Call for Applications: Thinking Figuratively: Workshop at the Foundry 21-28 August 2019

The activity of sense-making often, if not always, requires a transposition of complex concepts into simpler figures, whether as figures of thought, or figures on a page — whether by speaking of the mind as “a machine” and the faculties as “toolkits,” or by diagramming knowledge as a “tree.” This workshop seeks to interrogate closely the cognitive and material practices that comprise such figuration, and thereby arrive at a clearer definition of the figurative and its status in concept formation.

Is there a “literal thinking” to which we may contrast “figurative thinking,” or does all thought rely on figures and analogies? What does it mean to externalize thought materially in the form of diagrams and notational practices? How do paper notebooks, phones, voice memo apps, and other technologies that permit cognitive offloading shape our thinking? In short, what does it mean to conceive of one thing in terms of and through another? By addressing such questions, we aim to go beyond a facile distinction between the literal and metaphorical. To do so, we will be reading and discussing selected texts from anthropology, art history, philosophy, literature, media studies, and cognitive linguistics. Part of the week will be reserved for optional presentations of personal research projects, if participants happen to have a project relevant to the workshop theme.

We are committed to maintaining an open and inclusive space for thought and creativity. To that end, the workshop will take place from 21-28 August at the Bravos Foundry in the vicinity of Viveiro, Spain, about 10 km from the Atlantic coast. The Foundry is a new non-profit space for intellectuals and artists seeking to create outside of the institutional confines of market and university. Against the abstraction and commodification of intellectual labor, the site stresses that critical thinking is a way of living rooted in local engagements with one another and with the environment. Time will therefore be set aside during the week to explore the forests and beaches around the Foundry with one another, and participants are encouraged to prepare and take meals together, allowing conversations to flow outside of the seminar room and seep into the fabric of everyday life.

Anticipated Readings will include (but are not limited to):

Douglas Hofstadter
George Lakoff
Martin Heidegger
Eva Feder Kittay
Eleanor Rosch
Barbara Stafford
Philippe Descola
Gerard Genette
WJT Mitchell

A digital reader will be distributed to the participants.


Costs for the whole week are 150 euros. This includes food, drinks and accommodation. The Foundry does not have any staff, so dinner will be prepared communally. Participants should be aware that the Foundry is 1) a rural space; 2) a space in progress. The closest town, Viveiro, is approximately 10 kilometers away. There are a car and a bike on site that people are free to use when they are available. Construction is ongoing and there will be some private rooms available by late August, but depending on the number of participants, some might have to share a room. Camping is also an option. Bathrooms are currently under construction; there is hot water, an outdoor shower and a compost toilet, and we hope six more bathrooms will be functioning by August. Some pictures of the buildings and on-site features as of May 2019 may be found at the following link: As the construction of the Foundry is a communal effort, there is the possibility of having accommodation fees waived in return for staying some more days to work at the Foundry.

Participants will be picked up in Viveiro; for travel options to Viveiro, see

If people arrive at the same time and there is no good connection by public transport, there may be a possibility to be picked up from Santiago or a Coruña airport by car.

Apart from organizing workshops, the Foundry offers affordable retreats for writers and artists. If you are interested in staying longer at the Foundry apart from the workshop, please state this in your application. Accommodation fees are currently 6 euros per night. Note that there will be a summer closing party at the Foundry on the 30th of August (and a summer closing festival in Viveiro the week before).


We welcome applications from thinkers and artists at any stage in their career. Please write ca. 300 words describing your interest in the subject, and provide separately information on any relevant background and training (e.g., a short biography, a CV, a link to your website, etc.). If you have a personal research project you would like to present, please also provide a short abstract of up to 500 words articulating its relevance to the workshop theme. Please send your applications by the 8th of July to

Workshop Organizers:

Hansun Hsiung is a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. His work addresses themes of media, epistemology, and communications within the context of the global nineteenth century.

Roland Bolz is pursuing a PhD in philosophy on the subject of analogical thinking and its relevance to philosophical concept formation. He is also interested in humor theory and continental philosophy.

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