University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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Simon Harrison

Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics , School of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


PhD English Studies (Université Bordeaux 3)
MA English Studies (Université Bordeaux 3)
BA French with Business (Swansea University)
Cert. CELTA (Swansea University) 
Cert. DAEFLE (Université Bordeaux 3)

Teaching Qualifications and Memberships

(30 credits)
Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (HEA Level 1)
University of Nottingham, November 2016

Associate Fellow

Higher Education Academy November 2016


  • Room 430, Administration Building
    The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
    199 Taikang East Road
    Ningbo 315100  
  • +86 (0)574 8818 0000 (ext. 8939)
  • +86 (0)574 8818 6449
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Before moving to the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (Autumn 2013), I completed postdoctoral work in Multimodal Communication as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at RWTH Aachen in Germany, and I taught as a junior lecturer on the English Studies program at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. At UNNC, I teach various courses in Applied Linguistics and conduct research into language and gesture.



ENGL1025 Language and Context (Level 1, Full Year)

ENGL4198 Approaches to Language and Linguistics (Masters, Autumn)       

ENGL2041 Discourse and Society  (Level 2, Spring)


Previous and current research

I am a gesture researcher interested in the relationship between gesture, language, and cognition. I work primarily from the perspective of cognitive linguistics and draw on aspects of the form-based approach to co-speech gestures (ToGoG methodology). I have studied gestures in a range of contexts but focused in particular on a family of gestures associated with the expression of negation in conversational English. My research documents the forms those gestures exhibit, their organisational properties in relation to linguistic and pragmatic aspects of negation, and their connection to embodied aspects of conceptualisation, more broadly offering a multimodal perspective on linguistic concepts and studying why people gesture when they speak. More recently I have started to explore how aspects of gesture in interaction connect to broader discourse processes, such as collaborative discourse, framing, and genre.

Research affiliations

  • Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics, China (CRALC)
  • Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies (IAPS)



Harrison, Simon (2018). The Impulse to Gesture. Where Language, Minds, and Bodies Intersect. Cambridge University Press.


Journal articles

Harrison, S., Adolphs, S., Gillon-Dowens, M., Du, P. & J. Littlemore (2018). All hands on deck. Negotiation over gesture forms in collaborative discourse. 

Harrison, S. & Williams, R. (2017). Monitoring the swimzone while finding south: sustained orientation in multiactivity among beach lifeguards. Text & Talk, 37(6), pp. 683-711. doi:10.1515/text-2017-0023

Harrison, S. (2014). The organisation of kinesic ensembles associated with negation. Gesture 14(2), 117-141.

Harrison, S. (2013). Visible bodily action in disfluencies when learning to sign: A classroom study of non-native sign languageTodas as Letras, 15(1), 51-61.

Harrison, S. (2010). Evidence for node and scope of negation in coverbal gesture. Gesture. 10(1), 29-51.

Harrison, S. & Connors, L. (2008). Gesture, Dialogue and Narrative: The Visible Editing Process in Contemporary Conversation and Eighteenth-Century Manuscripts. ManuScript 2, 20-33.

Other publications

Fleming, D. H. & Simon Harrison (2016) Are the Chinese ‘losing their gestures?’ UoN Blogs Contemporary Chinese Studies at UNNC (9th December 2016)

Harrison, S. (2015). A modality-axis in gesture space? The Vertical Palm and construal of negation as distance. In Ferré, G & M. Tutton (Eds.) Proceedings of Gesture and Speech in Interaction 4.

Harrison, S. & P. Larrivée (2015). Morphosyntactic correlates of gestures: A gesture associated with negation in French and its organisation with speech. In Larrivée Pierre and Chungmin Lee (Eds). Negation and polarity. Experimental perspectives (pp.75-94). Dordrecht: Springer.

Harrison, S. (2015). The production line as a context for low metaphoricity. Exploring links between gestures, iconicity, and artefacts on a factory shop floor. In Herrmann, J. & Berber Sardinha, T. (Eds.) Metaphor in specialist discourse: Investigating metaphor use in technical, scientific and popularized discourse contexts (pp.131-161). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Williams, R. F. & Harrison, S. (2014). Distributed cognition and gesture: Propagating a functional system through impromptu teaching. In J. L. Polman, E. A. Kyza, D. K. O'Neil, I. Tabak, W. R. Penuel, A. S. Jurow, K. O'Connor, T. Lee & L. D'Amico (Eds.), Learning and Becoming in Practice: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Volume 3 (pp. 1655-1656). Boulder, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Harrison, S. (2014). Head shakes: Variation in form, function, and cultural distribution of a head movement related to “no”. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., McNeill, D., & J. Bressem (eds.) Body – Language – Communication (HSK 38.2). de Gruyter, 1496-1501.

Boutet, D. & S. Harrison (2014). Gestures in Western Europe: France. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., McNeill, D., & J. Bressem (eds.) Body – Language – Communication (HSK 38.2). de Gruyter, 1272-1282.

Harrison, S. (2014). Gestures in industrial settings. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., McNeill, D., & J. Bressem (eds.) Body – Language – Communication (HSK 38.2). de Gruyter, 1413-1419.

Harrison, S. (2013). The temporal coordination of negation gestures in relation to speech In Proceedings of TiGeR 2013 - Tilberg Gesture Research Meeting, June 19-21, 2013.

Harrison, S. (2011). The creation and implementation of a gesture code for factory communication In Proceedings of GESPIN 2011: Gesture and speech in interaction, Bielefeld, 5-7 September, 2011.

Harrison, S. (2009). ‘Careers, not inflatable chairs’. Published as a ‘CELTA success story’ on homepage for CELTA Teacher Training degree program, Swansea University (

Harrison, S. (2009). The expression of negation through grammar and gesture. In: Zlatev, J., Andrén, M., Johansson Falck, M. and Lundmark, C., eds., Studies in language and cognition, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 421-435.


Recent conference presentations

“4E metaphoric mechanisms: Sensory-motor experiences in the real estate showroom” (With David H. Fleming, UNNC). Paper to be presented at the 6th specialised seminar of the International Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM), theme: Ecological Cognition and Metaphor at University of Southern Denmark, Odense, (May 17-19, 2017). 

“Assisting gestural performance: How students give each other a ‘helping hand’ during collaborative discourse”. Paper presented at the 15th China Discourse Analysis Conference ‘Discourse, Reality and Ways of Thinking’, Ningbo University, China (October 28-30, 2016).

“Recurrent gestures – why so recurrent? From utterance level cohesion to broader discursive structures”. Paper presented at the 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS7), Universite Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, France (July 18-22, 2016).

“Organisational features of gestures associated with negation. The case of the Vertical Palm”. Paper presented on the theme session ‘Grammar, speaker’s gestures, and conceptualization’ at the 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC13), Northumbria University, UK (July 22-25, 2015).

“Linguistic and gestural patterns of negation among Chinese speakers of English”. Paper presented at The Sociolinguistics of Globalisation: (De)centring and (de)standardisation, Hong Kong University (3-6 June, 2015).