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URPP Language and Space

Prof. Dr. Anja Stukenbrock




Prof. Dr. Anja Stukenbrock

University of Lausanne


Looking at gaze in co-present social interaction

My talk is concerned with the role of eye gaze in social interaction, and in particular, with the significance that participants themselves visibly accord to their partners' gaze direction in co-present social activities. I will start by briefly reviewing previous findings on the functions of gaze in social interaction. Next, we will look at the interplay between gaze, gesture, and speech in the course of demonstrative reference, i.e. when participants point and verbally refer to phenomena in the shared spatial surroundings. Central questions are: How do they establish joint attention, and mutually know that joint attention has occurred? How do they make sure that they are seeing the same phenomenon, and see it in the same way? And most importantly, how does gaze help them shape their actions according to the actions of the other? The major part of my talk will be devoted to this last question. I will explore participants' sensitivity to their co-participants' line of regard by focusing on two gaze practices that participants themselves orient to in the course of demonstrative reference: 1. monitoring the gaze of the other, and 2. following the gaze of the other. I will show that these practices and the functions they acquire in the coures of reference are context dependent, positionally sensitive, tied to the participant roles, and temporally fine-tuned to the stream of verbal and embodied conduct (Stukenbrock 2020).
My talk builds on video data and mobile eye tracking recordings of naturally occurring social activities in different contexts. The data are in German and Swiss German. The eye tracking data were recorded as part of the SNSF project "Deixis and Joint attention: Vision in Interaction" (DeJA-VI) currently conducted at the University of Lausanne.