Promotionsvorhaben Dahlia El Broul
For The Mind to Come: Critical Knowledge Production in Children’s Picture Books
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Nora Sternfeld, Prof. Dr. Martin Krenn
How can children’s picture books intervene in social hierarchies and hegemonic cultural narratives? How to experiment collaboratively with picture book illustration and texts? Even before children attend school, many have already been exposed to particular items: children’s books. So, let’s have a closer look into a very traditional field that forms an important basis for further art education: images and stories told with them. As German literary scholars Iris Kruse and Andrea Sabisch (2013) points out, children’s books are present at the nascent stage in both the language and visual development of children. So, we can assume that children’s books shape some of the first frames of reference for social norms, typically monolingual and dominant-culture centred knowledge. They can be nuanced in their portrayals of human and non-human experiences and construct content within social, economic, cultural, and political experiences. That is, particularly concerning what stories are told, who tells them, and where they are read in a given society. Thus, as British philosopher Gillian Rose (2001:15) specifies, looking (and, I would add, reading) “always takes place in a particular social context that mediates its impact.” This collaborative artistic-scientific research project in the field of illustration and art education combines and investigates aspects of education, representation, participatory action research, and anti-racist activism. This research is situated in critical educational theory contexts, works with historical and analytical research methodologies, and looks for artistic and collaborative perspectives to stretch the edges of disciplined scientific approaches. The artistic/art educational practice takes collaborative writing frameworks as a starting point. This methodology intends to foster more intersectional narratives within this genre structurally. In my approach, an ecology of narratives emerges through qualitative research practices via dialogical methods such as memory-work, collaborative image-making, and by organising workshops for critical image analysis and creative writing. Shared authorship and a more horizontal framework of thinking and making invigorate the project by developing new picture book creation methods.
Dahlia El Broul (*1983 New York City, USA) lives in Helsinki, Finland. For many years she has cemented her creative practice on dialogical methods and a strong focus on multi-positional cultural identities through the lens of intersectional feminism. Her current research lies in the field of children’s picture books and critical pedagogy — at the intersection of theory, education, critique, and imaginings of the possible, to support the social conditions for collective production.