Vito Evola

Post-doc researcher

As a researcher, I'm responsible for the Multimodal Communication/Linguistics section of the BlackBox project, investigating performing arts from cognitive and ethnographic perspectives.

Previously, I did post-doctoral research on cognitive semiotics, metaphors, metonymy, gestures and epistemic stance at Humtec - RWTH Aachen University (Germany) with the Natural Media - Gesture lab, teaching Master's courses in Media Informatics on "Media, Culture and Mind" and "Semiotics and Embodied Cognition in the Digital Age" from 2009-2014. I held a one-year FIIRD fellowship granted by the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue for research on multimodal cognitive semiotics in relation to religious and spiritual thought at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). I was also lecturer at the University of Palermo (Italy), where my doctoral training began, which was also conducted in the USA at the University of California-Berkeley (Linguistics) as visiting researcher and at Case Western Reserve (Cognitive Science) as visiting scholar.

Broadly, my research lies in the intersection of language, culture and cognition, focusing on multimodal cognitive semiotics and symbolic systems (e.g. religions and religious discourse; performing arts and literature) and the socio-anthropological aspects of conceptual blends. One special research interest of mine is on multimodal metaphors (speech, gesture, cultural artifacts) and how these might be applied in other domains such as in psychotherapy and forensic interviews in order to better understand the epistemic stance of the speaker and how it's represented in "natural media" (voice, gestures, posture, gaze, etc.). In this sense, I adhere to an embodied and embedded view of the human mind following contemporary cognitive science.

Within the BlackBox research framework, I'm interested in investigating what dancers and other performers might be able to inform science about the relationship between body and cognition and creative processes in general.

Selected Publications

  1. Evola, V. & Skubisz, J. (2019). "Coordinated Collaboration and Nonverbal Social Interactions: A Formal and Functional Analysis of Gaze, Gestures, and Other Body Movements in a Contemporary Dance Improvisation Performance". Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (in press, December 2019). DOI: Available in open access (online first) at:
  2. Evola, V., Skubisz, J., & Fernandes, C. (2019). Data and Material for “Coordinated collaboration and nonverbal social interactions.”
  3. Fernandes, C., Evola, V., & Skubisz, J. (2019). Performance mode under the microscope: a cognitive semiotic analysis of eye gaze and other body movements in a contemporary dance improvisation. In Galhano-Rodrigues, I., Zagar Galvão, E., and Cruz-Santos, A. (Eds.). Recent Perspectives on Gesture and Multimodality. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 121-135.
  4. Jürgens, S., Fernandes, C. & Evola, V. (2019). An Infographic Approach to Presenting Dance Data from the Choreographer’s Studio. PARtake: The Journal of Performance as Research. Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 7. Available at:
  5. Joue, G., Boven, L., Willmes, K., Evola, V., Demenescu, L. R., Hassemer, J., Mittelberg, I., Mathiak, K., Schneider, F, & Habel, U. (2018). Handling or being the concept: an fMRI study on metonymy representations in coverbal gestures. Neuropsychologia, 109, 232-244.
  6. Ribeiro, C. & Evola, V. (2017). Visualization Techniques as Methodological Tools for Dance Research. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X. Lisbon, Portugal. pp: 46-54. ISBN: 978-989-746-128-6
  7. Evola, V., Skubisz, J. and Fernandes C. (2017). The Role of Eye Gaze and Body Movements in Turn-Taking during a Contemporary Dance Improvisation. In: Gilmartin, E., Cerrato, L., Campbell, N. (eds). Proceedings from the 3rd European Symposium on Multimodal Communication, Dublin, September 17-18, 2015. Linköping: LiU Press. pp.24-31. Extended Abstract and Full Paper
  8. Mittelberg, I., Evola, V. (2014). Iconic and representational gestures. In: C. Müller, A. Cienki, E. Fricke, S. H. Ladewig, D. McNeill and J. Bressem (Eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 1732–1746. PDF
  9. Evola, V. (2012). Aveva ragione Whorf?: La lingua embodied/embedded. Reti, Saperi, Linguaggi 1(2). Università di Messina. PDF
  10. Evola, V. (2010). Evoluzione, Cambiamento e Progresso: Tra Metafora e Frame (Evolution, Change and Progress: Between Metaphors and Frames). In Metafore del vivente. Elena Gagliasso & Giulia Frezza (eds.). Milano: Franco Angeli. PDF
  11. Evola, V. (2010). Multimodal Cognitive Semiotics of Spiritual Experiences: Beliefs and Metaphors in Words, Gestures, and Drawings. In Fey Parrill, Vera Tobin, and Mark Turner (eds.) Form, Meaning, and Body. Stanford: CSLI. pp. 41-60. PDF
  12. Evola, V. (2010). Metafore, Sistemi Religiosi e Semiotica Cognitiva Multimodale. Discorsi, Gestualità e Disegni di Predicatori di Strada Cristiani e di un Satanista (Metaphors, Religious Systems and Multimodal Cognitive Semiotics. Speech, Gestures and Artwork of Christian Street-Preachers and a Satanist). Sistemi Intelligenti (SI). Rivista Quadrimestrale di Scienze Cognitive e di Intelligenza Artificiale.1/2010. Bologna: Il Mulino. 23-47. PDF
  13. Evola, V. (2009). Semiótica Multimodal de las Experiencias Espirituales: La Representación de Creencias, Metáforas y Acciones. In C. M. Bretones & et al. (Eds.), Applied Linguistics Now: Understanding Language and Mind / La Lingüística Aplicada Hoy: Comprendiendo el Lenguaje y la Mente (pp. 1571–1586). Almería, Spain: Universidad de Almería. PDF
  14. Evola, V. (2008). La metafora come carrefour cognitivo del pensiero e del linguaggio. In Casadio, Claudia (ed.). Vie della metafora: linguistica, filosofia, psicologia. Sulmona: PrimeVie Editore. PDF
  15. Evola, V. (2005). Cognitive Semiotics and On-Line Reading of Religious Texts. Journal of Consciousness, Literature and the Arts Vol. 6 (N. 2). ISSN 1470-5648. PDF

More publications available here and here