Dr Lisa El Refaie

Dr Lisa El Refaie

Senior Lecturer

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 (0)29 2087 6338
3.61, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Media commentator

My main teaching and research interests are in visual and multimodal forms of communication, with a particular focus on metaphor.

I am the author of Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures (2012), and I am currently writing my second research monograph, on visual metaphors in book-length comics about the experience of physical or mental illness.

Since 2012 I have been working with WhizzKids United, an international NGO based in South Africa, using comics drawing workshops to encourage teenagers to express their thoughts and feelings about HIV and Ebola, and to share important health messages with their peers. The resulting booklets can be viewed and downloaded here.

I am also involved with a Welsh Crucible-funded pilot study (led by Sofia Gameiro at the Cardiff School of Psychology), which explores the use of drawing workshops as a way of investigating and disseminating findings about the infertility experiences of Black and ethnic minority women in Wales.

I am part of the Centre for Language and Communication Research.

Undergraduate: Introduction to Human Communication (SE1107), Visual Communication (SE1373), The Graphic Memoir (SE1409)

Postgraduate: Multimodality (SET010)

I also regularly supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations on topics relating to my teaching and research expertise.

Apart from my current research interests outlined in the Overview section, I have also in the past been involved in a number of other projects:

From 2005 to 2007, I led a British Academy funded research project that explored young British people's interpretations of newspaper cartoons, Editorial Cartoons and Geopolitical Perceptions (in collaboration with the Human Geographer Kathrin Hörschelmann from Durham University).

I am originally from Vienna, where I studied Media and Journalism and worked for several newspapers and news agencies. This inspired some of my earliest research projects, including on Austrian press politics in the interwar period (1936-1938), media representations of the controversial contemporary Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek, and verbal and visual metaphors in Austrian press reports about asylum seekers.

Postgraduate students

I am particularly interested in supervising doctoral research in the following areas:

Visual and multimodal semiotics, with a particular focus on metaphor
(Alternative) comics and graphic novels
Newspaper/editorial cartoons
Health communication

I am currently supervising a PhD student who is examining the media orchestration of charitable giving and another who is analysing book inscriptions in Edwardian England (co-supervised with Prof Bill Bell). Previously, I have (co-)supervised work on the semiotics of sound in film; private and public commemorations of war; and the framing of risk in relation to climate change in British television news. I have also acted as the external examiner for two PhDs on editorial cartoons, and three PhDs on autobiographical comics.

If you are interested in pursuing postgraduate research in my areas of expertise, please contact me directly.


On the Ebola comics project with WhizzKids United:
BBC News [web], 12/11/2014
Wales Online [web], 14/11/2014
The Independent, 13/11/2014, p. 13 and online
BBC Radio Wales’ ‘Good Evening Wales’, broadcast 12/11/2014
Western Mail, 13/11/2014, Education Section, p. 11.

2-part interview for the Cardiff Book History Blog on the genre of graphic memoirs and my work with WhizzKids United (2/2/2014 and 9/2/2014)

Areas of expertise