Charles Forceville





1. Contact Information

2. Introduction

3. Scholarly background and beliefs

4. Education

5. Work

6. Peer reviewing of articles, conference abstracts, PhDs, book proposals

7. Conference papers, seminars, workshops

8. Publications

9. Abstracts of articles

10. Reviews of Forceville (1996)

11. Summary of "Expanding cognitive linguistics to pictures: Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising"

Contact Information

Dr. Charles Forceville
Dept of Media Studies
Turfdraagsterpad 9
1012 XT Amsterdam
The Netherlands


Semioticon Cybercourse on Pictorial and Multimodal Metaphor website:

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4


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Charles Forceville was born in Heemstede, the Netherlands, in 1959. Apart from publishing scholarly articles, he occasionally writes reviews of English language fiction for the Dutch national newspaper Trouw (some 200 since 1987) and sometimes contributes to the Dutch film magazine Skrien. He is review editor of Metaphor and Symbol (formerly Metaphor and Symbolic Activity ) since 1999, and serves on the advisory boards of Journal of Pragmatics and Public Journal of Semiotics .

Scholarly background and beliefs

“Educated in a literature and linguistics department, I started out with a passion for literature that I still indulge in. But gradually I found the activity of interpreting literary works, while an enjoyable and important pursuit, no longer quite satisfied my academic ambitions. Discovering the Cognitive Linguistics' work on metaphor coincided with a growing fascination with the study of images in popular culture. Combining these interests eventually led to the publication of Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising (1996). Partly due to my appointment as lecturer and researcher in Media Studies, a department with a strong emphasis on film, my research has broadened from pictorial metaphor to multimodal metaphor, and from static representations to moving images.

While I see text-based analyses of contemporary representations (literature, advertising, cartoons, film) as basic to my scholarly work, my goal, in the broadest sense, is to contribute to cognitivist theories of the image and of multimodal representations. Metaphor, narration, relevance theory, genre, documentary film, animcation, and multimodal discourse, are key terms in these pursuits. I strive to make my work both theoretically insightful and practically applicable and attempt to formulate my findings in such a way as to enable falsification as well as to provide starting points for empirical testing. One of my missions is to show that humanities-oriented research focusing on art and popular culture is of interest to work that is being done in the social sciences – and vice versa. In short, I consider myself a cognitivist scholar. ”

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  • 1971-1977   Murmelliusgymnasium, Alkmaar. (Subjects: Greek, Latin, Dutch, English, French, German, History).

  • 1977-1988   Study of English Language and Literature, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

  • 1982-1983   Harting Scholarship, University of Durham.

  • 13-12-'94    PhD Pictorial metaphor in advertising, NWO/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

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  • Until 1990    Part time lecturer Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, English dept.; freelance translator/editor/corrector/literature reviewer

  • 1/6/90--1/6/94  Researcher at Dutch Organization of Scientific Research (NWO), section Comparative Literature.

  • Project: "Pictorial metaphor in advertisements." Promotors: Prof. E. Ibsch (Comparative and Empirical Literature) and Prof. J.L. Mackenzie (Linguistics), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.Researcher at Dutch Organization of Scientific Research (NWO), section Comparative Literature. Project: "Pictorial metaphor in advertisements." Promotors: Prof. E. Ibsch (Comparative and Empirical Literature) and Prof. J.L. Mackenzie (Linguistics), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

  • 1992-1999  Part time lecturer Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, English dept., comparative literature dept., word & image dept.

  • 2/'96-9/'98   Post-doc "Narration in fiction and film." Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap (OSL/Rijksuniver­siteit Leiden (50%).

  • 9/'99 - now  Lecturer & researcher, Media studies dept. (formerly: Dept. of Film and Television), Universiteit van Amsterdam. [ LINK ]

  • 9/’04 - now  Coordinator of Research Master Media Studies, Universiteit van Amsterdam. [ LINK ]

  • 5/'04 - Member advisory board Applications of Cognitive Linguistics (ACL) series, Mouton de Gruyter.

  • 9/'04 - ASCA (Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis) programme  Multimodal Representations (project 7). [LINK]

  • 2005 - 2008    External examiner M Phil. in Textual & Visual Studies (TVS), Trinity College Dublin. [LINK]

  • 9/'06 - Member “board of advisory editors” of Journal of Pragmatics [LINK]

  • Member “board of scientific advisors” of Public Journal of Semiotics. [LINK]


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Peer reviewing of articles, conference abstracts, PhDs, book proposals by Charles Forceville


  • January ’07      Peer review of article for Humor (via Salvatore Attardo).

  • August ’06       Peer review of article for Journal of Pragmatics (via Jacob Mey).

  • July ’06            Peer review of article for Functions of Language (via Geoff Thompson).

  • July ’06            Peer review of article for Public Journal of Semiotics (via Paul Bouissac).

  • Spring ’06        Confidential report on submitted project (provenance: University in Western Europe).

  • Oct. ’05    Peer review of article Journal of Pragmatics (via Jakob Mey).

  • Sept. ’05    Confidential report on submitted project (NWO, via Ms. Soeleman).

  • 3 Mei ‘05 PhD committee (advisor) Thomas van Rompay, TU Delft. Promotors: Paul Hekkert and Jan Jacobs

  • Nov. ’04     Peer review of article Document Design) (via Cathy De Waele).

  • Oct. ’04      Confidential report on grant request submitted at British Academy.

  • Sept. ’04     Peer review of article Philosophical Psychology (via Cees van Leeuwen).

  • July/Aug ’04 Examination PhD thesis Radu Daniliuc. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia . Promotor: Avery Andrews.

  • June ’04     Peer review of article Language and Literature (via Paul Simpson).

  • 13 April '04 PhD committee Tarja Laine, Universiteit van Amsterdam. [Promotor: Thomas Elsaesser]

  • 3 Dec. ’03   PhD committee Klarijn Loven, Universiteit Leiden (NL), promotor: Ben Arps.

  • Sept. ’03    Peer review of article special issue on metonymy Style (via Gerard Steen).

  • Oct. ’02      Peer review of article Poetics (via Cees van Rees).

  • Oct. ’02      Peer review of article Document Design (via Cathy de Waele).

  • Sept. ’02    Peer review of article Journal of Pragmatics (revised version).

  • August ’02  External report on tenure track proposal, University of Oklahoma, Texas (USA).

  • March ’02   Peer review of article for Metaphor and Symbol (via Ray Gibbs).

  • Jan. ’02      Peer review of two articles for proceedings RAAM IV (via Zouhair Maalej).

  • 2 Nov. ’01   External Examiner University of East Anglia (UK), Dept. of Language, Literature, and Translation/Film Studies. (Internal Examiner: Jon Cook).

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  • Nov. ’01     Peer review of article Journal of Pragmatics.

  • June ’01    Confidential report on book proposal Routledge (via Christy Kirkpatrick/Louisa Semlyen).

  • Dec. ’00     Peer review of article Science as Culture (via Richard Tutton, U. of Lancaster).

  • Oct. '00      Member steering committee of/ reviewing proposals for Conference "Researching and Applying Metaphor" (RAAM IV), University of Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia, 5-7 April 2001. Organization panel on pictorial metaphor. (org. Zouhair Maalej).

  • Oct. '00      Confidential report on submitted project (NWO, via Dr. H. Gooren).

  • Sept. '99    Confidential report on submitted project (NWO, via Drs. J. Nap).

  • Sept. '99    Peer review of article Meta­phor and Symbol (via John Kennedy).

  • June '99     Three peer reviews of articles metaphor special Theoria (Denmark, via Finn Collin).

  • Jan. '99      Reviewing proposals for Conference "Researching and Applying Metaphor" (RAAM III), KUB [Catholic University], Tilburg NL, July 1999 (org. Gerard Steen).

  • Sept. '95     Confidential report on submitted project (NWO, via Drs. J. Nap).

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Conference papers, seminars, workshops



  • 9-12 Oct. ‘08  Invited paper in panel "Zeichenmaterialität, Körpersinn und (sub-)kulturelle Identität" in conference Das Konkrete als Zeichen (German Society of Semiotics, at University of Stuttgart. (Panel org.: Klaus Sachs-Hombach & Eva Kimminich).



  • 21-26 May ‘07            Invited paper and workshop at “Multimodal Metaphor” expert meeting. Tilburg University. (Org. Fons Maes). [LINK]

  • 7-9 June ‘07    Invited paper at Signs of Identity – Exploring the Borders conference, Leibniz University Hanover (Org. Klaus Rehkämper et al.). [LINK]

  • 15-20 July ’07 Paper “The Source-Path-Goal schema in animation film” (with Marloes Jeulink) at 10th International Cognitivist Linguistics conference at Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Poland). [LINK]


  • 10-12/4/’06     “Sound and music in multimodal metaphor.” Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM 6). University of Leeds (UK).

  • 21-25/4/’06     Two invited lectures on multimodal metaphor, PhD course on Multimodal Discourse + one invited plenary lecture on Peter van Straaten, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Facultad de Letras/Ciudad Real (Spain). (Org. Rosario Caballero.

  • 5-7 July  ‘06    Invited lecture and workshop in Summer course “Multimodal discourse(s): image and communication.” Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha/ Cuenca, Facultad de Letras (Spain). (Org. Jesús Moya, Maria-Jésus Pinar, Rosario Caballero.)

  • 13 Oct. ’06      “Picturale en multimodale metaforen in reclame.” Lecture department Taalbeheersing, Argumentatie en Retorica. Universiteit van Amsterdam (org. Eveline Feteris).

  • 3 Nov. ’06       “Pictorial and multimodal metaphor in advertising.” Lecture department “English and Rhetoric” of University College Roosevelt Academy, Middelburg, NL (org. Michael Burke).

  • 23/2-3/3/’07    Various lectures and workshops at Universidad di Aruba and Instituto Pedagogico Arubano in Animation Art Aruba programme (org. Mirto Laclé).

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  • 10/15-7-’05    [With Eduardo Urios-Aparisi] Organization of panel “The Pragmatics of Multimodal Representations.” International Pragmatics Association. 9th Conference. Riva del Garda, Italy, + paper in this panel.


  • 17-2-’04     In-house pre-screening introduction to Grey Gardens (Maysles brothers, Ellen Hovde, USA 1974). In series Film Repertoire for Media Studies students.

  • 29-3-’04     Invited talk “Cultural factors in the interpretation of multimedial metaphor." Semiotics and the Humanities (International Congress jointly organized by Chinese Association of Social Sciences (CASS) and the International Association of Semiotic Studies (IASS), Beijing, China, March 25-29, 2004.

  • 11-7-’04     Paper “Addressing an audience: time, place, and genre in Peter van Straaten’s calendar cartoons” at Semiotics Conference, University Lumière II, Lyon, France.


  • 24-7-'03          “The source-path-goal schema in first person [travel] documentaries.” 20-25 July, 2003, ICLC 8 , University of Rioja, Logroño, Spain. [ International Cognitive Linguistics Association (ICLA): ]

  • 5-9-'03    “The source-path-goal schema in first person [travel] documentaries.”  RAAM V , 3-5 September 2003, Université Paris 13, France.

  • 24-28/9-'03     Invited talk “Pictorial metaphor in images and film.” Conference Bildwissenschaft zwischen Reflektion und Anwendung . Otto von Guericke Universität Magdeburg, Germany. Org. Klaus Sachs-Hombach. [ Virtuelle Institut für Bildwissenschaft (VIB): ]

  • 31-10-'03      Presentation on “complexity of words and images,” OSL, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (organization: Dick Schram).

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  • 4-1-'02            “Cognitive linguistics and cognitive film studies” PhD seminar University of Amsterdam . Dept. of Film and Television.

  • 22-2 '02          “Visual representations of the Idealized Cognitive Model of ANGER in comics.” Conference Social Cognition and Verbal Communication: Cultural Narratives, Linguistic Identities and Applied Argumentation in a Period of Social Transition,” University of Pécs (PTE), Hungary (invited paper).


  • 27-2-'02          “De semiotiek van het beeld in reclame” [The semiotics of the image in advertising] Lecture to +/- 120 students Communication Studies, Hogeschool van Amsterdam. (Contact: Dick Gilsing, Mireille Middelhof).


  • 13-3-'02          Introduction to screening Peter Greenaway's  ZOO/ A Zed and Two Noughts . Organisation: Amfibios (student film club dept. of philosophy, University of Amsterdam). CREA-building.


  • 15-3-'02          Workshop “Overtuigen met stijl: het raffinement van de reclamecommercial.” [“Persuading with style: the subtleties of the advertising commercial”] Dag van Taal & Cultuur , Rijks Universiteit Groningen/UCLO [Day organized for humanities/CKV secondary school teachers.]


  • 7-6-'02          Introductory workshop for secondary school pupils, Universiteit van Amsterdam (topic: In Eén Klap Phil van Tongeren, Netherlands, 9'30”).


  • 16-9-'02          “The source-path-goal schema in first person documentaries.” Laterna Magica Film Academy 9 conference Representations of Time and Space in Film (University of Pecs (PTE), Hungary, September 16-18, 2002).

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  • 6-4- 01          “Pictorial and multi-modal metaphor: Setting agendas for further research.” RAAM IV , University of Manouba , Tunis , Tunisia.


  • 12-4-01          "Visual representations of the ICM of ANGER in comics." PALA conference 21 Eotvos Lorand University, Buda­pest, Hungary. [Poetics and Linguistics Association: ]


  • 24-7-'01          "Blends and metaphors in multimodal representations." ICLC 7 conference, University of Santa Barbara CA, USA.


  • 22-2-00          Talk about Comfort of Strangers film-based-on-book, 1st year students "Film­academie" Amsterdam (Organisation: Ernie Tee).


  • 8-1-99            Participant symposium "Cognitive Stylis­tics" UvA, Humanities dept. (org. Peter Verdonk & Mi­chael Burke).


  • 16-3-'99        Talk about Comfort of Strangers film-based-on-book, 1st year students "Film­academie" Amsterdam (Organisation: Ernie Tee).


  • 3-6-'99            "Ervaringen met onderzoek naar intermedialiteit in de literatuurwetenschap: literatuur en film." OSL basiscursus "Interdisciplinariteit in de literatuur­wetenschap," VU Amster­dam, 3-4 June 1999.


  • 30/6-2/7-‘99   Paper on metaphor in Comfort of Strangers at RAAM III , Tilburg, The Netherlands.


  • 10-16/7 ‘99    “Metaphor in moving images.” ICLC 6 conference, Stockholm , Sweden.

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  • 23-1-'98        "Spelen met het Shakespeare-sonnet." Workshop nas­cholingscursus [Teach­ers' day] "De (On)­mogelijke liefde" (VU Amsterdam), 2 x 1,5 hrs.


  • 5+ 19-2-98      Lectures HOVO-course [for senior people] "Fiction & Film": "De hache­lijkheid van het herinneren" (Ishiguro/Ivory, The Remains of the Day ); "De motten en de lamp" (McEwan/Schrader, The Comfort of Strangers ).


  • 13-2-'98        Lecture "Woord en beeldrelaties." Na­scholingscursus [Teachers' day] "Reclame als discourse" ["Advertising as discourse"](VU Amsterdam, Engels/Taalkunde), 1 hr.


  • Fe­b '98 etc.    Lecture "Grenzeloze identiteiten in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Zwolle 17-2-'98, Rotterdam 3-3-'98, Leeuw­ar­den 17-3-'98, Apeldoorn 27-10-'98, Amsterdam 10-11-'98, Middelburg 8-2-'99), part of the VUSA-course De mo­derne Engelstalige roman [The modern novel in English].


  • 9-5-'98                   "Metaphor in moving images" Makars in motion Conference, organized by Iain Davidson/Scottish Word & Image Group (SWIG), Aberdeen, Scotland.


  • 14-10-'98       "Sinistere vooruitwijzingen in The Comfort of Strangers : verteltech­niek in de roman en de film." [Ominous foreboding in The Comfort of Stran­gers : narrative technique in the novel and the film.] Paper given at faculty "Cultuurwetenschappen," University of Maas­tricht.


  • 5/8-11-98       "Introduction" Day 1 ("Word & Image in Context") of two-day sym­posion Intermediality for PhD and MA students, Vrije Univer­siteit Brussel, i.s.m. Johan Callens (speakers: Leo Hoek, Gunther Kress, Ber­nard Scholz, Ed Tan).


  • 17-1-'97        Fiction & film: Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and James Ivory's The Remains of the Day " Workshop nas­cholingscursus [Teachers' day] "Over de gren­zen" (VU Amsterdam), 2 x 1,5 hrs (with Drs. K. Quint).


  • 17-3- '97       "Kijk, champagnebier: picturale metafoor in reclame" (VU Amster­dam), Workshop HOVO-course [= for senior people] Series Literatuur en Visuele Kunsten [Literature and Visual Arts], 3 hrs.


  • 3-7-'97                   "Metaphors in moving images." PALA 20 conference, Nottingham, UK.


  • 9-9-'97                   "She ... cradled his head against her breasts": The BABY meta­phor in Ian McEwan's, Harold Pinter's, and Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Stran­gers ." Cognitive stylistics panel, ESSE 4 conference, Debrecen, Hun­gary.

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  • 19-1-'96        " The Comfort of Strangers ": novel, screenplay, film." Workshop teachers' day "Dood en verderf" [Death and decay in word & image] (VU Amster­dam), 2,5 hrs.


  • 11-3- '96       "Kijk, champagnebier: picturale metafoor in reclame" (VU Amster­dam), Workshop HOVO-course [= for senior people] series Literatuur en Visuele Kunsten [Literature and Visual Arts], 3 hrs.


  • 12-'8-'96       "The influence of genre attribution on the interpreta­tion of ima­ges," Word & Image con­ference Dublin, 11-17 Augus­t.


  • 27-9-'96        "Metafo­rische beelden," [Metaphorical images] Symposium Ex Libris & Epi­logos. Van teksten naar beelden. [From texts to images] Faculty of Arts, Tilburg .


  • 6-11-'96        Lecture on Michael Ondaatje's In the skin of a lion in cycle "Masterpieces from Non-Western World Literature," Lei­den, ALW (Coordinators Prof. M. Schipper and Drs. U. Speerstra).


  • 17-12-'96        Workshop "De invloed van genre-toekenning op de inter­pretatie van beelden," [The influence of genre at­tribution on the inter­preta­tion of ima­ges] Basiscursus Intermediale Processen (OSL), VU Amsterdam.


  • 18-1-'95        "Towards a theory of pictorial metaphor." Lecture in series "Re­presentatie in kunst en wetenschap," Univer­sity of Amsterdam (organization: Bipin In­durkhya & Mehdi Dastani).


  • 6-2-'95            VUSA-course on Ishiguro's The remains of the day , Am­­sterdam VU (22-2: Middelburg; 6-3: Zwol­le; 16-10: Rotterdam; 31-10: Arnhem.)


  • 20-23/3 '95    Paper about the influence of genre-attribution on the interpretation of images, Conference Semiotics of the media , Kassel , Germany.


  • 30-11-'95        Speaker/participant interactive video symposium (Am­sterdam, Delft, Gro­nin­­gen, Toronto-Mc­Luhan In­stitute) on metaphor (part of "The World Se­ries on Culture and Techno­l­ogy" organised by "Amsterdam Cul­tural Stu­dies-inter­active" [ACS-i]). With: Geert Lovink (media-theorist) and others.

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  • April '94       Two post-graduate seminars on pictorial metaphor, Trin­ity College, Dublin.


  • April '94       Experiment about the influence of genre-attribution on the interpret­ation of images, Trinity College, Dublin.


  • 1993             Seminar on Nadine (Matt Cohen). VUSA-course Jewish-American literature . (Zwolle: 1 February; Amsterdam: 8 March; Leeuwar­den: 22 March; Utrecht: 15 November.)


  • 16-8-'93        "IBM is a tuning fork: degrees of freedom in inter­pret­ing pictorial meta­phors." Word & Image conference, Ottawa , Canada.


  • 4-10-'93        "Degrees of freedom in interpreting pictorial meta­phors." Con­ference "Zeichen und Zeit" Tübingen, Germany.


  • 13/14-10-'93  "De gekleurde bril van de metafoor." [The coloured glasses of metaphor.] Workshop as part of Weten­schapsweek 1993 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. [Science week for secondary school pupils.]


  • 6-12- '93       Seminar (3 hrs) on Alice Munro's Friend of my Youth , HOVO-course [for senior people] "Literary Highlights."


  • 20-3-'92        "Pictorial metaphor in printed advertisements," confe­rence To­wards a pragmatics of the audiovisual (Film and Tele­vision Stu­dies, Univer­sity of Amsterdam).


  • 11-6-'92        Pilot study "Responses to advertisements" [brief ex­peri­ment on the iden­tification of pictorial meta­phors], Faculty of Arts, Vrije Univer­siteit Amster­dam.


  • 2-9-'92          "Pragmatic aspects of (pictorial) metaphor.” “Ope­ning lecture" Dept. of English, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


  • 11-9-'92        Workshop "responses to billboard advertisements" PALA con­ference Gent. [Replication of experiment 11-6-'92 VUA.]


  • 13/14-10-'92  "De gekleurde bril van de metafoor." [The coloured glasses of metaphor.] Workshop as part of Weten­schapsweek 1992 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. [Science week for secondary school pupils.]

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  • 6 Nov. '91     Seminar on Alice Munro in Post-Academic Course "Post-war tendencies in Canadian and American lit­erature," Nijmegen (organizer: Dr. Hans Bak).


  • 25 Sept.'91    Introduction Canadian literature + seminar on Guy Vander­haeghe in Post-Academic Course "Post-war tendencies in Canadian and American litera­ture," Nijmegen (organizer: Dr. Hans Bak).


  • Sept. '91       "Pictorial metaphor in advertising: relevance per­spec­tives" PALA con­ference Lancaster.


  • 28-3-'91        On pictorial metaphor at Colloquium with Mark John­son, Inter­national School for Philosophy, Leusden.


  • 22 Nov. '90   On pictorial metaphor for "VU Letterkundekring", Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


  • 23 Oct. '90    "Layered structures in the fiction of Alice Munro," Con­ference on Com­monwealth Literature (University of Leiden, The Nether­lands).


  • Sept. '90       "Verbo-pictoral metaphors in advertisements," PALA con­ference , Amster­dam.


  • Aug. '90       "The role of context in pictorial advertise­ment meta­phors," Word & Image conference , Zürich.

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  • 3-6-'89             "De picturale metafoor in recla­mes" at the annual meeting of the Inter­national Society for the His­tory of Rhetoric (Dutch branch), Univer­siteit van Amsterdam, Klassiek Semi­narium.


  • 20-1-'89        "Picturale metafoor in recla­mes," con­fer­ence De semio­tiek van het vi­su­ele , organized by the Dutch So­ciety for Semiot­ics, Catholic Univer­si­ty Brabant (KUB), Til­burg.


  • 7-10-'88        "Iris Murdoch: het verzet tegen vorm" [Iris Mur­doch: the resistance to form] on con­ference Iris Murdoch: schrijf­ster en filosofe , International School for Phil­osophy, Leusden, 7-8 October 1989.


  • 18-3-'88        "Picturale reclamemetaforen" on Meta­phor -collo­quium, Vrije Universiteit, Amster­dam.


  • 15-10-'87       At conference Metaphor , Aesthet­ics So­ciety, Ljubl­jana, [former] Yugos­lavia + a talk in Sarajevo.


  • 8-5-'87           On Guy Vanderhaeghe's fiction at colloquium Con­tem­porary Ca­nadian Literature -- Possibly Post-Modern , Vrije Universi­teit, Amsterdam.

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Publications (selection)

    In preparation

  • Charles Forceville and Eduardo Urios-Aparisi (eds.), Multimodal Metaphor (Mouton De Gruyter).


  • Charles Forceville, “Relevanz und Praegnanz: Kunst als Kommunikation” [in German] In: Martina Plümacher and Wolfgang Wildgen (eds.), Zeitschrift für Semiotik. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, “Multimodal metaphor.” In: Ray Gibbs (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought.

  • Charles Forceville, “Pictorial and multimodal metaphor in commercials.” In: Edward F. McQuarrie & Barbara J. Phillips (eds), On Figure: New Directions in Advertising Rhetoric. Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe.

  • Charles Forceville, review of Rosario Caballero, Re-Viewing Space: Figurative Language in Architects’ Assessment of Built Space (Mouton De Gruyter 2006) for Metaphor and Symbol.

  • Charles Forceville, review of Anthony Baldry & Paul J. Thibault, Multimodal Transcription and Text Analysis: A Multimedia Toolkit and Coursebook. (Equinox 2006) for Journal of Pragmatics.

  • Charles Forceville, “Commentary” for Psychology of Anger (ed. Frank Columbus). Nova Science: Hauppauge NY.


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  • 2007

  • Charles Forceville, “Multimodal metaphor in ten Dutch TV commercials.” The Public Journal of Semiotics 1:1,19-51. [ABSTRACT]

  • 2006

  • Charles Forceville, ”Non-verbal and multimodal metaphor in a cognitivist framework: Agendas for research.” In: Gitte Kristiansen, Michel Achard, René Dirven and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza Ibàñez (eds.), Cognitive Linguistics: Current Applications and Future Perspectives. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 379-402. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, “The source-path-goal schema in the autobiographical journey documentary: McElwee, Van der Keuken, Cole.” The New Review of Film and Television Studies 4:3, 241-261. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, Paul Hekkert and Ed Tan. “The adaptive value of metaphors.” In: Uta Klein, Katja Mellmann, Steffanie Metzger (Eds.): Heuristiken der Literaturwissenschaft. Einladung zu disziplinexternen Perspektiven auf Literatur. Paderborn: Mentis, 85-109. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, review of Zoltán Kövecses, Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation (Cambridge University Press 2005). Journal of Pragmatics 38: 1528-1531.

  • Charles Forceville, review of Jonathan Charteris-Black, Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis (MacMillan/Palgrave 2004) Language and Literature 15: 402-405.


  • Charles Forceville, “Visual representations of the Idealized Cognitive Model of anger in the Asterix album La Zizanie.” Journal of Pragmatics 37: 1, 69-88. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, ”Cognitive linguistics and multimodal metaphor.” In: Klaus Sachs-Hombach (ed.), Bildwissenschaft: Zwischen Reflektion und Anwendung. Cologne: Von Halem, 264-284. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, “Addressing an audience: Time, place, and genre in Peter Van Straaten’s calendar cartoons.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 18:3, 247-278. [ABSTRACT]


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. Metaphor and Symbol 19:1 (2004), 83-89.

  • Charles Forceville, “The role of non-verbal sound and music in multimodal metaphor.” In: Henk Aertsen, Mike Hannay, and Rod Lyall (eds): Words in their Places: A Festschrift for J. Lachlan Mackenzie. Amsterdam: Faculty of Arts, VU Amsterdam, 65-78. [ABSTRACT]


  • Charles Forceville, "Bildliche und multimodale Metaphern in Werbespots” [Translated from English by Dagmar Schmauks] Zeitschrift für Semiotik, 25: 1-2, 39-60 [published June 2005]. [ABSTRACT]

  • Charles Forceville, Review of Zoltán Kövecses, Metaphor: A Practical Introduction . Journal of English Linguistics 31:2, 178-183.

  • Charles Forceville, Review of Yuri Engelhardt, The Language of Graphics: A Framework for the Analysis of Syntax and Meaning in Maps, Charts, and Diagrams . Document Design 4:3, 287-290.


  • Charles Forceville, “Creatieve waarheden.” [In Dutch. “Creative truths” – about documentary film] Skrien 35:2, 19-22.

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  • Charles Forceville, "The identification of target and source in pictorial metaphors." Journal of Pragmatics 34:1, 1-14. [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Lars Hermerén English for Sale: A Study of the Language of Advertising . Journal of Pragmatics 34:3, 341-44.


  • Charles Forceville, "The conspiracy in The Comfort of Strangers – narration in the novel and the film," Language and Literature 11: 2, 131-147. [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, "Further thoughts on delimiting pictorial metaphor." Theoria et Historia Scientiarum 6:1, 213-27. (Nicolaus Copernicus UP, Torun, Poland). [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Rick Altman, Film/Genre , Journal of Pragmatics. 33: 11, 1787-90.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Guy Cook, Language Play, Language Learning . Language and Literature 10: 4, 371-74.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Adrian Pilkington, Poetic Effects . Language and Literature 10: 4, 374-77.

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  • Charles Forceville, "Compasses, beauty queens and other PCs: pictorial metaphors in computer adver­tisements," Hermes, Journal of Linguistics 24, 31-55. [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, "Categorisering, genre en reclame." [In Dutch. “Categorization, genre and advertising”] In: Thomas Elsaesser and Pepita Hesselberth (eds), Hollywood op Straat . Amsterdam: Vossiuspers AUP, 2000, 58-73.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Bradd Shore's Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning Metaphor and Symbol 15:3, 189-95.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Brian McFarlane's Novel to Film: an Introduction to the Theory of Adap­tation . In: Sara Martín (ed.) Links and Letters 6 ("Word and Screen"), 145-48.


  • Charles Forceville, "Educating the eye? Kress and Van Leeuwen's Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (1996).” Review article, Language and Literature 8:2, 163-78.[ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, "The meta­phor ' COLIN IS A CHILD' in Ian McEwan's, Harold Pinter's, and Paul Schra­der's The Comfort of Strangers ." Metaphor and Symbol 14:3, 179-98. [ ABSTRACT]


  • Charles Forceville, "Art or ad?: the influence of genre-attribution on the interpreta­tion of images," SPIEL (Siegener Periodicum zur Internationalen Empirischen Literatur­wissenschaft] 18:2, 279-300. [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, "Grenzeloze identiteiten in The English Patient ." [In Dutch.] Bzzlletin 261-262, 13-26.

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  • Charles Forceville, Review of Keiko Tanaka, Advertising Language: a Pragmatic Approach to Advertisements in Britain and Japan (Routledge, 1994). Word & Image 14:3, 317-18.


  • Charles Forceville, "Metaphor" in: Paul Bouissac (ed.), Encyclopedia of Semiotics (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press), 411-15.


  • Charles Forceville, " The re­mains of the day : Ishiguro's boek en Ivory's film. De verfilming van romans als thema voor een les." [In Dutch] In: Dick Schram & Cor Geljon (eds), Grensver­leggend Litera­tuuronderwijs: Literaire en Kunstzinnige Vorming in de Tweede Fase . Zutphen: Thieme, 7-24.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Matthias Hurst, Erzählsituationen in Literatur und Film . [In Dutch] Tijdschrift voor Litera­tuurwetenschap 2:2, 178-81.


  • Charles Forceville, "Timothy Mo," Lexicon of Post-War Literatures in English 36, 1-17; A1; B1-B3.


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Louis Goossens, Paul Pauwels, Brygida Rudzka-Ostyn, Anne-Marie Simon-Vanden­bergen and Johan Vanparys, By word of Mouth: Metaphor, Metonymy and Linguistic Action in a Cognitive Perspective . Journal of Prag­matics 28:5, 637-44.


  • Charles Forceville, "Making literary studies matter more." SPIEL 16: 1/2, 116-20.

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  • Charles Forceville, Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising , London/New York: Routledge (ISBN 0-415-12868-4) 233 pp. [ SUMMARY BY AUTHOR ]

    [Reviews: (1) Iina Hellsten, “Mainoskuvien metaforat halki, poikki ja pinoon”, Finnish review devoted exclusively to the book, Tiedotustutkimus (1996:3), 82-84; (2) Richard Gwyn, "Limits of the literal: Five recent books about meta­phor," Journal of Socio­lin­guis­tics 1:2 (1997), 269-76 [ EXCERPT ]; (3) Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich, "Werbe­botschaften: Neues zur Semiotik der Marktkom­munika­tion," Me­dienwissenschaft: Rezensionen 1997/1, 31-37 [also published in Kodikas/Code: Ars Semeiotica 19:4 (1997), 399-404] [ EXCERPT ]; (4) John M. Kennedy, "Visual metaphor in contest," Semiotic Review of Books 8:2 (May 1997), 2-5 [ EXCERPT ]; (5) Sarah R. Stein, "Visuality and the Image," Journal of Com­munication 48:2 (1998), 170-77 [ EXCERPT ]; (6) Orly Goldwasser, untitled review devoted exclusively to the book, Journal of Pragmatics 31:4 (April 1999), 609-17 [ EXCERPT ]; (7) Patrick A. Cabe, untitled review devoted exclusively to the book, Metaphor and Symbol 14:3 (1999), 229-38. [ EXCERPT ]


  • Charles Forceville, 'As far as I remember': forms of evasive recall in the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro." In: Richard Todd & Henk Aertsen (eds), Chicago/Amsterdam -- A man of Two Cities: Essays in Memory of August J. Fry . Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 129-44.


  • Charles Forceville, “IBM IS A TUNING FORK: degrees of freedom in the interpretation of pictor­ial meta­phors." Poetics 23, 189-218. [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, Review of Guy Cook, The Discourse of Advertising . Word & Image 11:1, 103-105.


  • Charles Forceville, European Perspectives on English-Canadian Literature , Nijmegen: ACSN. Canada Cahier 8. Edited and introduced by Charles For­ceville & Hillig van 't Land (eds), 1995, 68 pp.


  • Charles Forceville, "(A)symmetry in metaphor: the importance of extended context." Poetics Today , 16:4, 677-708. [ ABSTRACT ]

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  • Charles Forceville, "Pictorial metaphor in advertisements," Metaphor and Symbolic Ac­tivity 9:1, 1-29 . [ ABSTRACT ]


  • Charles Forceville, "Pictorial metaphor in billboards: relevance theory per­spec­tives." In Jürgen E. Müller (ed.), Towards a Pragmatics of the Audiovisual vol. 1, Münster: Nodus Publikationen, 93-113.


  • Charles Forceville, "Towards a delineation of pictorial simile." Kodi­kas/Code 17: 1-4, 187-202.


  • Charles Forceville, " Nadine van Matt Cohen." [In Dutch] In: B. Voorsluis (ed.) Joods-Amerikaanse Literatuur 4. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 85-104.


  • Charles Forceville, "Alice Munro's layered structures." In: C. Barfoot & Th. D'haen (eds), Shades of Empire in Colonial and Post-Colonial Litera­tures. Amsterdam/ Atlanta GA: Rodopi, 301-10.


  • Charles Forceville, Review [in Dutch] of Fred van Besien, Metafoor en Onderwijs [Metaphor and Educa­tion]. Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire , 71:3, 763-65.


  • Charles Forceville, "Kazuo Ishiguro." Lexicon of Post-War Literatures in English 17, 1-9; A1; B1-B2.


  • Charles Forceville, "'Allemaal verleden tijd' -- over de romans van Kazuo Ishiguro" [In Dutch. 'All over now' – about the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro]. Bzzlletin 183, 53-62.


  • Charles Forceville, "Verbo-pictorial metaphor in advertisements," Parlance 3:1, 7-19.


  • Charles Forceville, "Alice Munro." Lexicon of Post-war Literatures in English 13, 1-13; A1-A2; B1-B2.

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  • Charles Forceville, "Guy Vanderhaeghe." Post-war Literatures in English 8, 1-4; A1; B1-B2.


  • Charles Forceville, Verhalen uit Canada , [Stories from Canada], edited by Charles Forceville, August Fry and Leo Gillet, with an afterword by the anthologists, Van Gennep: Amsterdam.


  • Charles Forceville, "De ellende met helden -- 'macht' en 'onmacht' in de fictie van Guy Vander­haeghe" [In Dutch. The trouble with heroes -- "power" and "power­lessness" in the fiction of Guy Vanderhaeghe], Bzzlletin 152, 46-50.


  • Charles Forceville, "The case for pictorial metaphor: René Magritte and other Surrealists". In: Ales Erjavec, (ed.) Vestnik IX, Institut za Marksist­icne Studije, Ljubljana, 150-160.


  • Charles Forceville, External and Detached: Dutch Essays on Contemporary Canadian Litera­ture . Edited by Charles Forceville, August Fry and Peter de Voogd . Canada Cahiers 4, Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 64 pp.


  • Charles Forceville, " My Present Age and the 'Ed'-stories; the role of language and story- telling in Guy Vander­haeghe's fiction", in External and Detached , 53-61.


  • Charles Forceville, "Language, time and reality: the stories of Alice Munro," in Exter­nal and Detached , 37-44.


  • Charles Forceville, "Some notes on Canadian literature in The Netherlands", in David Homel and Sherry Simon (eds.), Mapping Litera­ture: the Art and Politics of Translation . Montréal: Véhicule Press, 111-12.


  • Charles Forceville, "Metafoor en maatschappij" [In Dutch. Metaphor and society], Massacommunicatie 3, 268-76.


  • Charles Forceville, Canadian Mosaic: Essays on Multiculturalism . Edited by August Fry and Charles For­ceville. Canada Cahiers no. 3, Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 92 pp.


  • Charles Forceville, "Craig Raine's poetry of perception." Dutch Quarterly Review , 15:2, 102-15.

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Abstracts of articles and book chapters by Charles Forceville

Charles Forceville (2006). “Multimodal metaphor in ten Dutch TV commercials.” Public Journal of Semiotics 1:1, 19-51


ABSTRACT. Since the publication of Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (1980), conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) has dominated metaphor studies. While one of the central tenets of that monograph is that metaphors are primarily a phenomenon of thought, not of language, conceptual metaphors have until recently been studied almost exclusively via verbal expressions. Another limitation of the CMT paradigm is that it has tended to focus on deeply embedded metaphors rather than on creative metaphors of the kind that Black (1979) discusses. One result of this focus is that relatively little attention is paid in CMT to the form and appearance a metaphor can assume (cf. Lakoff and Turner 1989). Clearly, which channel(s) of information (language, visuals, sound, gestures, among others) are chosen to convey a metaphor is a central factor in how a metaphor is construed and interpreted. A healthy theory of metaphor as a structuring element of thought therefore requires systematic examination of both its multimodal and its creative manifestations. Conversely, research into non-verbal and multimodal metaphor can help the theorization of multimodality.

In this paper it is shown that creative metaphors occurring in commercials usually draw on a combination of language, pictures, and non-verbal sound. After an inventory of parameters involved in the analysis of multimodal metaphors, ten cases are discussed, with specific attention to the role of the various modes in the metaphors’ construal and interpretation. On the basis of the case studies, the last sections of the paper discuss three issues that are crucial for further study: (1) the ways in which similarity is cued in multimodal, as opposed to verbal, metaphors; (2) the problems adhering to the verbalization of multimodal metaphors; (3) the influence of textual genre on the interpretation of multimodal metaphors.

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Charles, Forceville, “Relevanz und Praegnanz: Kunst als Kommunikation” [“Relevance and “prägnanz”: Art as communication”]. In: Martina Plümacher and Wolfgang Wildgen (eds.), Zeitschrift für Semiotik, forthcoming.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT. The elusive German concept “prägnanz,” used as a form of praise for artistic representations, pertains to the aesthetic and emotional impact on its appreciators, but also to the concise way in which this impact is achieved. Impact and conciseness correspond, it is assumed, to what in Sperber and Wilson’s communication theory, Relevance theory (1986, 1995), are called “effect” and “effort.” The proposal to consider art as a special form of communication is explored by using concepts from the Relevance Theory framework. The article ends by demonstrating the viability of the framework by applying it to Blindenspiegel (1998), a work by the Dutch artist Erna van Sambeek.

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Charles Forceville, Paul Hekkert, Ed Tan (2006). "The adaptive value of metaphors". In: Uta Klein, Katja Mellmann, Steffanie Metzger (eds), Heuristiken der Literaturwissenschaft. Einladung zu disziplinexternen Perspektiven auf Literatur . Paderborn: Mentis, 85-109.

ABSTRACT. In this article we speculate that the human ability to metaphorize has adaptive value. Our argument runs as follows: Darwinian survival requires adaptation; adaptation requires learning; and learning crucially involves metaphorizing. To metaphorize is to map the meaning, emotions and/or attitudes associated with one, more or less familiar, conceptual domain (the source) onto another, more or less unfamiliar, conceptual domain (the target). Metaphors have survival value because they are economical and allow for the development of new perspectives. Since pleasure facilitates learning, we hypothesize that the aesthetic attractiveness of metaphors increases with the degree to which they obey the principle of minimum means for maximum effect. After showing that there is a continuum from entrenched or integrated metaphors to creative ones, we discuss our claims with reference to six case studies from the realm of advertising, design, and art.

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Charles Forceville, “Addressing an audience: time, place, and genre in Peter Van Straaten’s calendar cartoons.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 18:3, 247-278 (2005).

ABSTRACT. Cartoons, like other forms of mass media, are aimed not just at anybody, but at a multitude of individuals. The extent to which these numerous individuals understand the cartoons in the same way depends not only on their shared interpretations of the word & image texts themselves, but also on interpretation strategies suggested by the (near)identical circumstances under which the cartoons are accessed. As Gail Dines points out, “locating cartoons within the cultural realm of mass communication requires an understanding of how these media forms come into existence and how they are consumed by the intended audience” (1995: 238). To understand better how cartoons are processed, it is necessary to generalize about contextual factors governing their perception. In this paper I examine cartoons by the Dutchman Peter van Straaten that all appeared on a tear-off calendar in the year 2001. The question addressed is how the temporal and spatial circumstances under which the cartoons are accessed, in combination with the generic conventions of the calendar in which they appear, trigger the activation of specific cognitive schemata, and thus steer and constrain possible interpretations. The general framework in which these matters are discussed is Sperber and Wilson’s (1995) Relevance Theory.


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Charles Forceville, “Cognitive linguistics and multimodal metaphor.”In: Klaus Sachs-Hombach (ed.), Bildwissenschaft: Zwischen Reflektion und Anwendung. (ed. Klaus Sachs-Hombach). Cologne: Von Halem, 264-284 (2005).

ABSTRACT. Although the cognitive approach to metaphor emphasizes that metaphor is primarily a conceptual, and only derivatively a linguistic matter, it focuses almost exclusively on verbal manifestations of conceptual metaphor. Studying pictorial and other non-verbal metaphors, however, is indispensable not only as a means to chart Idealized Cognitive Models (e.g., Lakoff 1987, Kövecses 2000), but also to stimulate the integration of cognitive and cultural dimensions of metaphor (e.g., Emanatian 1995, Hutchins 1995, Shore 1996, Gibbs 1999a). This article is an attempt to outline the parameters that need to be identified and analysed for the label “multimedial metaphor” to make sense.

KEYWORDS: Pictorial metaphor; picture analysis; images & cognition; commercials.

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Charles Forceville, Visual representations of the Idealized Cognitive Model of anger in the Asterix album La Zizanie,” Journal of Pragmatics 37: 1, 69-88 (2005).

ABSTRACT. The conceptual metaphor program launched by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) attempts to chart and describe the Idealized Cognitive Models that govern human thinking. The manifestations of these models studied hitherto, however, are almost exclusively verbal ones. In the interest of enriching insights into ICMs, non-verbal and multimedial representations need be investigated as well. In turn, picture theory can benefit from instruments developed in the cognitive linguistics paradigm.

 Kövecses (1986, 2000) has demonstrated that verbal expressions and idioms used to describe emotions can be traced back to a limited number of conceptual metaphors. This paper investigates non-verbal manifestations of anger in the Asterix comics album La Zizanie in the light of Kövecses’ findings. It is argued (i) that the representations of anger found here are, at the least, compatible with the most dominant anger metaphor found by Kövecses, ANGER IS THE HEAT OF A FLUID IN A CONTAINER, and are probably motivated by it; and (ii) that the medium of comics may privilege aspects of ICMs that are less dominant, or even absent, in its linguistic manifestations. Furthermore, the method of analysis employed is reflected on, since it is intended to be applicable beyond the questions addressed here.


KEYWORDS: Anger; Idealized Cognitive Models; Asterix; Picture analysis; Images & Cognition.


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 Charles Forceville, “The role of non-verbal sound and music in multimodal metaphor.” In: Henk Aertsen, Mike Hannay, and Rod Lyall (eds) Words in their Places: A Festschrift for J. Lachlan Mackenzie. Amsterdam: Faculty of Arts, VU Amsterdam, 65-78 (2004).

ABSTRACT. Andrew Ortony’s (1979) Metaphor and Thought (1979) and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (1980) provided the base for what, in the next 25 years, developed into a tremendous revival of research into the trope. However, the vast majority of publications in the conceptual metaphor paradigm (e.g., Johnson 1987, 1993, Lakoff 1987; Lakoff and Turner 1989, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, 2003, Kövecses 2000, 2002, Gibbs 1994; Gibbs & Steen 1999) focuses only on verbal manifestations of metaphor. The crucial claim that metaphor is “not a figure of speech, but a mode of thought” (Lakoff 1993: 210) oddly did not preclude theorists from almost exclusively discussing verbal manifestations of conceptual metaphor. This biased view is now gradually being corrected. Research into pictorial (or: visual) metaphor is by now well under way (for references see Forceville, in press, forthcoming). By contrast, investigations into the role of sound in multimodal metaphor are hitherto rare (exceptions are Cook 1998: chapter 2; Thorau, in press, both examining metaphor in music). The present article is an exploration of how sound and music can contribute to metaphor by discussing ten cases of such metaphors. Five originate in advertising, with its clearly identifiable and specifiable genre-convention of attempting to persuade an audience of positive qualities adhering to a specific product; and five are fragments from art film, a genre which is supposed – let us say with Horace – to delight, instruct, and move.

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 Charles Forceville, "Bildliche und multimodale Metaphern in Werbespots. ” [Translated from English by Dagmar Schmauks] Zeitschrift für Semiotik 25: 1-2, 39-60 (2003).

ENGLISH ABSTRACT. Studying pictorial metaphor and other forms of non-verbal metaphor is indispensable for the development of a complete and balanced theory of cognitive metaphor, and moreover provides a practical tool for the analysis of certain images. Hitherto, the scant literature has primarily focused on pictorial metaphor in static images. This article focuses on pictorial and multi-modal metaphor in moving images, specifically commercials. Pictorial metaphors in moving imagesdiffer from those in static ones in at least the following respects: (1) target and source need not be represented (or suggested) simultaneously, but can occur after one another; (2) in the post-silent film era, a metaphorical term can be cued by the aural track (via music or a sound effect) as well as by visual information. In the latter case the metaphor is better labeled „multimodal“ than „pictorial“; (3) framings and camera movements can create metaphorical similarity in ways not open to static, standalone pictures and photographs. The model developed for static pictorial metaphors developed in Forceville (1996)is shown to be adaptable to those in moving images. The article ends by discussing some questions raised by the analyses, and by suggesting avenues for further research.

Charles Forceville. “The conspiracy in The comfort of strangers – narration in the novel and the film.” Language and Literature
11: 2, 131-147 (2002).


ABSTRACT. Since stories increasingly take on pic­torial and mixed-medial forms, nar­ratology needs to investigate to what extent nar­ra­tive devices exceed the boundaries of a specific me­dium. One way to examine this issue is to focus on film adap­tations of nar­rato­logically complex novels or stories. This article presents a detailed com­parison of the nar­ration in McEwan's (1981) The Comfort of Strangers and Schrader's (1990) film based on a scenario by Harold Pinter. It is shown how the novel creates deliber­ate con­fusion (via free indirect speech and thought) about the agency responsible for the con­veyance of crucial infor­mation, and how the film finds non-verbal means to achieve the same effect.


KEYWORDS: Narration in fiction and film, Free Indirect Discourse, The Comfort of Strangers, Ian McEwan, Paul Schrader, Harold Pinter.



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Charles Forceville. “The identification of target and source in pictorial metaphors.” Journal of Pragmatics 34:1, 1-14 (2002).


ABSTRACT. Lakoff and Johnson's dictum that "metaphor is primarily a matter of thought and action and only derivatively a matter of language (1980: 153) has given rise to numerous studies investigating how metaphors' verbal manifestations relate to their cognitive origins. Curious­ly, little attention has hitherto been paid to a logical extension of this adage, namely the examination of non-verbal metaphor, for instance pictorial metaphor. In this article, Noel Carroll's (1994, 1996) proposals concerning the nature and identifiability of pictorial metaphors are discussed in terms of the model developed by Forceville (1996). Two theses inherent in Carroll's approach are investigated and rejected: (1) that most prototypical pictorial metaphors, unlike verbal ones, allow a reversibility of their respective targets and sources; and (2) that prototypical pictorial metaphors are `homospatially noncompossible', that is, that they are visual hybrids. The article ends by making suggestions concerning the inves­ti­gation of cinematic metaphors in line with Forceville (1996).


KEYWORDS: Pictorial/visual metaphor; picture analysis; images & cognition; metaphorical (ir)reversibility.



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Charles Forceville, "Further thoughts on delimiting pictorial metaphor." Theoria et Historia Scientiarum 6:1,  213-27. (Nicolaus Copernicus UP, Toruń, Poland).


ABSTRACT. The concept of pictorial metaphor is in need of further theorizing. After a summary of the model of pictorial metaphor developed in Forceville (1996), some adaptations to this model are proposed to accommodate future manifestations of non-verbal, and multimedial, metaphor. Apart from introducing some modifications to the earlier terminology, the article addresses the matters of (i) the irreversibility of target and source in pictorial metaphors, (ii) the possibility of pictorial metaphor in moving images; and (iii) thorny questions pertaining to the need to verbalize pictorial and multimedial metaphors.


KEYWORDS: Pictorial/visual metaphor; multimedial metaphor; verbalizing non-verbal metaphor; metaphor in moving images.



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Charles Forceville. “Compasses, beauty queens and other PCs: pictorial metaphors in computer advertisements." Hermes, Journal of Linguistics 24, 2000 (ed. Carlo Grevy), 31-55.


ABSTRACT. Computer advertisements make extensive use of pictorial metaphors. The model proposed in Forceville (1996) is used as a starting point to analyze 27 advertisements in PC Magazine, July/August 1999 (American edition) that contain a pictorial metaphor. The aim is twofold: (1) to further contribute to the theory of pictorial metaphor by testing the model against a new corpus; (2) to make an inventory of the source domains used in the metaphors, and thereby to make some observations about the ways in which representations of computer technology interact with our daily lives.


KEYWORDS: Pictorial/visual metaphor; computer advertisements; images & cognition.


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Charles Forceville. “The metaphor 'COLIN IS A CHILD' in Ian McEwan's, Harold Pinter's, and Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers." Metaphor and Symbol 14:3, 1999, 179-98.


ABSTRACT. In the cognitivist paradigm, metaphor's conceptual nature is investigated almost exclusively in its verbal manifestations. Research on non-verbal expressions of conceptual metaphors is still surprisingly scarce. While some pioneering work has been done in the area of pictorial metaphor, this has hitherto focused on specific instances of isolated metaphors. For better insight into the nature of conceptual metaphors, it is necessary to examine if they can be rendered pictorially and mixed-medially and, if so, what forms they could take. In this case-study, a structural metaphor from Ian McEwan's novel The comfort of strangers is analysed and compared to its counterpart in the film Paul Schrader based on the book. The article ends with suggestions for generalizations across different media, including a distinction between explicitly and implicitly signalled metaphors.



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Charles Forceville. “Educating the eye? Kress and Van Leeuwen's Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (1996).” Language and Literature 8:2, 1999, 163-78.


ABSTRACT. This review article of Kress and Van Leeuwen's Reading Images (1996) begins by giving a summary of its contents, in which its innovative and daring proposals are highlighted. In the following sections, some weaknesses and controversial aspects of the book are discussed. Both are seen as following from the semiotic and ideological approach adopted by the authors. Specifically, these affect the proposals for the classification and interpretation of images, and the degree to which the concepts delineated are generalizable. In the last sections, tentative sugges­tions are made how KvL's approach is relevant to the currently emerging 'cogn­itivist' paradigm.



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Charles Forceville. "Art or ad?: the influence of genre-attribution on the interpreta­tion of images." SPIEL (Siegener Periodicum zur Internationalen Empirischen Literatur­wissenschaft] 18:2, 1999, 279-300.


ABSTRACT. The interpretation of an image is not only guided by text-intenal information, but also by the genre to which it belongs. To test this hypothesis, this paper presents an exploratory empirical investigation. Three related images without accompanying text were shown to two groups of subjects; to one group as if they were advertisements, to the other group as if they were artistic representations. The hypothesis that the different genre-attributions influenced the interpretations by the subjects was confirmed. A notable difference was that people in the “ad condition” projected positive associations from the most salient object in the picture onto the (unknown) product, while people in the “art condition” commented upon various contrasts and tensions between these salient objects and their contexts. The results are discussed with reference to Siegfried Schmidt’s (1991) distinction between polyvalence versus monovalence conventions, and between esthetic and fact conventions.


KEYWORDS: Genre, interpretation conventions, relevance theory, empirical research, IBM.



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Charles Forceville. “(A)symmetry in metaphor: the importance of extended context.” Poetics Today, 16:4, 1995, 677-708.


ABSTRACT. A crucial aspect of the investigation of any metaphor is the assess­ment which of its two terms is the tenor and which the vehicle. This issue is less uncontrover­sial than is often thought. The present paper dis­cusses three related aspects of the matter. In the first place, Black's (1962, 1979) inter­action theory is shown not to support the bidirect­ionality of feature trans­fer or even the reversibil­ity of terms, as is sometimes claimed (e.g., by Haus­man 1989 and Lakoff & Turner 1989). Secondly, three experimental studies analyzing what prin­ciples guide the dis­tribu­tion of tenor and vehicle (Malgady & John­son 1980; Verbrugge 1980; and Connor & Kogan 1980) are criticized for ignoring con­text-levels beyond the sen­tence. Thirdly, whereas the overall stance taken in this paper is that the projection of features in a metaphor is only from vehicle upon tenor, and not vice versa, there appear to be except­ions to this prin­ciple. Four examples are dis­cussed in some detail and an attempt is made to account for them.



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Charles Forceville. This version sent to Poetics on 27 October 1994"IBM IS A TUNING FORK: Degrees of freedom in the interpretation of pictorial metaphors." Poet­ics
23, 1995, 189-218.


ABSTRACT. The article reports the results of a highly explora­tory ex­periment pertaining to the identification and interpre­tation of what are claimed to be (verbo)pictorial metaphors in three IBM bill­board advertisements. The experiment makes use of a design developed by Mick & Politi (1989) and relies on the metaphor theory of Black (1962, 1979) and its adaptation to pictures in Forceville (1991, 1994a, 1994b). The ex­peri­ment tests (1) whether the par­ti­cipants in the experi­ment (acade­mics working in the field of language or literature) identify the metaphors as such, with­out explicitly having been fore­warned to look for metaphors; (2) to what extent the parti­cipants agree in their interpretations of these professed meta­phors. Moreover the data provide insight into what associ­ations the billboards evoke in participants besides those the partici­pants think the adver­tisers intended them to have. The ex­peri­ment makes use of existing billboards (i.e., "real-world texts" ‑‑ see Kreuz & Roberts 1993: 152) and focuses on qual­itative rather than quantitative results.



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Charles Forceville. “Pictorial metaphor in advertisements.” Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 9:1, 1994, 1-29.


ABSTRACT. Metaphor has been first and foremost studied in its verbal variants. As Lakoff and Johnson (1980) claimed, however, “metaphor is primarily a matter of thought and only derivatively a matter of language”(p. 153). Presuming this idea to be correct, this article makes an exploratory contribution to the study of a different type of metaphor, namely, pictorial metaphor. With reference to Black’s (1962, 1979) interaction theory, several pictorial metaphors in advertisements are considered with the following discussion in mind: What are the two terms of the metaphor and how do we know? Which of the two terms is the (“literal”) A-term and which is the ( “figurative”) B-term? And what can be said about the transfer of properties from B to A? Contextual factors of various kinds help to answer these questions. A tentative subdivision is made into metaphor with one pictorially present term and metaphors with two pictorially present terms.

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Charles Forceville. (forthcoming). “Pictorial and multimodal metaphor in commercials.” In: Edward F. McQuarrie & Barbara J. Phillips (eds), On Figure: New Directions in Advertising Rhetoric. Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe.


ABSTRACT. Deploying metaphor is an attractive and efficient way for advertisers to make positive claims for their products, brands, or services. For a long time, metaphor studies focused almost exclusively on language, but over the past fifteen years, the concept of pictorial (or visual) metaphor has been fairly well developed, particularly in the realm of print advertising and billboards. Metaphors, however, also occur in commercials. Their occurrence in moving images is more complex than in static ones, both because the two parts of a metaphor (“target” and “source”) need not occur simultaneously and because music and sound may here also play a role in the identification and interpretation of metaphor. These factors necessitate a theoretical shift from pictorial to multimodal metaphor. This paper discusses nine case studies of commercials containing pictorial and multimodal metaphors with the aim to define, and speculate about the effects of, the various parameters that play a role in the way they can occur. The last section discusses how the effect of these parameters can be tested in empirical research.

Charles Forceville. (2006). “The source-path-goal schema in the autobiographical journey documentary: McElwee, Van der Keuken, Cole.” The New Review of Film and Television Studies 4:3, 241-261.


ABSTRACT. The source-path-goal schema is one of the most fundamental schemas governing human conceptualizing with regard to sense-making (Johnson 1993, Turner 1996). Literally structuring the concept of the journey (involving a starting point, trajectory, and destination), by extension it shapes our understanding of what constitutes a purposeful life (initial problems or ambition, actions, solution or achievement) and story (beginning, middle, end). Hitherto, discussions of this schema have almost exclusively focused on its verbal manifestations. This paper analyses three autobiographical documentaries in which the filmmaker undertakes a journey: Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March (1986), Johan van der Keuken’s De Grote Vakantie [The Long Holiday] (2001), and Frank Cole’s Life Without Death (1999). The paper’s aim is double-edged: to demonstrate the necessity of studying the source-path-goal schema in multimodal, rather than just in purely verbal manifestations; and to show how the source-path-goal schema both enriches and constrains possible interpretations of the three documentaries under consideration. It is moreover claimed that, in the last resort, journey and quest levels are inevitably made subservient to the story level.

KEYWORDS: Autobiographical journey documentary, story-telling, metaphor, identity-construction, Ross McElwee, Johan van der Keuken, Frank Cole.

Charles Forceville. (2006). ”Non-verbal and multimodal metaphor in a cognitivist framework: Agendas for research.” In: Gitte Kristiansen, Michel Achard, René Dirven and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza Ibàñez (eds.), Cognitive Linguistics: Current Applications and Future Perspectives. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 379-402.


ABSTRACT. Cognitive metaphor theory (CMT) has over the past 25 years amply sought to underpin the claim that humans’ pervasive use of verbal metaphor reflects the fact that they think largely metaphorically. If this tenet of CMT is correct, metaphor should manifest itself not just in language but also via other modes of communication, such as pictures, music, sounds, and gestures. However, non-verbal and multimodal metaphor have been far less extensively studied than their verbal sisters. The present article provides a review of work done in this area, focusing on a number of issues that require further research. These issues include the proposal to distinguish between monomodal and multimodal metaphor; reflections on the difference between structural and creative metaphor; the question of how verbalizations of non-verbal or conceptual metaphors may affect their possible interpretation; thoughts as to how similarity between target and source is created; and suggestions about the importance of genre for the construal and interpretation of metaphor.

KEYWORDS: Monomodal and multimodal metaphor; pictorial metaphor; structural versus creative metaphor; similarity in metaphor; genre.

Reviews of Charles Forceville Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising (Routledge, 1996)

From: Richard Gwyn, "Limits of the literal: Five recent books about metaphor," Journal of Sociolinguistics 1:2 (1997), 269-76:


"stimulating insights … argues convincingly. … Stylistically, Forceville includes some idiosyncratic uses of gender attribution, such as referring to the London Under­ground as 'she', and generally I found this book the most readable, though perhaps that only betrays my own interest in the subject matter (274). ... and while maintaining a respectful appreciation for the books by Steen and White, find more that I can apply to my own discipline in the studies by Gibbs and by Forceville.”



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From: Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich, "Werbebotschaften: Neues zur Semiotik der Marktkommunikation," Medienwissenschaft: rezensionen 1997/1, 31-37 [also published in Kodikas/Code: Ars Semeiotica 19:4 (1997), 399-404] (translated from German by Charles Forceville):


“… By contrast, reading Charles Forceville's book about Pictorial Meta­phor in Advertising is a relief. … It combines high scholarly claims with an unpretentious presentation, a solidly grounded theor­etical basis with clear demonstrations. … The author's point of departure was not at all the realm of advertising, but rather the metaphor as a rhetorical figure of speech, to which a lot of attention was paid in recent years, although this interest pertained mainly to its verbal, semantic, and cognitive aspects. Forceville argues that meta­phor should also be sought in pictorial texts.  …

            In all three books [reviewed here, ChF] what is at stake are multi-coded texts, that is texts consisting of symbolic-verbal and iconic-pictorial parts. Here resides the semiotic challenge, for it is to be expected (or to be hoped) that linguists have a lot of plausible things to say about the verbal part. The first author … tries to solve the problem by first of all verbalizing the image, in order to be able to analyse the resulting verbal paraphrase according to text-linguistic conventions. What is lost in this double translation process (or what is added) remains unclear. The other author … attempts to dissect the image in "semes," so as to establish a contrast between, for instance, the "Earthly" and the "Cos­mic." The supposedly "objectively" found result is mere specu­lation. It is always the author's reading which categorizes the semes.

            [Forceville] presents by far the most convin­cing solution to the problem. He refrains from first verbal­izing the pictorial elements of the advertisements and bill­boards in order to facilitate a traditional analyis using Van Dijk-like instruments, and he refuses to curtail his view by a too (academic) culturally restricted horizon, under which an advertisement for a cooker hood can only be interpreted as an expression of the Sleeping Beauty topos [I take this to be a jibe at an example discussed by one of the other two authors discussed. ChF]. …

            … Forceville offers an unprejudiced view of the material itself, and is always prepared to relativize his own suggestions for better under­standing of the process by the plurality of ways of seeing volunteered by others and, in concrete methodological terms, of two groups of co-interpreters, whose sometimes surprisingly unorthodox, even amusingly subversive, interpretations he effortlessly manages to incorporate in his concepts. No narrow-minded schematiza­tion by categorizing texts under the headings of feeble fairy tales and myths, or its packaging in mer­cantile graphs, but an inquiring, unbiased analysis, ground­ed both in theoretical and empirical observations, without unnecessary verbosity, always open to the variegations of human commun­ication, even its unpredictable versions …”



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From: John M. Kennedy, "Visual metaphor in contest," Semiotic Review of Books 8:2 (May 1997), 2-5:


"Forceville's book on metaphor in pictures is by far the most com­prehe­nsive examination of the topic thus far. ... Interestingly, Forceville suggests a similarity between two things can be created by the metaphor … The question is -- do we understand these pictures as metaphors, flagrant or discrete, and if so in what way? ... We might happily accept that pictures in ads are versions of what would be metaphors in language. But does this tell us much about theory of metaphor? … [I]n the long run these are just descriptions, and, to be frank, post hoc. They are not actual theories of how interaction occurs, or how relevance is established. ... But [Sedivy, 1997] says that we can accept this thesis about pictures but firmly deny the prize being sought by analysts of meta­phoric pictures -- a systematic theory. In a radical argument, she claims there is no system to be found in this domain whatsoever. For Sedivy, there cannot be a theory of metaphor in pictures because there could not be any systematic prin­ciples mediating between literal content, contextual factors and background knowl­edge. Instead there are happenstances to do with the shapes of airline tickets in a particular time, cultural accidents such as the Great Wall, historical particulars about the shape of beer containers [= reference to examples in the book, ChF] ... To know metaphor is to know a culture we live within, not a set of general rules that can generate all metaphors.

            Sedivy's point is a challenge to metaphor theory of course. Part of its radical import for theory of metaphor in pictures arises from its being aligned with still greater challenges to wider matters. The foundations of cognitive science as a coherent discipline are uncomfortable places to be these days as challenges are raised to the idea that we can systematize any major area of thought in any thoroughgoing way. If metaphor theory goes Sedivy's way, so too may theory of analogy, problem-solving, in­fer­ence, memory and perhaps even perception. ... Vervaeke concludes that the im­perat­ive behind three decades of cognitive science to find systematic, natural laws of thinking that can be applied widely is facing defeat. ... [Sedivy and Vervaeke] converge on this: Comprehension is not dictated by reactions to senten­ces and pictures in a context-free fashion. We react to any particular event by virtue of its relation to a highly-variable context. We apply our knowledge of context in a reasonable way, and there is no set of rules for what is reasonable. ... Some theorists like Forceville attempt to argue we do what is "relevant." We react to specific messages, most especially novel ones, in ways that show we are flexible and appreciate the circumstances, Forceville says. But this is simply a way of re­phrasing Sedivy and Vervaeke. Far from finessing Sedivy's argument about meta­phors and our inability to give rules for reasonableness, Forceville's acknowledge­ment of the observer's flexibility plays into her hands. ... And if Forceville goes down so too must the rest of cognitive science, if Vervaeke is correct. ...

            Neither Sedivy nor Vervaeke are denying determinism, I hasten to add. Both think that our decisions and the interpretations we come to are influenced by events. But the events and our comprehension are comparatively open-ended. What is relevant one time is not another. There is no clear way to establish what will inevitably be relevant ... The goal of finding natural general universal laws is greatly diminished in importance by Sedivy and Vervaeke, and what is increased in stature is the goal of finding out how people think and communicate in particular locales, in particular times and about particular topics. ...”



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From: Sarah R. Stein, "Visuality and the Image," Journal of Communication 48:2 (1998), 170-77:


"Forceville ... develops the case for the applicability of metaphor theory to the understanding and experience of visual images. ... For­ceville structures his volume carefully and thorougly, methodically building a theoretical framework within which pictorial metaphors can be analyzed. ... The frontispiece states that Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising will be of interest to advanced undergraduate and graduate students of communication studies, language, and linguistics, a claim I found substantiated by the book's content and design. It is an unusual book within a cultural studies framework in that it is so thoroughly engaged with theory and analysis and yet also includes an empirical research study of the viewers' interpret­ations of images. The 30 print ads analyzed are included, as are the three bill­boards in the experiment discussed at the end. The theory sections build on each other with clarity and are careful to map out the strengths and weaknesses involved in applying a linguistic formula to pictures. Forceville takes great pains as well to reveal the assumptions behind his decision to use static advertisements that feature both pictorial and linguistic components as the medium in which to test the concept of pictorial metaphor. The arguments Forceville uses to evaluate the earlier are instructive in learning critical analysis in general.

            One of the book's flaws was the relative meagerness of some of the interpretations of the ads themselves, almost as if the applicability of the theory took precedence over the insights it might generate. At the same time, Forceville stresses the way that representations in­evitably distort reality as well as the way that metaphors close off ‘rival concep­tualizations.’ His claim that the study of pictorial metaphors can provide theoretical and experimental angles on understanding how those operations take place is well substantiated and worthy of notice. Forceville's book concludes, as do the others [reviewed], with some remarks as to future avenues of visuality to explore. New works in this field will likely build on the theoretical and pragmatic concerns voiced in these four volumes.”



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From: Orly Goldwasser, devoted exclusively to the book, Journal of Pragmatics 31:4 (April 1999), 609-17:


“In a field yearly witnessing dozens of publications, Charles Forceville's Pictorial metaphor in advertising must be considered a noteworthy and welcome -- if not always engros­sing -- attempt to anchor the study of pictorial metaphor within the discipline of verbal metaphor. Its main theoretical claim is that metaphor theory, as summarized and defined by Black (1979) and his followers, need not be limited to verbal metaphor, but may be profitably used as a solid base for the understanding and definition of visual metaphor as well.

            By centering the study around one thoroughly discussed and well defined theory, Forceville makes his ideas accessible even to scholars who are not meta­phor scholars par excellence, an approach which should be fully appreciated in a field often suffering from theoretical eclecticism. Having set up a solid theoretical model, the author is able to enliven our understanding of pictorial advertisement in a systematic way, by bringing various specific examples [sic], the discussion of which forms the liveliest part of the book. It is, perhaps, a pity that this section appears no sooner than Chapter 6, though the need for a firm theoretical introduc­tion is understandable. In the main, the author's approach enables him to present adver­tisement[s] as a legitimate data, comparable with other subjects -- literatu­re, fine arts, cinema -- for his own study of pictorial metaphor. This is important because of the vague, sometimes inferior status advertisement[s] usually acepts as a subject of academic study -- surely, an anachronistic state of affairs in the wake of post-modernism. Overall, the book's main contribution lies in Chapters 2 and 6: Chapter 2 prepares the terminology for the case-studies in Chapter 6. ... The detailed presentation of Black's theory stands in its own right as an introductory layout of Black's terminology and ideas. ... Forceville, however, advances [contra Black] that "there is no essential difference between metaphor and simile" (p.32). Nonetheless, in Chapter 6, he points at "surface difference" in pictorial as well as in linguistic metaphor between metaphor and simile. Some elucidation of this incongruity would have been welcome.

            Given Forceville's generally balanced use of Black's theory, it is a little difficult to understand his erratic and curiously biased attitude towards Kittay's (1987) work on verbal metaphor [summary of my criticism of Kittay] ...

            However, a different aspect of Kittay's book should pose a challenge to a theorist of pictorial metaphor who cho[o]ses to be alert to it. In her discussion of what she describes as a "tension" created within the metaphor between topic and vehicle ... Kittay (1987: 184) observes that “if we want to preserve the tension, we cannot give an account of interaction which neutralizes all tension between vehicle and topic. Unfortunately, this is what appears to happen in Black's account.  ..."

            Whether or not one agrees with her reading of Black, Kittay's linguistic description contradicts metaphorical representation from Ancient Egypt to Sur­realism, and modern advertising. [Goldwasser 1995] ...

            It is surprising, however, that it is only at the very end of his extensive discussion of Black, that the author presents the most important assumption, posited by Richards (1930) [sic] and Black, then invigorated and developed by Lakoff and Johnson (1980), that metaphor is "primarily a matter of thought and action, and only derivatively a matter of language." Surprising, that is, as this seems to me the self-evident precondition for any book on pictorial metaphor.

            [Wollheim's] discussion of artistic painting, at least as Forceville delivers it, seems to be irrelevant to the main line of Foreville's work. Hausman (1989) ... contributes more to Forceville's discussion .... His work ... brings up the question of reversibility of terms in metaphor. Hausman is in favor of reversibility or "multidirectionality", whereas Forceville rightly (to my mind) rejects the idea. ...

            [Chapters 4 & 5, Jakobson, Barthes] ... As to the Jakobsonian "code", the writer claims, rather simplistically, that there is no established "pictorial code" or "pictorial grammar". In thus reasoning, he overlooks the complex, extensive discussions of this subject, carried out by art students and semioticians, from Gombrich (1956, 1982), through Eco (1972), and lately Mitchell (1986), to name but a few. ...

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            … The author sees in relevance theory a possible clue to the tantalizing "mapping" problem. It seems to me, however, that a different school of thought, which views metaphor as a creation of an alternative ad hoc category, "having a prototype structure, being based on a common relational structure, enabling inference from one member of the class to another" (Shen 1995: 25) is on the right path to solving the "mapping" problem, and in any case provides a better solution to it than relevance theory [ref. Shen 1997] ...

            In Chapter 6, Pictorial metaphor in advertisements and billboards, readers who have struggled patiently with complex theoretical issues pertaining to verbal metaphors are rewarded with the enchanted sphere of "imagologies." Here, the pictorial finally takes center-stage. As this chapter and the next one are comprised of detailed discussions of different advertisements, I shall give only a summary of the central issues and questions raised, though this can, in no way, do justice to the (613) author's recherché discussion, which makes extensive use of the tools presented in detail in the previous chapters. ...

            The candle-world metaphor sits well with Turner's (1991: 58) first ap­proximation of the general constraint on verbal metaphor: "It appears to be the case that when we map one image metaphorically onto another, we are constrained not to violate the schematic structure of the target image." The concretisation of metaphors through the pictorial seems to obey this constraint on verbal metaphor. Forceville is less convinced than I am on this issue: "... physical resemblance is by no means a condition sine qua non for pictorial metaphor" (p.145). Yet it seems that the better pictorial metaphors obey this constraint. …

            ... On the whole, Pictorial metaphor in advertising succeeds in making the notions of verbal metaphor available for the analysis of pictorial metaphor. It is a clear, suggestive book, which should be welcomed by scholars of metaphor and the visual arts, by media-oriented researchers, and by all lovers of images."



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From: Patrick A. Cabe, untitled review devoted exclusively to the book, Metaphor and Symbol 14:3 (1999), 229-38:


"Charles Forceville's insightful monograph sketches a potentially productive theory of pictorial metaphor founded on past ideas not previously conjoined. Forceville draws fertile links between [Black, S&W, and Jakobson, ChF]. I found the book quite intriguing; I confess it kept me awake some nights pondering how it might apply to problems beyond those the author chose to highlight. ... Let me note that Forceville's arguments are generally quite clear. ... Forceville finds 'Sperber and Wilson's relevance theroy is completely commensurate with Black's interaction theory of metaphor' (p. 98). A major contribution of Forceville's thinking here is to show this kind of linkage between theories. Nevertheless, Forcevuille notes, because implicatures are often weak, any interpretation of a metaphor is highly likely to be open to argument. ... The array of examples shown [in chapter 6, ChF] generally makes the points Forceville wants to make and allows the reader to see the connections between the theory and actual adver­tisements, within the schema he develops. ... [With reference to the experiment reported in Chapter 7, ChF:] He is at pains to underscore the exploratory nature of his study, and well he might, for it is not methodologically very rigorous. ... Although such responses [from the participants] support some aspects of Forceville's theory of pictorial metaphor, there are enough flaws in the study to preclude firm conclusions being drawn from them. ... On balance, I found Forceville's approach to pictorial metaphor generally persuasive. The area is one that calls for much extended discussion, of course, and this books should be very useful to spark that kind of debate. Although Forceville does a generally good job of answering potential objections to the positions he defends, further thinking and debate will tell whether and how they might have to be modified. Part of the value of Forceville's book is to meld elements from several theoretical domains into a reasonably coherent strategy for understanding metaphor, at least in the delimited context he addresses.

            Forceville's line of argument is essentially completely cognitive. ... Other views of pictorial communication, however, exist, and it would have been interes­ting to see how Forceville might (232) have included that level of analysis. For example, the Gibsonian approach to picture perception (J.J. Gibson, 1966; Hagen, 1986; Kennedy, 1974) proposes that there is congruence in the stimulus informational content of optical arrays from pictures and from scenes and objects in the world. It is difficult to imagine how pictorial metaphors can exist in the absence of this perceptual base: The observer must be able to identify from pictorial displays the objects depicted before any metaphorical implicatures can be derived. That is, some additional grounding in the perceptual basis for the (nominally) metaphorical pictures might have rounded out Forceville's theory. One could argue from Forceville's perspective that pictures are intrinsically metaphoric, in the sense that features of the picture (the secondary subject, in F's terms) map partially, but not completely, onto the features of the objects depicted (the primary subject).

            Extending that view a bit, some interesting aspects of pictorial representation are perhaps cognate with pictorial metaphor. Kennedy (1982), for instance, cited a number of rhetorical tropes that have pictorial counterparts. Forceville cites this work with muted approval, noting that Kennedy's work is "most relevant for [Forceville's] present purposes' (p. 53). One of those tropes is hyperbole, which suggests the pictorial device of caricature [ref. Rhodes 1997] ... The emerging sense one can gain from the work of Kennedy, Rhodes, and now Forceville is that (a) there is a perceptual substrate to understanding pictures and pictorial metaphor, (b) there may be multiple varieties of pictorial tropes, and (c) part of the understanding of both literal and metaphoric pictures depends on congruent or overlapping cognitive structures. Caricatures (according to Rhodes, 1996) rely on exaggeration of (perceptual) distinctive features (per E.J. Gibson); those features in the pictures (borrowing from Forceville) must be mappable to the cognitive environment of the addres­see, intentionally so from the perspective of the communicator. The exaggeration in the caricature underscores its metonymic nature. This coherence of Forceville's views with those of other recent commentators suggests that there is a convergence in the making that may promote better understanding of the perception and cognition of pictorial displays. It is exciting that possibility emerging.

            I found little to argue with very strenuously in Forceville's book an much to ap­preciate. In my view, the work is scholarly, thoughtful, well organized, and quite well written. F often anticipates questions the reader might have and offers responses. to them. ... Some readers may find the back and forth about the merits and demerits of various theoretical positions a little tedious, but they make the point that the theories advocated stand up to criticism reasonably well.

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            The analyses of the example advertisements Forceville offers are generally well worked out, although I felt that in some instances they seemed less coherent than they might have been (233). ... [The BOKMA IS GENEVER IS HOUSE ad illustrates that] the lack of metaphorical, and thus persuasive, effect of that ad for me underscores the utility of contact between the cognitive environment of the communicator (the advertiser) and the addressee (the reader of the ad), as Forceville persistently emphasizes. Lacking overlap between my own cognitive environment and that of the advertiser, this ad was ineffective to me.

            But there is a useful point in that, one I wish Forceville had emphasized: A theory's value lies partly in discriminating between the positive outcomes it predicts or explains (i.e. when it will work) and the negative outcomes it should also predict (i.e., when it will not work). Forceville's theory surely would argue that lack of overlap between cognitive environments will lead to lack of metaphorical outcomes (and indeed of advertising effectiveness). The Bokma ad could have made that point rather nicely for many readers, I think.

            The empirical material in chapter 7 is somewhat disappointing, I'm afraid. It suffers from a lack of methodological rigor, as mentioned previously. But more important, it seems to me that there is a crucial logical flaw in the whole enter­prise. ... It does seem likely that a metaphorical interpretation was intended in these displays. ... But information about he (literal or metaphoric?) intentions of the advertiser is entirely absent in Forceville's study. The effectiveness of the metaphors present in the advertisements studied, I think, simply cannot be discovered on the basis of the responses of the addressee alone, with no information about the intentions of the communicator who created the pictorial metaphor. F acknowledges this gap, saying 'we have no access to intentions against which we could measure participants' responses' (p. 195). This seems like a fairly severe constraint on his attempts to interpret those responses and one that in principle could have been avoided ....

            The use of various media and materials in advertising is quite an interesting question, I think. [Temporal and spatial brevity of ads] ... Now, in the present context, if metaphors are regularly used in advertising (as F demonstrates), then it should be the case that these usages are highly intentional. Indeed, advertisers who elect metaphorical ads must believe that they work as well as, or even better than, some more literal form. That being so, it appears rather unproductive to analyze metaphors in ads -- using pictorial displays, verbal material, or both -- in the absence of knowledge of the intent driving the creation of the metaphor.

            Forceville's empirical effort, then, seems aimed more at discovering metaphors that might be present in advertisements than at recovering metaphors that were included intentionally in those displays. The crucial question, pretty clearly , is how well the intended metaphors were recovered by his observers. That intriguing question remains frustratingly unanswered, particularly in light of Forceville's citation of Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) assertion to the effect that 'the first interpretation hit upon by an addressee that is consistent with the principle of relevance is the one intended by the com­municator.' But there are multiple 'first interpretations'; which in fact did the communicator intend? Some clarification here seems critical to the evaluation of Forceville's relevance theory of pictorial metaphor, because much the value of the theory hinges on these issues of intention, relevance, and consistency. We do not really get a clear sense of what 'consistent with the principle of relevance' denotes, for example. What a priori criterion or criteria might apply? To what degree must the interpretation be consistent? Might different criteria apply in different circumstances? Can relevance (or degree of cognitive overlap) somehow be scaled independently of its effect with respect to displays under test? (If not, one might suspect some circularity in the argument: If relevance exists, the metaphor is picked up; if the metaphor is picked up, relevance exists.)

            In a related fashion, this notion of relevance assumes that the viewer of a putative pictorial metaphor can somehow find, quickly and directly, a connection between overt elements in the display or between elements of the display and other knowledge presumably resident in the observer. But it is very far from clear on what basis this might occur. As Chiappe (1998) pointed out, this kind of "framing" problem is both persistent and unresolved in cognitive psychological approaches to many kinds of comparison and similarity problems (as metaphor and simile surely are). So it is crucial, eventually, to deal with the kinds of 'consistency' elements Forceville cites. If we can find answers to this framing problem, perhaps in ways that evolve from the perspective Forceville elucidates, the ripples may benefit much of cognitive psychology.

            Variability among the responses obtained in Forceville's studies (including the fascinating idiosyncratic connections reported) raises a number of additional questions in the absence of information about the metaphoric intent of the creator of the ad .... Is the extant degree of variability within tolerable limits for the advertiser, for instance? And do the categories of responses include the intended ones to a degree satisfactory to the creator of the advertisements? Still, Forceville's limited results begin to suggest a series of such questions in the concluding chapter of the book. The strong assertion that relevance theory can and should be subject to empirical test (and thus perhaps to falsification) promotes the theory out of philosophy and into scientific psychology.

            Who is this book written for? The title gives some hints. Researchers who are interested in metaphor in general should find the insights in the book useful; I would recommend Forceville's work to them. Workers interested in pictures and the semiotics of pictures (see, e.g., topics discussed in Bouissac, 1998; Forceville's own entry on metaphor is particularly apposite) should be interested, too; again, I would recommend the book to them. Students and practitioners of advertising surely should be interested. Forceville has provided them with a framework .... (The cynic might wonder if we should be grateful to F for giving advertisers better tools!)

            The title of the book, nevertheless, may have been a bit of an unfortunate choice, because those who are interested in the general problem of metaphor may be put off by what could sound like a rather limited application, and those who are interested in pictures may not be interested in either metaphor or advertising. A pity if either should happen -- the book be productive reading for both groups.

            In sum, there is much worth thinking about in this book. Forceville's insights are likely to be debated for some time (the book would make a solid central reading for a graduate seminar, to begin with), but I think his basic stance is pretty sound. The theoretical part withstands a bit more scrutiny, perhaps, than the analytical and empirical parts. It will not surprise me, however, to find that future empirical work cites this book rather frequently.”

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“Expanding cognitive linguistics to pictures: Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising (Routledge 1996).” Summary by the author, Charles Forceville.

More than two decades have passed since the first editions of Andrew Ortony's Metaphor and Thought (1979) and Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By (1980), and metaphorology has practically become a discipline in its own right, as can be gauged from the foundation of the journal Metaphor and Symbol (formerly Metaphor and Symbolic Activity) and from various bibliographies (see Shibles 1971, van Noppen et al. 1985, and van Noppen et al. 1990). Both the sheer quantity of publications (some 10,000 items are listed altogether) and the wide range of disciplines from which work on metaphor originates is impressive. Moreover, the study of metaphor has broadened significantly to include many other aspects pertaining to the relationship between the mind and the mind's perceptible manifestations (for an overview, see Gibbs 1994). But despite Lakoff and Johnson's claim that "metaphor is primarily a matter of thought and action, and only derivatively a matter of language" (1980: 153), reiterated in Lakoff's succinct observation that metaphor is "not a figure of speech, but a mode of thought" (1993: 210), virtually all research concentrates on the links between idealized cognitive models (ICMs) and their linguistic manifestations. But if the claims about cognition and its manifestations are correct, there should also be non-verbal manifestations of metaphor – and perhaps first of all of pictorial metaphor. But although cognitivists do, in passing, mention the possibility of pictorial, or visual, metaphor, there is still very little extended research in this area. The most recentInternational Cognitive Linguistics Conferences (Amsterdam 1997, Stockholm 1999, Santa Barbara 2001, Logroño 2003)) had virtually nothing to offer in terms of the pictorial; but as Bradd Shore emphasizes, "any culturally oriented theory of ICMs must redress this bias [towards linguistic models, ChF] and characterize the full range of sensory modalities employed by cultural models" (1996: 334).

            One of the reasons for the relative scarcity of studies pertaining to pictorial metaphor among cognitivists may well be that it is difficult to find visual representations of the type of ICMs that cognitivists discuss: LIFE IS A JOURNEY; ARGUMENT IS WAR; ACTORS ARE MOVERS; EVENTS ARE MANIPULATORS (see Turner 1996) -- although the former two might well be traceable in medieval art (and see Forceville forthcoming, Journal of Pragmatics). But research on how pictures are understood is still in its infancy, so that it may simply be too early to answer questions as to how ICMs function in visual representations. But just as verbal metaphor has long been studied by focusing on isolated examples, firmly rooted in a specific context, before they (or: many of them) were understood as amenable to ICMs; just so it is a useful start to venture into the realm of the pictorial by reflecting on the question if, and if so how, a picture can contain a metaphor in the first place. That is, at this stage in research on pictures, it will be fruitful to decide whether it makes sense to label something a "pictorial metaphor" and what such a something might look like.

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            In Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising I try to delineate a number of parameters relating to "pictorial metaphor." I argue that metaphor can occur in pictures, more specifically in printed advertisements and billboards, and I propose a theoretical framework within which these pictorial metaphors can be analysed. Subsequently some thirty advertisements and billboards are analysed in the light of this theory, the analyses themselves naturally leading to further subdivisions of the concept "pictorial metaphor." Although media analysts will probably find something of interest both in the theory and in the applications, the most important aim of the study is to make a contribution to a theory of pictorial metaphor. The structure of the book, after the introductory chapter, is as follows.

            Chapter 2 contains a detailed discussion of Max Black's (1962, 1979) interaction theory of verbal metaphor. This theory, enriched by the insights of later (cognitivist) scholars of metaphor, will in slightly adapted form serve as the starting point for the analysis of pictorial metaphors in Chapters 6 and 7. Some elliptical passages in Black's two articles are clarified and expanded on, and Kittay's (1987) objections to the interaction theory are examined at length. This chapter is intended to be of intrinsic interest to students of verbal and cognitive metaphor.

            Chapter 3 evaluates a number of earlier studies which pertain to the concept "pictorial metaphor" (Kennedy 1982, Johns 1984, Durand 1987, Wollheim 1987, Forceville 1988, Hausman 1989, Whittock 1990). A critical survey of these studies, some of which focus on artistic representations while others include non-artistic "texts" in their corpora, highlights some of the theoretical problems attending an attempt to develop a theory of pictorial metaphor. On the basis of the strengths and weaknesses of these previous approaches I explain my choice of advertisements and billboards as suitable corpus material.

            Chapter 4 discusses in what ways context plays a role in the interpretation of advertisements generally, and pictorial metaphors occurring in them specifically. Within a communicative framework adapted from the well-known model by Jakobson (1960), a distinction is made between text-internal and text-external elements of context. On the basis of Roland Barthes' (1964/1986) concept of "anchoring" the former can be further subdivided into pictorial and verbal context. It is argued that an examination of text-internal context does not suffice, however; in addition, text-external factors such as cultural conventions, expectations, and genre-attributions need to be considered as well.

            Although Chapter 4 outlines various aspects outside the advertisement text proper that affect interpretation, two major factors are left out of consideration at this stage: the role played by the communicator of the advertisement message, and its audience, respectively. Chapter 5 delineates how the identities and interests of the originator of the advertising message and its envisaged reader/viewer crucially co-determine its possible interpretations. In an application of the theory of Sperber and Wilson (1986), who claim that the principle of relevance is the key concept governing human communication, it is shown what consequences their approach has for the analysis, first of metaphors, and then of advertisements. Of particular importance are their claim that relevance is always relevance to an individual and the distinction they propose between strongly and weakly communicated aspects of a message. Apart from constituting a vital step in the elaboration of a model of pictorial metaphor, this chapter can also be read independently as an application of Sperber and Wilson's relevance theory beyond the realm of language, namely to messages that are (partly) non-verbal, and mass-medial.

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            Chapter 6, a key chapter of the book, combines Black's interaction theory with the insights of Sperber and Wilson to analyse pictorial phenomena in some thirty advertisements and billboards in terms of pictorial metaphor. On the basis of the various text-internal (verbal and pictorial) contextual levels that can be distinguished, a subdivision is proposed into pictorial metaphors with one pictorially present term (MP1s), pictorial metaphors with two pictorially present terms (MP2s), verbo-pictorial metaphors (VPMs), and pictorial similes (the terminology was partly adapted later on; see Forceville 2002, “Further thoughts on delimiting pictorial metaphor”). While the discussions of the advertisements and billboards are first and foremost intended to substantiate the validity of the concept pictorial metaphor in itself, the analyses hopefully are of independent interest to students of advertising, and of word & image relations more generally.

            Since the advertisements and billboards discussed in Chapter 6 are all interpreted by myself, the analyses – in line with Sperber and Wilson's claim that relevance is always relevance to an individual – necessarily reveal a degree of subjective interpretation. By way of a modest counterbalance, Chapter 7 reports the results of an exploratory experiment testing the responses of some forty people to three IBM billboards all purportedly containing a verbo-pictorial metaphor. Apart from assessing whether the participants are capable of identifying the metaphors as such, the experiment gives some idea of the degree of freedom in interpretation a pictorial metaphor allows. In addition, the results provide evidence that some viewers, when given a chance to do so, are happy to volunteer interpretations that run counter to those in all likelihood intended by the advertiser. This latter finding suggests that there may be a discrepancy between how viewers realize they are supposed to respond to the billboards and how they actually react. In view of the exploratory character of the experiment, the chapter reflects amply on methodological matters.

            Chapter 8, finally, briefly hints at ways in which the insights of the book may give rise to further research into issues concerning pictorial metaphor, word & image relations, advertising, and other pictorial tropes.


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