A Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion

The Critical Whirl. ‘I’ve read too much Marx and I can’t get my words out’
Circle hand clockwise in a small but rapid motion towards the audience.
Accelerate and repeat until idea unpacked.

The Critical Whirl. ‘I’ve read too much Marx and I can’t get my words out’

Circle hand clockwise in a small but rapid motion towards the audience.

Accelerate and repeat until idea unpacked.

The Backhand Slap. ‘I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again’
Slap dominant hand into non-dominant hand.
Use as a reinforcing gesture when critical opponent seems unresponsive.

The Backhand Slap. ‘I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again’

Slap dominant hand into non-dominant hand.

Use as a reinforcing gesture when critical opponent seems unresponsive.

The Point.
Extend forefinger in a controlled but emphatic manner.
Use to direct everyone’s gaze towards a particular individual or object.

The Point.

Extend forefinger in a controlled but emphatic manner.

Use to direct everyone’s gaze towards a particular individual or object.

The Shelf Sweep.
Begin with both hands at right hand shoulder. Sweep across the top shelf of  imaginary bookcase. When level with left shoulder, make sharp rotation of wrists and sweep across lower shelf.
Use when explaining hierarchies.

The Shelf Sweep.

Begin with both hands at right hand shoulder. Sweep across the top shelf of  imaginary bookcase. When level with left shoulder, make sharp rotation of wrists and sweep across lower shelf.

Use when explaining hierarchies.

Picking Up Small Ideas.
Reach down towards imaginary pile of sand, pinch a small amount, lift with closed fingers and return to original position. Repeat upto 3 times. Optional extra; present idea to others in palm of hand. 
Use only when seated in front of an audience.

Picking Up Small Ideas.

Reach down towards imaginary pile of sand, pinch a small amount, lift with closed fingers and return to original position. Repeat upto 3 times. Optional extra; present idea to others in palm of hand. 

Use only when seated in front of an audience.

Flexing Academic Muscle. ‘I’m testing out my research in front of a live audience’
Bounce from side to side on imaginary hand trampolines. Repeat until academic muscle is exhausted. 
Use when taking idea out of original context and placing it somewhere else.

Flexing Academic Muscle. ‘I’m testing out my research in front of a live audience’

Bounce from side to side on imaginary hand trampolines. Repeat until academic muscle is exhausted. 

Use when taking idea out of original context and placing it somewhere else.

The Dialectic. ‘This is a dialectic and I’m going to explain it.’
Grip imaginary six centimetre object between thumb and forefinger. Rotate wrist ninety degrees, snapping into end position. Smoothly rotate back to start. Repeat up to three times depending on conviction.
Use when expressing a shift from one thing to another. Highly infectious.

The Dialectic. ‘This is a dialectic and I’m going to explain it.’

Grip imaginary six centimetre object between thumb and forefinger. Rotate wrist ninety degrees, snapping into end position. Smoothly rotate back to start. Repeat up to three times depending on conviction.

Use when expressing a shift from one thing to another. Highly infectious.

The Italian Waiter. ‘I’ve been on holiday to the Mediterranean and I’m a bit looser with my gestures.’
Point hand towards your mouth, rock wrist back and forth. Incorporate more arm as you become more convinced by your own point. To engage larger audience, extend both arms outwards from body.
Use when making a cultural observation.

The Italian Waiter. ‘I’ve been on holiday to the Mediterranean and I’m a bit looser with my gestures.’

Point hand towards your mouth, rock wrist back and forth. Incorporate more arm as you become more convinced by your own point. To engage larger audience, extend both arms outwards from body.

Use when making a cultural observation.

The Tiny Dialectic. ‘I’m making a very fine distinction’
Follow directions for ‘The Dialectic’ but with thumb and forefinger one centimetre apart. Bring hand toward eyes for closer inspection.
Use when unpicking specific detail, or when too self-conscious to use ‘The Dialectic’ gesture.

The Tiny Dialectic. ‘I’m making a very fine distinction’

Follow directions for ‘The Dialectic’ but with thumb and forefinger one centimetre apart. Bring hand toward eyes for closer inspection.

Use when unpicking specific detail, or when too self-conscious to use ‘The Dialectic’ gesture.