The University Commons at midday with male and female students walking the path between the library and Student Union

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Northeastern Illinois University Psychology Professor Breckie Church has co-edited a new book, “Why Gesture?” The book is published by the John Benjamins Publishing Company.

In the book Church and her co-editors, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Psychology Martha Alibali and Colgate University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Spencer Kelly, examine the function of gesture in speaking, thinking and communicating.

“This book is an edited volume of the some of the foremost authorities on gesture—hand movements that represent our thoughts and information conveyed in our speech,” Church said. “It could be used as a textbook but is a scientific collection of original research.”

Church, Alibali and Spencer have worked together for the past 25 years.

“Spencer was one of my first students at Northeastern,” Church said. “We co-authored a few articles, he got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is now a full professor at Colgate University.

“Martha was an undergraduate when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. I hired her to help me code my dissertation data. She also got her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and is now a full professor at University of Wisconsin.”

Church, Alibali and Kelly felt that creating a collection of research addressing the function of hand movements for thinking, communication and speaking was needed.

“A lot of research has been done but no one had addressed this question: Why do we gesture?” Church said.

Breckie Church