Elisabeth El Refaie

Dr Elisabeth (Lisa) El Refaie BA (‘Magister der Philosophie’), PGCE, MEd, PhD

Cardiff University, Language and Communication

International Bande Dessinée Society, full member

Contact Details


Telephone: 02920 876338 (work)

Postal address: Cardiff University, ENCAP, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, UK

Website: (university staff page)

Biography and Research Interests

I grew up in Vienna, where I studied Journalism while also working part-time for several newspapers and news agencies. After graduating I moved to the UK, where I qualified to teach and then did a PhD on metaphors in newspaper discourses about asylum seekers at Bradford University. After lecturing in German for four years at Plymouth University, I joined Cardiff University, where I’ve now been a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Language and Communication for the past seven years. Initially, my research focused on newspaper cartoons and visual/multimodal metaphor, but I soon became fascinated by comics and graphic narratives. I’ve just written a book on autobiographical comics (for University Press of Mississippi), which will be published in the autumn 2012.

Research interests: My main research interests are in visual / multimodal forms of narrative in comics (especially autobiographical comics) and cartoons. I am also interested in visual metaphor, humour, multimodality, audience research, and media representations of cultural identity.



Autobiographical comics: Life Writing in Pictures, forthcoming, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Refereed journal articles

‘Creativity in multimodal metaphor: Breaking out of conceptual prisons’, Review of Cognitive Linguistics forthcoming 11/1 (special issue “Multimodality and Cognitive Linguistics”).

‘Of men, mice, and monsters: Body images in David Small’s Stitches: A Memoir, The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, forthcoming 3(1).

‘Transnational citizenship, dissent and the political geographies of youth’ (with Hörschelmann, K.) Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, forthcoming.

‘The pragmatics of humor reception: Young people’s responses to a newspaper cartoon’, HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, 2011, 24(1): 87-108.

‘Subjective time in David B’s graphic memoir Epileptic, Studies in Comics, 2010, 1(2): 281-299.

‘Visual modality versus authenticity: The example of autobiographical comics’, Visual Studies 2010, 25(2): 162-174.

‘Young people’s readings of a political cartoon and the concept of multimodal literacy’ (with Hörschelmann, K.), Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 2010, 31(2): 195-207.

‘Multiliteracies: How readers interpret political cartoons’, Visual Communication, 2009, 8(2): 181-205.

‘“Our purebred ethnic compatriots”: Subversive irony in newspaper journalism’, Journal of Pragmatics, 2005, 37(6): 781-797.

‘Dramatist with a talent for dramatisation: Elfriede Jelinek’s manipulation of the media’, German Life and Letters, 2004, 57(3): 327-341.

‘Competing discourses about Austria’s Nazi past and racist bomb attacks in the 1990s’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 2004, 12(2): 215-230.

‘Understanding visual metaphor: The example of newspaper cartoons’, Visual Communication, 2003, 2(1): 75-96.

‘Keeping the truce? Austrian press politics between the “July-Agreement” (1936) and the Anschluss (1938)’, German History, 2002, 20(1): 44-66.

‘Metaphors we discriminate by: Naturalised themes in Austrian newspaper articles about asylum seekers’, Journal of Sociolinguistics, 2001, 5(3): 352-371.

Chapters in books

‘Transnational Identity as Shape-Shifting: Metaphor and Cultural Resonance in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese’, in Comics at the Crossroads: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives, S. Denson, C. Meyer, and D. Stein (eds.) forthcoming, London and New York: Continuum.

‘Metaphor in political cartoons: Exploring audience responses’, in Multimodal Metaphor, C. Forceville and E. Urios-Aparisi (eds.), 2009, Berlin, New York: Mouton-de Gruyter: 173-196.

‘What makes us laugh? Verbo-visual humour in newspaper cartoons’, in The World Told and the World Shown: Multisemiotic Issues, E. Ventola and J. A. Moya Guijarro (eds.), 2009, London, New York: Palgrave: 75-89.

‘The Austrian tabloid newspaper Neue Kronen Zeitung and its campaigns against people who “foul their own nest”’, in Nationalist Myths and Modern Media: Contested Identities in the Age of Globalization, J. H. Brinks, S. Rock, E. Timms (eds.) 2006, London: Tauris: 173-186.

‘Strangers in Schengen Europe: Discursive constructions of refugees in Austrian newspaper texts and images’, in Getting into German: Multidisciplinary Linguistic Approaches, J.G. Partridge (ed.), 2005, Bern: Peter Lang Verlag: 219-243.

Conference Papers and Talks

‘The narrative functions of metaphor in autobiographical comics’, International Conference on Comics and Graphics Novels, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, November 2011

‘“Dear Reader, put yourself in my shoes”: Empathy and the comics reader’, Joint International Conference of Graphic Novels, Bandes dessinées and Comics, Manchester, July 2011

‘The embodied self in graphic memoirs’, Graphic Novels and Comics Conference, Manchester, April 2010

‘(Verbo-)visual metaphor in autobiographical comics’ (plenary) Researching and Applying Metaphor Workshop on Multimodal Metaphor, Amsterdam, June 2009

‘Time as a narrative tool in autobiographical comic art’, Conference of the International Bande Dessinée Society, London, June 2009

‘Autobiographical comics and the concept of “visual modality”’, Comics, Manga & Graphic Novels Conference, Växjö, April 2009

‘Metaphors of temporality in graphic novels’, Researching and Applying Metaphor, Cacéres, Aug. 2008


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