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Elisabeth El Refaie: ‘Frozen’ time in autobio comics about depression

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Visual metaphors of ‘frozen’ time in autobiographical comics about depression.

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One common but lesser-known symptom of depression is distorted temporal perception. This talk analyzes visual metaphors in graphic memoirs about depression, revealing the unique opportunities for evoking subjective experiences of time offered by this genre. Specifically, the authors of these works use different combinations of ‘pictorial’ and ‘spatial’ metaphors (El Refaie 2019) to convey their sense of time slowing down or freezing, and of being out of sync with other people. These findings are related to Conceptual Metaphor Theory, including Stocker’s (2014) notion of ‘spacetime’.

Speaker bio: Elisabeth (Lisa) El Refaie, Reader in Visual Communication, Cardiff University. Lisa’s research interests are in visual and multimodal forms of communication, with a particular focus on metaphor. Her most recent book is Visual Metaphor and Embodiment in Graphic Illness Narratives. She has also been involved in several engagement projects, including the development of a patient support tool that encourages people with invisible illness to draw their experiences, DrawingOut.

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