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Metaphoricity of Conventionalized Diegetic Images in Comics

A Study in Multimodal Cognitive Linguistics


Michał Szawerna

This book offers a cognitive-semiotic approach to metaphoricity of visual representations in static visual narratives referred to as comics. It implements this approach in an exploration of conventionalized visual signs depicting diegetic situations, motion events, sound events, and diverse psychological experiences in such narratives. With his focus on the intersection of comics studies, conceptual metaphor theory, and Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of signs, the author analyzes a broad array of attested data retrieved from comics exemplifying various publication formats, generic conventions, and cultural traditions. His exploration situates the metaphoricity of the analyzed visual signs against the backdrop of their overall semiotic makeup and in relation to the metaphoricity of their linguistic counterparts.

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Chapter 1. Theoretical orientation


1.0. Introduction

This chapter, which is at once expository and theoretical, provides an outline of contemporary comics scholarship, Peirce’s theory of signs, and conceptual metaphor theory, and it circumscribes their intersection — a research area in which this study of metaphorically motivated non-mimetic visual signs belonging to the standard expressive repertoire of the comics medium is situated. As regards its organization, this chapter resolves into five major sections. The first major section traces the evolution of comics studies from its origins to the point at which the new comics scholarship emerged and then took the formalist turn in the late 1980s and early 1990s, establishes the need for a unified approach to the problems of visual signification posed by comics by identifying the theoretical deficiencies of the formalist turn, and calls for the formulation of a cognitive-semiotic approach as a potential remedy to these deficiencies. The second major section provides an outline of Peirce’s sign theory, with the focus on Peirce’s second trichotomy of signs, which introduces iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity — the modes of representation jointly characterizing the visual signs included in the analytical scope of this study. The third major section provides an outline of conceptual metaphor theory which focuses on the theory’s major commitments and developments, from the moment of its inception to the present day. The fourth major section discusses the points of convergence and divergence between Peirce’s theory of signs and conceptual metaphor theory, and in this way it lays the foundation for...

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