In conference sessions today, I learned about wordless picturebooks, almost wordless picturebooks and quasi-wordless picturebooks.
I am at a conference on picturebooks, so I am not surprised that people show tons of pictures. Some try to show three hundred pictures in thirty minutes. It's a relief to hear a paper not accompanied by a single image. A pictureless paper. A paper containing words. As a compromise, an almost pictureless paper, with plenty of good, solid words.
I find it a bit of a problem with picturebook conferences. Of course a picture says more than a thousand words, but I am not sure that showing three hundred pictures can substitute for well-posed scholarly argument. At a conference on musicology, would people play music and let it speak for itself? Or at a film conference, show a movie? Maybe that's exactly what they do. I don't know how to deal with it. We are all passionate about our material and eager to share our favourites and new discoveries with our colleagues. But again, had it been a poetry conference, would any of us simply recite poems? (as a matter of fact, yes, some of us would).
I am fascinated by the scores of images I've seen these days, but as I return to my room and try to take a few notes for future contemplation I cannot help feeling that I have been to a huge exhibition with brief catalogue entries. It is very tempting to hide behind pictures, and I am sure I am doing it myself.