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Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Bergs, Alexander / Cohn, Abigail C. / Good, Jeff

CiteScore 2018: 0.95

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.381
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.841

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Agency and epistemic authority in question-answer sequences between art museum guides and visitors diagnosed with dementia

Adrienne R. Isaac / Heidi E. Hamilton
Published Online: 2019-06-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0028


Recent studies documenting the real-time details of human interactions have revealed the way in which artefacts in the immediate physical surround facilitate the display and demonstration of knowledge. The museum setting in which physically present objects prompt and support visitor displays of knowledge is particularly well-suited for individuals managing symptoms related to memory loss as a result of dementia, especially of the Alzheimer’s type. In this paper, we explore question-answer sequences taken from three hour-long guided sessions within an art gallery program involving museum guides who were specially trained to work with visitors with dementia. We investigate representative sequences 1) in which visitors exercise interactional control by posing questions to guides that relate to the visitors’ own interests and 2) in which guides pose questions to visitors regarding topics that relate to the visitors’ personal lives. We argue that these two discursive practices promote interactional meaningfulness, in that the former pattern affords the visitors interactional agency, while the latter pattern allows them to display their epistemic authority. Finally, we consider how insights from this therapeutic model may be translated from the museum to the home setting.

Keywords: epistemics; question-answer sequences; dementia; art museum; material artefacts


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About the article

Received: 2018-05-15

Accepted: 2019-01-16

Published Online: 2019-06-22

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 5, Issue s2, 20180028, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0028.

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