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Postmodern Picture Books and Street Art: Theorizing Visual R
Transcript of Postmodern Picture Books and Street Art: Theorizing Visual R
Theorizing Visual Response Among College Students
(With Julia Carleton ‘15 and Asif Zaarur ‘17, Swarthmore College, and Nell Bang-Jensen, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, PA)
“The digital age calls for rethinking literacy both on and off line.” (Dresang, 2008, p. 51)
Can young adults, in their reading and responding to street art, benefit from the lenses that have been developed around and radical change texts for children?
If so, how do these young adult students incorporate reader response theories and critical theory in understanding street art and their own responses?
Responses to the "reading" of street art have been understudied, yet they could yield insights into how people read visually-rich public texts, as well as shed light on what frames they draw upon to make sense of such common texts.
Course: "Literacies and Social Identities"
Students read a postmodern picturebook (PMPB) and recorded their responses
Students read Banksy's "Wall and Piece" (2005)
Radical change texts (Dresang, 2008) whose main audience is children
Provide interactivity, connectivity, accessibility and alterability (Dresang, 2008)
Potential to "Develop readers' abilities to critically analyze, construct, and deconstruct an array of texts and representational forms" (Pantaleo, 2007)
Street art is "visually dominant" or has "blended structures" (Serafini, 2014, p. 17)
"[Street artists] went for diverse styles, injected a little criticism, a little sarcasm, a little humor. They were the first postmodern graffiti writers, taking a little from every era to form a pastiche that was as potent as the expression was in the old days.” (Powers, 1999, p. 70)
Why PMPB and SA?
PMPB are known for their emphasis on pastiche, parody, irony, playfulness, bricolage, and the juxtaposition of words and images (Dresang, 2008, p. 44)
Everyday street images have much in common with PMPB in their wit, irony, challenge to authority, and potential for over-writing and hypertext
Goldstone claims that postmodern texts lead to co-authorship and a reader’s questioning of “what is real” (Goldstone, 2004, p. 197)
Words and images in the digital age can provide platforms for the construction of life-worlds and identities (Gee, 2007)
Students read in a new way, and also talked about reading in a new way
Through explicit framing, young adults can develop repertoires of strategies for understanding visual texts
Everyday texts, and responses to them, can and should be valued in academic settings
Lingering Thoughts and Questions
What can we make of the "Passerby Reader"?
How did classroom context and task shape student papers?
To what degree should we be focusing on visual literacies in college classrooms?
What visual theories and frames could be useful for this type of work?
If you’ve ever walked down the street, seen a name, and wondered what that marking meant, I’ll tell you: It means somebody is telling you a story about who they are and what they are prepared to do to make you aware of it. Every time a name is written, a story gets told. It’s a short story: “I was here.” Who is telling it and where they are telling it will determine how the story ends. Some stories will be adventures, some tragedies, and some courtroom depositions. But every single one has a star, a stage, and an audience, and that’s all a growing youth needs to have fun. (Powers, 1999, p. 6)
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Banksy (2005). Wall and piece. London: Century Random House.
Buildmore. (2013). Lecture on street art. Literacies and Social Identities class, Swarthmore College, November 22, 2013.
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Dresang, E. T. (2008). Radical change theory, postmodernism, and contemporary picturebooks. In L. R. Sipe & S. Pantaleo, (Eds.) Postmodern picturebooks: Play, parody, and self-referentiality (41-54). New York: Routledge.
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Goldstone, B. P. (2008). The paradox of space in postmodern picturebooks. In L. R. Sipe & S. Pantaleo, (Eds.) Postmodern picturebooks: Play, parody, and self-referentiality (117-129). New York: Routledge.
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Pantaleo, S. (2007). “Everything comes from seeing things”: Narrative and illustrative play on Black and White. Children’s Literature in Education, 38, 45 – 58.
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Street Art Cited
Banksy. (2004). Balloon Girl. London http://www.witf.org/your_photos/assets_c/2013/03/balloongirl-thumb-1600x1200-5948.jpg
Banksy. (2006). Celebrating the launch of the graffiti removal hotline. London http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lpmbi4UE8B1qiu9iz.jpg
Banksy. (2010). Follow Your Dreams. Chinatown area of Boston http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2013/052/c/5/banksy__follow_your_dreams_by_lar888-d5vpsjd.jpg
Banksy. (2004). Mona Lisa. Louvre, Paris. http://cache.desktopnexus.com/thumbnails/610371-bigthumbnail.jpg
Banksy. (2005). Palestine. Palestine http://www.briansewell.com/images/banksy-beachboys.jpg
Banksy. (2004). Napalm. Unknown Location. http://jamaispasdutoutrien.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/nape3.jpg
Banksy. Unknown Date and Location. Sick of Love. http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc8bbb4RSi1rerguxo1_500.jpg
Troy Lovegates AKA Other and Labrona. (2012). Untitled. Haverford College. http://blog.vandalog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/OtherLabrona2-L.jpg
Poster Boy. Unknown Date and Location. Are we dead yet? http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/brooklyn-street-art-poster-boy-jaime-rojo-02-13-web-6.jpg
Powers, S. (2010). Love Letter. West Philadelphia http://payload.cargocollective.com/1/0/633/61700/steve-powers_prepay-is-on_1000.jpg
Unknown Artist. Unknown Date. Shanghai, China http://www.streetartutopia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Street-Art-by-Vhils-iIn-Shanghai-China-1.jpg
Powers, S. (Unknown Date). New York City http://assets.coolhunting.com/coolhunting/mt_asset_cache/culture/assets/images/youandmepowers.jpg
Postmodern Picturebooks used in study
Banyai, I. (1995). Zoom. New York: Puffin Books.
Browne, A. (2001). Voices in the Park. London: DK Publishing.
Crews, Donald. (1996). Shortcut. New York, NY: New York: Greenwillow Books.
Gravett, Emily. (2006). Wolves. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Macaulay, D. (1990). Black and White. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company
Analyze and compare responses to PMPB and street art
(Powers, You and Me)
Students made meaning by applying PMPB and response theories to street art
Students drew upon a new vocabulary to talk about meaning-making
Students deepened their understanding of response theory
How did students do this?
Students recognized that interpretations are multiple
Students acknowledged the role context plays in shaping interpretations. The "passerby reader" concept emerged.
Students considered authorial intent
Students pulled less from critical theory than expected, but demonstrated meta-awareness of interpretations
Image by Shantanu Jain and Asif Zaarur, adapted from Anthony Browne's cover art