Picture books, critical literacy and place

Margaret Zeegers wrote an article some time ago in which she analysed certain Australian picture books for the way they hid or exposed indigenous landrights and indigenous histories. Her interest was based on the observation that many schools are on indigenous land, but fail to acknowledge that history in their buildings or public image.

In itself, this is an interesting discussion and worth considering, but some of her explanations of certain literary theories are also quite easy to read:

The implied reader….

“The reader-text relationship is one that Rosenblatt (1976) describes as a ‘unique transaction’, in that, ‘[a] novel or a poem or a play remains merely ink spots on paper until a reader transforms the into a set of meaningful symbols’ (p.25) that touch the emotions and stimulate the imagination.” (p.141)

“Iser’s (1974) work provides the concept of the ‘implied reader’ to consider. The (ideal) implied reader does not just take up a passive position in relation to what is being read. This reader actively engages with the text to make meaning from it, and that meaning may not at all be what the author intended. The reader is fundamental to the text, for it is the reader who makes meaning from it. That is not to say that the author of a text does not guide the reader towards the intended meaning, but it is the reader who takes the path or not, fills in gaps in the text, actively visualises the scenes and situations, and essentially enters a dialogue with the text as it is read. The reader accepts or rejects subject positions and this in itself indicates just how the unwritten parts of the text, or what exists in what is not said, is also negotiated by the reader.” (p.141)


“Discourses are not just verbal or written texts, but social practices that constitute and are constituting of a social self and a social reality (Foucault 1974). Discourses constrain the possibilities of thought, keeping the unthinkable at bay so that certain discourses are privileged over others by virtue of their privileged discourses, and the network of conditions that maintain their position within fields of knowledge. Marginalisation can be understood as being a result of particular constructions of subjectivities through discursive practices which make invisible certain subjects and subject positions and what is more, they normalise that invisibility.” (p.138)

“Discursive practice is, as Foucault (1974) defines it, ‘a body of anonymous historical rules, always determined in the time and space that have defined a given period, and for a given social, economic, geographical, or linguistic area, the conditions of operation of the communicative function’ (p.117).” (p.141)

Ref: Margaret Zeegers (2006) Cultural Explorations of Time and Space: Indigenous Australian Artists-in Residence, Conventional Narratives and Children’s Text Creation. Papers 16(2), pp.138-144
NOTE also referred to: Barthes, R (1988) The death of the author in D Lodge (ed) Modern criticism and theory. New York, Longman pp.187-172
Foucault, M (1973 Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London, Penguin
Foucault, M (1974) The Archeology of Knowledge. London, Tavistock
Foucault, M (1977) What is an Author? In DF Bouchard (ed) Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, pp113-138
Foucault, M (1980a) The History of Sexuality Vol. I: An Introduction. New York, Vintage.
Foucault, M (1980b) Prison Talk, In C Gordon (ed) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 New York, Pantheon, pp37-54
Iser, W (1974) The implied reader: Patterns of communication to prose fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore and London. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Johnstone, RR (2001) ‘Picturebooks. The third space’ in G Winch, RR Johnston, M Holliday, L Ljungdahl & P March (eds) Literacy: REading, writing, and children’s literature. South Melbourne, Oxford University Pres, pp.400-413
Pennell, V (1999) ‘Advocating for information literacy’ in H James & K Bonanno (eds) The information literate school community: Best Practice Wagga Wagga, NSW, Centre for Information Studies, Charles Stuart University, pp.189-203
Saxby, M (1998) Offered to children: A history of Australian children’s literature 1841-1941 Sydney, Scholastic.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Images of Parent Child and Expert, Making sense of Picture Books, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Mono- Bi- and Multi-culturalism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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