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Looking at picturebook covers multimodally: the case of two-mum and two-dad picturebooks

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date11/2013
JournalVisual Communication
Journal number4
Volume12
Number of pages24
Pages473-496
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Picturebooks featuring gay parents, although growing in number, remain underexplored. In this paper we look at the covers of four such picturebooks, in particular at the representation of the co-parents and the multimodal workings of image and text. This study is timely in that the image-text relationship is a contested one. Drawing on the notions of modal affordance and epistemological commitment and the Hallidayan functional grammar category of enhancement, we use Theo van Leeuwen’s Social Actors frameworks (2008, 1996, 1995), in particular the Visual Representation frameworks, to show that image and text are not commensurate in the meanings they communicate. Further, rather than one mode being merely supportive of the other, image and text, here, are mutually enhancing. In these picturebooks, gay identities can – and indeed need to - be read through an appreciation of this mutual enhancement, rather than through image or text (title) alone or in parallel.