Depending on the speaker (children’s author, literary critic, art historian, advertising designer, painter) and the venue (bookstore, literature conference, gallery, marketing meeting), the term “image” implies an array of connotations, purposes, and audiences (Mitchell 1986). In the hybrid contexts of the twenty-first century—where visual culture, visual studies, and visual literacy are related but contested terms—“image” crosses disciplinary boundaries and characterizes multimodal activities in classrooms and communication. For children’s literature, an interdisciplinary field drawing upon many scholarly discourses, pedagogical approaches, and modes of creative expression, “image” is a complex and provisional term, always at play and in flux.

Appropriately, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) variously defines “image” in terms of the likeness and the statue, the “mental representation due to any of the senses,” and the phantom and the apparition, indicating an irreconcilable tension between concrete and abstract. While the earliest meaning of the word, according to Raymond Williams …

This essay may be found on page 116 of the printed volume.

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