A multimodal approach to children’s picturebooks focuses on how images and words (and their interactions) collaboratively make meaning. Narrative theory enriches picturebook studies by demonstrating how paratextual elements (book cover, author’s note, afterword, etc.) complement the body text. Drawing on Gérard Genette’s (1997) distinction of “peritext” and “epitext” and Nina Nørgaard’s (2018) multimodal stylistics of the novel, this talk treats another multimodal dimension of “quasi-textual” elements or features (such as typography, layout, page-turn, gutter, blank space, paper quality, etc.) that undergird the picturebook and enhance the reader’s engagement with the story. It concludes that a full understanding of picturebooks needs to take these quasi-textual aspects into account.
Zheng Ren is a Visiting Graduate Student at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. candidate at Tsinghua University. Her research interests are multimodal stylistics and cognitive poetics of children’s picturebooks. She is a co-convener of 2023-2024 IHC Global Childhood Ecologies Research Focus Group and a member on the organizing team of the 26th International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL) Congress 2023.