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Magazine Iconography: Portrayals of Religion on Magazine Cov

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Mimi Perreault

on 27 June 2016

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Transcript of Magazine Iconography: Portrayals of Religion on Magazine Cov

Magazine Iconography: Portrayals of Religion on Magazine Covers
Portrayals of Religion on Magazine Covers
Magazine covers are significant media in their own right (Spiker, 2003).
Covers reflect the identity of the magazines and also the cultural contexts in which they were created (Held, 2005).
Religion has consistently been a popular topic for magazine covers (Scott & Stout, 2006).
Magazine covers have included allusions to Jesus, St. Peter, the Virgin Mary, themes concerning good/evil, and Bible story narratives.
The Study
The Sample:
The American Society of Magazine Editors’ Magazine Cover Contest winners

The Methodology:
Informed by Narrative Theory, we examined the covers using Fantasy Theme Analysis, which applies literary archetypes (similar to those present in religious stories) to narratives.

Depictions of religion (Chen, 2003; Scott & McDonald, 2004; Silk, 1995; Underwood, 2002).
The changing understandings of religion is causing people to think more broadly about religion and on “lived cultures” (Hoover, 2002).
The role of the magazine cover (Cardoso, 2010):
[ … ] an intermediate figure, which is part of the publication, but marks at the same time its opening, asserting itself as a window of contact with the outside. Each cover follows a specific strategy for storing the elements so as to give a consistent, overall reading of the dispositive. (p. 578)
Advertising function
Theoretical framework: Narrative Theory (Schudson, 1988, 2003)
Research Questions
RQ1: How was religion represented visually on the covers?
RQ2: What religious narratives were evident?
RQ3: How might audiences interpret the meanings of the narratives in the context of the topics the magazines addressed?

Summary of Findings
• Religious images address the rise of new technological developments and products (i.e., Apple).
• Female religious icons address contemporary lifestyle topics.
• Religious narratives address current crises as part of meaning-making.

By Joy Jenkins, Mimi Perreault and Greg Perreault
University of Missouri School of Journalism
Fantasy theme analysis/archetypes
Covers viewed for dominant themes
Three main themes identified: The rise of technology, representations of female religious figures, and crisis and community meaning-making

• Reliance on shock value, or subversions of recognizable religious iconography, to attract readers’ attention.
• The image of the breastfeeding virgin Mary was reconceptualized on
magazine to reflect a current discourse about attachment parenting.

The New York Times Magazine
represented a controversial religious group through images of its young female members.

magazine juxtaposed notions of feminine “good” and “evil” through two images of model Kate Moss.
• Women were represented as both mysterious and familiar, sinless and sinful.
Images create a connection to a broader audience using familiar imagery.
Photographs create a connection between religious narratives and current events.
The covers create a place where viewers can contemplate crisis and interpret its collective meaning.

• Religion was used as a tool to increase the salience of (and consumer interest in) technology products.
• The depicted "Divine" nature of Apple devices in particular implies that technology brings with it new expectations and fears.
Religion was used as a device to sell a product to a general audience.
Religion enhanced a topic's salience.
Explicit narratives, implied narratives, and interactive meaning
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