The look of writing in reading. Graphetic empathy in making and perceiving graphic traces

Christian Mosbæk Johannessen*, Marieke Longcamp, Susan A.J. Stuart, Paul J. Thibault, Chris Baber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents preliminary considerations and results from a research project designed to investigate the relation between (i) gestures, (ii) graphic traces and (iii) perceptions. More specifically, the project aims to test the hypothesis that graphic traces, including handwriting, can set up graphetic empathy between writers and readers of traces across long temporal and spatial distances. Insofar as a graphic trace is lawfully related to the gesture by which it came into being, the trace itself will hold information about the gesture, which may resonate with the sensorimotor system of a perceiver, as if they themselves performed the gesture. If this is in fact so, it will have important and hitherto unanticipated implications for our understanding of the embodiment of reading. As part of the article we will present and discuss the results of a neurophenomenological trial study through which we attempt to operationalize the gesture-trace and trace–perception relations respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101363
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage Sciences
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors were funded by a SEED grant from The Faculty of Humanities, University of Southern Denmark . There are no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Affordance
  • Elicitation interview
  • Graphetic empathy
  • Neurophenomenology
  • Phonetic empathy
  • Prosody
  • Trace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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