Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch

Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch

Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch

Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch


This volume is derived from presentations given at a conference hosted in Boulder, Colorado in honor of the 60th birthday of Walter Kintsch. Though the contents of the talks, and thus the chapters, varied widely, all had one thing in common -- they were inspired to some degree by the work of Walter Kintsch. When making plans for an edited book centered around this conference, the editors had a primary goal: to acknowledge the wide variety of researchers and research areas Kintsch had influenced. As a consequence, one of the more unusual elements of this volume is the diversity of the contributors.

Researchers from six different countries contributed chapters to this book which is loosely organized around three main thrusts of Kintsch's work:

• text-based representations that explain how meaning in a text is constructed,

• situation models which represent what the text is about rather than what a text literally says, and

• the construction-integration model, Kintsch's most recent work in discourse comprehension.


This book had its genesis in a rather innocent conversation that Suzanne Mannes and I had at the meeting of the Psychonomic Society in St. Louisin November 1992. Had Walter Kintsch reached the point in his career that we, his former students and colleagues, should honor him with a conference and perhaps an edited book? We had seen the excellent volumes that had recently been produced for Bill Estes and Endel Tulving, and we decided a similar festschrift for Walter was overdue. With good, albeit somewhat naive, intentions, we drew up a list of potential contributors. We tentatively set June 1993 as the date to schedule this conference.

As I began calling these individuals around Christmas 1992, several things dawned on me. First was the enormity of the undertaking--I had to get commitments from extremely busy individuals, despite the fact that I could not give them a firm date (we were still working on that), a firm "yes" from a publisher (we were working on that, too), or a firm list of others who would be involved. One of my colleagues who had arranged a similar conference several years ago told me that what he did was to tell each person on his list that every other person had agreed to come, even though he had not yet talked to the others. He just hoped he got enough affirmative responses to make the statement true (which, by the way, he did). Fortunately, I needn't have worried about that.

The second thing that struck me was the absolutely overwhelming enthusiasm I encountered. Despite the fact that I could provide none of the details, virtually everyone I contacted jumped at the chance to be involved. Randy Fletcher was asked to join us as an editor; he brought with him an abundance of editorial experience and energy.

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