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Visual Metaphor and Embodiment in Graphic Illness Narratives$
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Elisabeth El Refaie

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190678173

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190678173.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 May 2021

Unseeing Eyes

Unseeing Eyes

Metaphor in Graphic Illness Narratives about Cancer

(p.118) 4 Unseeing Eyes
Visual Metaphor and Embodiment in Graphic Illness Narratives

Elisabeth El Refaie

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on visual metaphor in graphic illness narratives about cancer, which takes its course inside the body and is beyond the conscious control of the patient. Even when there are external, visible symptoms of the disease, we nevertheless require imaging technologies to see what is occurring beneath the surface of the skin. However, the images produced by these technologies are unfathomable to the untrained eye, which unsettles conventional metaphorical connections between human vision and knowledge. Issues of visibility and invisibility are, inevitably, always at the forefront of artists’ minds when they are creating work in this medium. Taken together, these factors motivate the prevalence in comics about cancer of metaphors that reflect people’s anxieties about internal physical processes, while also often functioning as a form of resistance against the all-powerful “medical gaze.”

Keywords:   cancer, metaphors, imaging technologies, medical gaze, vision, visual perception, comics

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