Today i had my first tutorial for the Dissertation Essay, this was in order to inform my tutor of my ideas and ask advice on the validity of the ideas and for tips on how to improve my academic writing. This tutorial proved very helpful and i emerged from it with a clearer head on my ideas and what i would like to achieve with this essay. This essay is primarily a research paper to inform our Final Major Project and i think i have chosen a topic that i am passionate enough about to inform my practice as an illustrator. I have been disgruntled over the years due to the representation of Gender in children’s books, this has been fueled by the acknowledgement that my niece comes home from school with books clearly designed for girls, and these are the books she is interested in that denote all female characters as princesses or magical creatures and male characters are masculine strong creatures that become heroes, and although this is not true of all books i find it distressing that boys are discouraged to be sensitive in characters, whilst girls are expected to be feminine and gentle. I do not dislike these stories, because they like all stories have a place in the world, what i crave is more variety in children’s books, books about female heroes and male heroes working together equally, books to encourage girls to be strong and ambitious, and books that allow boys to not feel embarrassed for being interested in roles that are deemed feminine.
Below are some potential questions i have been thinking of exploring for my essay, some are not related to this topic and are just ideas i would like to explore further, though i am most passionate about the topic of gender representation:
Dissertation POA: preliminary question’s-
Have children’s books published in the UK shown less gender stereotyping that childrens books published in the US in the last decade, if so, why?
What can illustrators do to improve on gender stereotyping in children’s picture books?
How can illustration in children’s books affect the issue of gender stereotyping and children’s views on feminism?
Have children’s books published since the McCabe study in 2011 shown a more equal representation of gender equality through illustration?
How do illustrators tackle the issue of gender equality in children’s books, and can any more be done to assist in solving the issue?
Has the 2011 Mccabe Study on Gender Stereotyping in 20th century children’s books had an effect on how illustrators represent characters?
Can illustrators use colour as a way of gender neutralising children’s picture books?
Has the traditional “flat print” book lost its appeal? Can books with 3D elements help stop the replacement of reading first hand with technology?
My tutor said this was a rich topic and there was plenty to say about it, so this gave me more confidence. But what my question really is for the essay is:
What is the role of the illustrator in gender representation for children’s books? What can an illustrator do to equalize the sexes in children’s books, if anything?
Rachel recommended a book to help me form the critical framework for this essay, to inform me more on modern feminism to enable me to make informed decisions about children’s books. This book is “Living Dolls” by Natasha Walter, i have ordered it in and will use its information to help me form educated and analytic opinions 🙂 She also recommended an article in the illustration journal “Varoom” about this topic, so the topic is clearly current and important in modern society and is an issue that needs addressing. So i am happy to expand upon it and address it with this article, so that i can use it within my FMP to use my practice to help challenge gender stereotyping ideas in my work 🙂
Pearl Power – I love Mel
this is a recently published childrens picture book about a feisty young girl striving for gender equality! an excellent break through in the issue of feminism in children’s books! and i think the colour scheme really takes away from the stereotypical “pink for girls, blue for boys” and makes it more gender neutral.
I will now begin more in depth research on this issue and the illustrators role in gender representation 🙂