Friday, 23 September 2011

What is a book without words, Alice thought

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.

1 comment:

Cornelia said...

It's the same thing with quotes: People often fling them into your face (often on PowerPoint slides) and expect you to make sense of them while they continue talking and don't actually mould them into argumentative ammunition. I want to *work* with literary texts and picturebooks, not just juggle with them! Hopefully you enjoyed the conference nonetheless.