Tall enough? : an illustrator’s visual inquiry into the production and consumption of isiXhosa picture books in South Africa

Morris, Hannah (2007-03)

Thesis (Mphil (Visual Arts. Illustration))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


This thesis is a visual, sociolinguistic and cultural inquiry into the role of isiXhosa picture books in contemporary South Africa. From the standpoint of an illustrator, I examine several of these works arising out of a history that alienated many isiXhosa readers and writers from their language. I examine factors that influence the design, content and very notions of reading itself through the multiple languages offered by the picture book format. I argue that these books occupy a problematic space where production and consumption are affixed to paradigms of economics, language and literacy incongruent with the lives of many isiXhosa-speaking readers. My overall conclusion is that literacy and visual literacy are essential to developing an authentic 'reading culture'. Fostering a meaningful relationship with printed words and images is critical to both the emerging reader and the emerging illustrator. In producing illustrations for an isiXhosa narrative, I consider the shape of my own visual literacy through mediations with drawing and writing, relating my activities to those of a child learning to distinguish between pictures and words. The cross-over space where image/text distinctions blur potentially invites new narrative expressions. The picture book is a suitable format for expanding notions of vision and literacy, 'subverting' paradigms and revealing the richness of contemporary African tales. I rest my fundamental premise on an insistence for an increase of accessible, quality picture books in African languages that stimulate the artistic and intellectual development of all readers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2151
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