What is it about?

The paper discusses the issue of verbal-visual allegory in an online manga series of 29 four-panel episodes by Tameking. The manga aims to represent selected historical events of modern Afghanistan, and does so by consistently personifying countries as young girls, and portraying historical events in terms of the girls' interactions. Each manga episode is accompanied by a short, textual ‘memo’ describing historical events in a neutral, factual way. In this paper, we (1) propose that the extended personification of Afghanistan and other countries in this manga can be understood in terms of ‘allegory’; (2) sketch and evaluate how the manga part affects the construal of the country’s history; (3) consider some of the consequences of combining the manga part with memo text for the informative and educational value of Afuganisu-tan.

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Why is it important?

It is important to theorize not just visual and multimodal varieties of metaphor, but also of other tropes. "Allegory" can be understood as sustained metaphor, and studying it is thereby a natural next step. Moreover, the analyses shed light on how combinations of visuals and written language convey meaning -- or make such meaning ambiguous when there is a tension between the two.


Whereas a visualization-plus-minimal-text allegory to present historical facts may attract an audience that would not want to spend time and energy on a long written text, there are also drawbacks using this approach. Imposing a narrative structure on often violent events by presenting these latter as the everyday problems of cute schoolgirls trivializes these events. The form chosen for this manga moreover raises questions about the impact of possible tensions between visually and verbally presented information about the same topic.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: From metaphor to allegory, Metaphor and the Social World, November 2017, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/msw.7.2.04cor.
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