Multimodal and Visual Metaphor Analysis

Doctoral course, ILOS. This is a 1½-day course. It combines lectures, interactive workshops, and feedback sessions.

Leaves on brick pavement

Photo: Colourbox


Elisabeth (Lisa) El Refaie (Cardiff University)

Christopher Hart (Lancaster University)

Summary and audience

This doctoral course focuses on visual and multimodal metaphors using insights from cognitive linguistics and social semiotics. The course is aimed at doctoral students whose projects are concerned in some way with the embodied, rhetorical, or emotive and evaluative aspects of figurative communication in visual and multimodal contexts. The course approaches these topics from various perspectives, including simulation theories of metaphor and critical discourse perspectives.

The genres and discourses considered include media texts dealing with social and political issues, political speeches, comics / graphic novels, advertisements, and patient-generated drawings dealing with experiences of illness.

The subtopics addressed are all related to the central topic of multimodal and visual metaphors and topicalize either the theoretical framework(s) and approaches in which these metaphors can be examined, the specific genres in which they occur, or other related figurative phenomena.

Subtopics for lectures

Multimodal social semiotics; triangulation in cognitive approaches to critical discourse analysis (CDA); intersemiotic relations in multimodal texts; intersemiotic convergence; frames and event frames; multimodal figurations in media discourse; metaphor and gesture in political communication.

Metaphor and embodiment; pictorial, spatial, and stylistic metaphors; creativity and coherence in visual/multimodal metaphors; verbal-visual relations in multimodal metaphors.

The course is of interest to doctoral students dealing with various aspects of multimodal communication. Advanced master’s students can be admitted on an individual basis.

Interactive sessions

Interactive sessions/seminars expand on some of the subtopics above, but they also consider a set of questions that the registered participants send to the organizers in advance. These questions should be related not only to the participants’ doctoral projects (challenges they encounter) but also to the (sub)topics of the course and the guest lecturers’ research.

Suggestions for discussion:
Using experimental methodologies for analyzing the effects of metaphors in discourse; advantages and challenges; CDA

Using drawing workshops to generate novel visual/multimodal metaphors; analyzing patient-created multimodal metaphors

Feedback sessions

Registered participants have the option to submit a text (around 10 pages) in advance of the course. The text should be part of or related to their doctoral project. On day two of the course, the lecturers will provide face-to-face feedback on these texts. However, if the lecturers or participants prefer feedback in writing, the timeslot planned for feedback can be used for continuation of the interactive seminar.

The lecturers decide between themselves on the main commenter for each text (considering the topics), but both lecturers will provide some feedback on each text submitted.

Tentative schedule

November 10th, Day 1 (2:00-6:00 pm)

Lecture: Christopher Hart (2:00-4:00 pm)*

Lecture: Elisabeth El Refaie (4:00-6:00 pm)*

*Including a short break and discussion 

November 11th, Day 2 (9:00 am - 4:30/5:00 pm)
Interactive session/seminar: Christopher Hart (9:00-10:30 am)
Feedback on papers: Christopher Hart (11:00 am - 12:00/12:30 pm)
Interactive session/seminar: Elisabeth El Refaie (1:30-3:00 pm)
Feedback on papers: Elisabeth El Refaie (3:30-4:30/5:00 pm)

Compulsory reading

Participants must read the following articles or book chapters to prepare for the course:

  • El Refaie, E. (2015). Scoring a goal or an own-goal against disease?: A multilevel framework for describing metaphor coherence in health campaigns. Metaphor and the Social World, 5(1), 102–123.
  • El Refaie, E. (2019). Chapter 1: Reanimating the Body in Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Visual Metaphor and Embodiment in Graphic Illness Narratives (pp. 18-46). Oxford University Press. 
  • El Refaie, E. (2022). Creative visual metaphors of protracted and frozen time in autobiographical comics about depression. In A. Piata, A. Gordejuela, & D. Alcaraz Carrión (Eds.), Time Representations in the Perspective of Human Creativity (pp. 101–123). John Benjamins.
    •  N.B. The pre-print proof of this text will be sent to registered participants
  • El Refaie, E., Payson, A., Bliesemann de Guevara, B., & Gameiro, S. (2020). Pictorial and spatial metaphor in the drawings of a culturally diverse group of women with fertility problems. Visual Communication, 19(2), 257–280.
  • Hart, C. (2017). Metaphor and intertextuality in media framings of the (1984-85) British miners’ strike: A multimodal analysis.  Discourse & Communication 11 (1): 3-30.
  • Hart, C., & Marmol Queralto, J. (2021). What can cognitive linguistics tell us about language-image relations? A multidimensional approach to intersemiotic convergence in multimodal texts. Cognitive Linguistics, 32(4), 529–562.
  • Hart, C., & Winter, B. (2022). Gesture and legitimation in the anti-immigration discourse of Nigel Farage. Discourse & Society, 33(1), 34–55.

Registration, requirements, and credits

Interested participants must send the organizers a short description of their doctoral projects (around 400 words) and a short statement explaining their motivation for participating (around 100 words), focusing on the relevance of this course for their doctoral research. Deadline: September 30th, 2022.

Register your application here by the end of September 30th

Admitted participants are expected to complete the required readings prior to the course, to be present on both days, and to actively participate in the seminars and discussions.

Participants are invited to submit a text (around 10 pages) prior to the course (however, this is an optional component; see above). Deadline: October 10th, 2022. Send your text to the course organizer Ljiljana Saric:
Please indicate in your application whether you plan to submit a text.

Participants should be prepared to briefly present their projects (3 to 5 minutes) during the seminars.

2 ECTS: Active participation in all parts of the course and submitted text

1 ECTS: Active participation in all parts of the course without submitting a text

Practical information

The course is planned to take place in person at the University of Oslo. If the pandemic situation does not permit in-person classes, the course may be moved online. The course is free of charge and includes a coffee break and lunch on the second day. Transportation, accommodation, and other meals have to be arranged and financed by the participants themselves.

For further questions, please contact the organizers.

Tags: PhD, Multimodality, Metaphor
Published Sep. 7, 2022 3:19 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2022 10:32 AM