Formal Semantics of Pictorial Narratives



Language and Logic Courses

Advanced Course

Formal Semantics of Pictorial Narratives,
Dorit Abusch (Cornell University, USA) and Mats Rooth (Cornell University, USA)

Week 1, 17:00 – 18:30, Room 247A, Floor 2 Room 292, Floor 4

The class looks at current research on the semantics and pragmantics of pictorial narratives such as comics, emphasizing methods of possible worlds semantics and dynamic semantics. Such narratives show intriguing parallels with natural language narratives, and equally intriguing differences. Topics include propositional semantics for pictures, indexing, temporal progression, sentences that describe pictures, and explicit and implicated intensionality.

Overview slides from the first day are at


  1. Anaphora / Indexing Monday
  2. Temporal relations and aspect Tuesday
  3. Dynamic semantics Wednesday
  4. Pictorial free perception Thursday
  5. Sentences describing pictures, viewpoint-centered semantic values Friday


  1. Abusch (2015) Possible worlds semantics for pictures
  2. Greenberg (2013) Beyond resemblance
  3. McCloud (1993) Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
  4. Greenberg (2017) The geometry of pictorial representation
  5. Abusch (2012) Applying discourse semantics and pragmatics to coreference in picture sequences
  6. Dehejia (1997) Discourse in Early Buddhist Art: Visual Narratives of India
  7. Abusch (2014) Temporal succession and aspectual type in visual narrative
  8. Dekker (2012) Dynamic Semantics
  9. Abusch and Rooth (2017)  The formal semantics of free perception in pictorial narratives
  10. Cumming, Greenberg, and Kelly (2017) Conventions of viewpoint coherence in film
  11. Eckardt (2015) The Semantics of Free Indirect Discourse
  12. Hinterwimmer (2017) Two kinds of perspective taking in narrative texts
  13. Rooth and Abusch (2017) Picture descriptions and centered content
  14. Ross (1997) Semantics of Media