Reading Differences from Children’s Picture Books: Constructing and De-constructing Images and Texts
By Dr Yuna Nam
Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Yuna Nam
Congratulations to CIRCL PhD student Yuna Nam for passing her viva on 03-07-2020 with her thesis on ‘Reading Differences from Children’s Picture Books: Constructing and De-constructing Images and Texts’. External Examiner: Dr Jessica Medhurst (Beijing Normal University, China) and Internal Examiner Dr Sue Walsh, supervisor Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein.
Abstract of thesis
My thesis questions how pictures are read; it raises questions about what has to be in place for a reading and what has to be in place for something to be seen as such in a text or a picture. It analyses claims from a wide and multidisciplinary array of sources: from children’s literature and art criticism, from literary theory, philosophy and neuroscience in order to think through a series of problems and issues to do with the reading of pictures and the reading of pictures within children’s picture books specifically.
Because reading difference is a key approach and a recurring issue, I will read Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition in order to think through the relationship between these two underpinning aspects of reading and go on to draw on Jacques Derrida’s Memoirs of the Blind; and this is because I read this text as constituting ‘drawing’ as the repetition of differences. These texts are read in relation to Anthony Browne’s picture book, One Gorilla, a text that as a counting book, is necessarily fundamentally engaged in both repetition and the articulation of difference.
This thesis is also one that engages with extant critical notions about reading, the ‘child reader’, and notions of reader competence. It subjects these ideas to scrutiny in order to think through what is at stake in the claims about the putative educational intention or purpose of children’s literature that these notions lead to; they will be read in relation to Aliki’s My Five Senses and Paul Shower’s picture book, Use Your Brain.
Finally, this thesis is about the impossibility of interpretative mastery. Indeed, this thesis unpicks many apparent attempts at mastery, including its own, acknowledging in the end the impossibility of arriving at an interpretation without remainder.
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