Reading between the lines: Levels of figurative language in texts and their impact

Reading between the lines

Kimberley Pager-McClymont (University of Huddersfield, UK) 

From 2 to 50 participants

Contact the organizer  here.

“Emotions are the core of Literature. Every character, every story written has a purpose: to create a reaction” (Brown: 1962, p.122). Communicating emotion in a way that conveys universal understanding is a challenge: do we all feel the same spectrum of emotions? This is why figurative language is overly used in literature, as it allows authors to convey emotions in a clear, objective way.

“Verbal narration [...] draws on figurative language, particularly metaphors. Often on the page what is internal to a character comes out in metaphorical language” (Abbott: 2008, p. 118). Figurative language can take shape in varied ways and has a multitude of usage, all with different impacts. The term “metaphor” is often used as a general term to refer broadly to figurative language and other techniques. All figurative language techniques have a similar purpose: to convey meaning through visualisation. Yet not all figurative language techniques are created equal to fulfil this purpose, and different techniques can be extremely specific, such as personification or anthropomorphism. Despite this fact, most imagery techniques are defined in similar terms, despite their varied outcome.

With this workshop, participants will sharpen their knowledge of specific imagery techniques, particularly their impact on emotion communication and characterisation. The workshop will be sectioned into different activities:

  • Introduction and key concepts presented with post-it games (20min).
  • Textual example 1: General analysis of a text to discuss the theory presented (30min).
  • Textual example 2: Pair work – participants A will be given the beginning of a story and participants B will be given the end. They will analyse the figurative language used and discuss how it impacts the plot (30min).
  • Drawing game: A text will be read to the participants who will be asked to draw what they hear (20min).
  • Conclusion and general discussion of the workshop (20min).

About the organizer:

Kimberley Pager-McClymont is a third-year PhD candidate in Linguistics (Stylistics) at the University of Huddersfield and a secondary school English teacher. She focuses on the impact of figurative language in texts, particularly how it impacts communicating emotions in narratives and how it contributes to characterisation overall. Her PhD thesis is centred around pathetic fallacy, a specific type of metaphor without a linguistics model. Read more about Kimberly Pager-McClymont here.



Abbott, H. P. (2008). The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, C. (1962) ‘Towards a Definition of Romanticism’, in Burnshaw, Stanley (ed.), Varieties of Literary Experience, New York: New York University Press.

Culpeper, J. (2001). Language and characterisation: People in plays and other texts. Harlow: Longman.

Kövecses, Z. (2002). Metaphor: A practical introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lodge, D. (1992). The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts. London: Penguin.

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