Jimmy Liao and Affect: A Multimodal Study

Authors: Xiaoyang Qi , Roslina Mamat (Universiti Putra Malaysia)
Speakers: Xiaoyang Qi
Strand: Language in Real and Virtual Spaces
Session Type: General Session


Pictorial and visual metaphors have been the subject of much conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) research since the 1990s. The graphic metaphor belongs to one type of multimodal metaphor, which refers to understanding abstract concepts in visual information (Forceville, 1996). A picturebook can be viewed as a distinct kind of visual genre containing various pictorial metaphors. It is also generally acknowledged that picturebooks have educational value for people to tell stories, convey emotions, and stimulate intellectual and aesthetic capacities. As many people undergo loneliness and solitude in the spreading of the Covid-19 virus, picturebook as a social semiotic product could bring people relief, strength and comfort. This research will examine the pictorial metaphor of solitude emotions in Beautiful Solitude, painted by one Chinese picturebook artist Jimmy Liao after he survived from illness leukaemia. This study will use Kovecses’s three-stage analysing frame of emotion metaphor “cause – the existence of emotion – the expression” and visual design grammar as the theoretical framework to analyse the pictorial metaphor of emotions. The results include the overall impacts that many visual metaphors combined to activate in portraying loneliness. Even though the picturebook author, Jimmy, faces pain, sadness, loneliness and fear, the expression stage of pictorial metaphor presents Jimmy’s strong willingness to positively communicate the emotion of loneliness throughout the disease. This study may contribute to pictorial metaphors and comprehend how individuals think when in pain and alone.

Forceville, C. (1996). Pictorial metaphor in advertising. London: Routledge.

Keywords: Emotion, pictorial metaphors, picturebook, solitude, positive solitude