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When Hillary Clinton conceded in 2008 that she didn't quite 'shatter the glass ceiling', and when Rick Perry in 2012 called Mitt Romney a 'vulture capitalist', they used abbreviated metaphorical stories, in which stories about one topic are presented as stories about something entirely different. This book examines a wide range of metaphorical stories, beginning with literary genres such as allegories and fables, then focusing on metaphorical stories in ordinary conversations, political speeches, editorial cartoons, and other communication. Sometimes metaphorical stories are developed in rich detail; in other examples, like 'vulture capitalist', they may merely be referenced or implied. This book argues that close attention to metaphorical stories and story metaphors enriches our understanding and is essential to any theory of communication. The book introduces a theoretical structure, which is developed into a theory of metaphorical stories and then illustrates the theory by applying it to actual discourse.
Recent research has produced evidence that both embodied simulations and abstract lexical processes are involved in language comprehension, with the balance between embodied and lexical processes influenced by the abstractness of the language and the cultural, social, and linguistic context. The role of simulations in processing metaphorical language, however, is subject to continued debate, not least because it is influenced by a variety of factors. In previous work (Ritchie 2017), I have shown that stories are often used as metaphors (metaphorical stories), and metaphors often imply or activate stories (story metaphors). In this chapter I argue that story metaphors have the potential to activate a rich and extended context and induce and shape both lexical elaboration and perceptual simulation. I propose that Context-Limited Simulation Theory (Ritchie 2006) provides a framework which is compatible with the experimental evidence about embodied simulation, and that a focus on story metaphors and the role of stories in metaphor use and comprehension will support our understanding of metaphor as shaped by both cognitive and discourse/social factors.