Speaking in Hands | Research on Gesturing

Who knew (but we always suspected here in academia) that someone, somewhere has spent precious time studying the art of gesturing, a useful enterprise for anyone interested in dissecting public speaking:

After he published his study on the gestures of New York immigrants, Efron left academia for a career advocating for workers’ rights at the UN’s International Labor Organization. But his dissertation went on to become a foundation for the field of “gesture studies”—a label applied to the activities of various psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists who look at the things people do with their hands while they speak. Efron not only laid the groundwork for a more systematic method of studying gestures, he introduced the idea that gesture was not a companion to speaking, but a product of it.

via Lapham’s Quarterly, “Body Language” 

Other insights: gesture may need ‘translation’ as they vary across cultures, but they are widely used and rarely limited to a particular culture; putting “thoughts in our hands” can increase memory retention.


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