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The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales A Postmodern Text.

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Presentation on theme: "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales A Postmodern Text."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales A Postmodern Text

2 What is Postmodern Children’s Literature? Theorists and scholars of children’s literature suggest that postmodern children’s literature is a literary mode with such common features as: narrative discontinuity, indeterminacy, fragmentation, decanonization, irony, self- consciousness, joy, pastiche, performance, and interactivity (Pantaleo and Sipe 5). In Literary theory, postmodernism is a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, and language (Lyon 21). Postmodernity laughs at the notion that there is a “truth” or “true essence” to the world as we know it; instead, the universe is a chaotic place that questions conventions and meanings (Bruss 2008).

3 What is Postmodern Children’s Literature? Postmodernism often utilizes ironic self-reference, the absurd, and “the other”, as well as the combination of high and low culture (Bruss 2008). The author function is under siege: the author’s position is not clear, which clouds the readers’ understanding of the text. For example, in the postmodern children’s text, meta-narratives and unreliable narrators are introduced (Pantaleo and Sipe 79). Postmodernism asks neither concrete questions, nor provides clear-cut answers. Instead, the postmodern text requires the reader to look beyond the text, to investigate the questions we are incapable of answering (Lyon 22).

4 Postmodern Picture Books Have gained increasing importance in the field, requiring significant adjustments in approach from writers, readers, and scholars (Anstey 444). Include an immersion of the postmodern text, while enacting the moves and structures of the postmodern mode (Anstey 445). “Provide the most accessible examples of postmodern eclecticism: the breaking of boundaries, the abandonment of linear chronology, the emphasis on the construction of texts, and the intermingling of parodying genres” (Pantaleo and Sipe 3).

5 Postmodern Picture Books Are meant to be read “differently”, because the author and illustrator consciously employ a range of devices that are designed to interrupt reader expectation and produce multiple meanings and readings of the book (Anstey 446). Provide flexibility as “language as an art” (Nodleman 132). “Pictures are inherently different from words, and communicate different sorts of information in different ways” (Nodleman 132). Appeal to a much wider audience, level of sophistication, and range of reading abilities than the traditional picture book (McGavran 90).

6 Characteristics of Postmodern Picture Books The postmodern view of inquiry is politically and socially centered on de-centering; its foundation is the notion of the de-centered self (Constas 38). Postmodern picture books blur the distinctions between popular and “high” culture ( Pantaleo and Sipe 3). There is a subversion of literary traditions and conventions, which undermine the distinction between the story and the outside “real” world ( Pantaleo and Sipe 3).

7 Characteristics of Postmodern Picture Books Intertextuality is made explicit and often takes the form of pastiche, allowing for many texts and sources to blend together (Pantaleo and Sipe 3). The postmodern picture book has a multiplicity of meanings, so that there are multiple pathways through the narrative and unresolved, open-ended endings (Pantaleo and Sipe 3). Self-reference is used to allow readers to have a “vicarious, lived-through experience”, offering a metafictive stance by drawing attention to “the text as a text”, rather than a secondary world (Pantaleo and Sipe 3).

8 Technological Advances of the Postmodern Picture Book Postmodern picture books are geared to reflect the multi- tasking world of the twenty-first century child (Anstey 446). Internet books cater to different audiences, rather than one homogeneous audience (Anstey 446). Multimedia systems facilitate global marketing to children worldwide, who become the consumers of the commercial system (Anstey 446).

9 Technological Advances of the Postmodern Picture Book The changing of technology, societal, and cultural norms have brought the picture book into a new century and a postmodern era (Pantaleo and Sipe 19). “Recently, literacy educators have coined the term “multiliteracies” to focus on the ways in which literacy education will need to change in order to address the social diversity, technology, and globalization of our changing world” (Anstey 446).

10 Postmodern Picture Books: Changing The Way We Read The term literacy is no longer appropriate, because it focuses on language alone (Anstey 446). Multiliteracies focus on the many modes of representation and forms of text that have been made available through multimedia and technological change (Anstey 447). – Being multiliterate requires not only the mastery of communication, but an ability to critically analyze, deconstruct, and reconstruct a range of texts and other representational forms (Anstey 447).

11 The Artist and The Author In postmodern picture books, the neat, clear distinctions between words and visual images often break down (Pantaleo and Sipe 38). Artists tend to resist the idea of labels and movements, which is exactly what the postmodern picture book does (Pantaleo and Sipe 29). Learning to draw means learning to see; postmodern picture books demonstrate a visual literacy (Pantaleo and Sipe 36). Due to their “intermedial nature” and aesthetic value, picture books have the strong inclination to be playful (Pantaleo and Sipe 55).

12 The Artist and The Author “The layout of a picture book can contribute substantially to the overall meaning of the narrative, as can the size and format of the book (Pantaleo and Sipe 59). – “Devices such as impossible space and multiple visual narratives are among picture books’ unique features, and wordless picture books allow for postmodern experimentation” (Pantaleo and Sipe 59). – The postmodern picture book is an inherent element that allows for the distortion of a work of art (Pantaleo and Sipe 59).

13 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales: A Postmodern Picture Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a “postmodern reflection on the picture book as an artifact and the fairy tale as a genre” (Webb 157). “Scieszka and Smith disrupt expectations of the reader through the self-reflexive narrative structure and visual style of The Stinky Cheese Man” (Webb 157). The reader is constantly active as the “maker of meaning” throughout this text. The implied reader is required to draw upon knowledge of books, narrative structure and fairy tales, in order to construct meaning in the gaps between traditional forms in Scieszka and Smith’s postmodern text” (Webb 157).

14 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales: A Postmodern Picture Book Scieszka and Smith disrupt the conventions of the picture book by “electing to introduce the reader to the dialogic nature of the work through the use of striking typeface”, discussion between narrator and reader, and “physicality of the text” (Webb 158). The conversation between characters, narrator, and reader cause the reader to pause before each turn of the page, adding to the “comic power” of this piece (Webb 160). “The metafictive process of reading involved in The Stinky Cheese Man departs from the conventions of fairy tale, that is the ‘realism’ of the form of the genre, and foregrounds the authors and the reader in inventing and receiving the fiction. The narratives in The Stinky Cheese Man are ironically positioned in realism rather than fantasy. What the implied reader discovers by their absence are the hidden conventions of the fairy tale and narrative construction” (Webb 161).

15 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales: A Postmodern Picture Book “The characters are unreliable, because they refuse to appear when and where they should” (Webb 163). Jack (the narrator) talks to the audience, “giving them instructions about what to do and what not to do”. Jack “engages readers in a multilayered skirmish, complete with nonlinear, pasted-on word- pictures that set the fairy tale elements askew and require a high level of cognitive involvement from the reader” (Pantaleo and Sipe 47). “There is no way to read [The Stinky Cheese Man] into neatness or linearity. It is designed to be read as mayhem and uproar and nobody packs the building blocks of story tidily back into their case at the end of the book. Fragments of story remain hurled in all directions and the ensuing chaos is one source of the pleasure of this book” (Pantaleo and Sipe 114).

16 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Devices consciously employed by the author and illustrator in a postmodern picture book has been termed “metafictive” (Anstey 446). The metafictive devices found in the development of different relationships between the written and illustrative text is an important aspect of the postmodern picture book (Anstey 446).

17 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Using Michele Anstey’s explanation of postmodern metafictive devices as a basis for understanding, we can interpret the postmodern aspects of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales: – Nontraditional ways of using plot, character and setting, which challenge the reader’s expectations and require different ways of reading and viewing (447). Stinky Cheese Man – Little Red Running Shorts

18 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Unusual uses of the narrator’s voice to position the reader to read the book in particular ways and through a particular character’s eyes (447). Stinky Cheese Man – “The Almost Ending” – Pg 59 – Indeterminacy in written or illustrative text, plot, character, or setting, to construct some of the text and meanings (447). Stinky Cheese Man – Many of the stories starting with “Once Upon a Time” and ending with “The End”.

19 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – A pastiche of illustrative styles, which require the reader to employ a range of knowledge to read (447). Bricolage – The Princess and the Bowling Ball – New and unusual design and layout, which challenge a reader’s perception of how to read a book (447). Stinky Cheese Man – Table of Contents

20 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Contesting discourses (between illustrative and written text), which require the reader to consider alternate readings and meaning (447). Stinky Cheese Man - The Little Red Hen’s interjection – Pg 21 – Illustrating the book at a product to call attention to commercialism (447). Stinky Cheese Man – ISBN

21 Postmodern Devices Found in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Intertextuality, which requires the reader to use background knowledge in order to access the available meanings (447). Stinky Cheese Man – Giant Story – The availability of multiple readings and meanings for a variety of audiences (447). Stinky Cheese Man – Chicken Licken

22 The Bigger Picture: A Personal Interpretation of The Stinky Cheese Man The first edition of The Stinky Cheese Man was published by Viking Juvenile Press on October 1, – It took Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith over a year to put The Stinky Cheese Man together as a complete text. Although an exact time frame is not given, we can assume that the book was started in early The Gulf War started on August 2, 1990 and ended on February 28 th, 1991.

23 The Bigger Picture: A Personal Interpretation of The Stinky Cheese Man The beauty of The Stinky Cheese Man is that it allows for a number of different interpretations. – While flipping though the pages, I noticed a strong connection between the illustrations and the Gulf War, and could see war images on many of the pages. Chicken Licken - Planes flying through a dark sky above Chicken Licken, The fox dressed in a pilot/military uniform, Jack on the airplane above the fox (holding black and yellow racing flags). – In racing, the color yellow means “caution” which requires racers to slow down due to a hazard on the track. – The divided, diagonal line on the flag indicates that a driver has received a penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior.

24 The Bigger Picture: A Personal Interpretation of The Stinky Cheese Man The Stinky Cheese Man (story) – American flag flying next to the school / flames in the distance behind the Stinky Cheese Man. Jack’s Story – There is a canary sitting on the shoulder of the giant. – In the late 19 th century and early 20 th century, canaries were used to test the air quality in coal mines. Canaries served as a both a symbol of self-sacrifice and as a warning sign for mine workers. Similarly, young men and women who enlist in the military and go off to war are putting their lives on the line for their country.

25 Works Cited Anstey, Michele. “It’s Not All Black and White: Postmodern Picture Books and New Literacies”. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Vol 45, (March 2002): p ERIC. EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIV. 4 May s/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ &ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ s/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ &ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ Bruss, Paul. Postmodern Literature Class Notes. October, Constas, Mark A. “Deciphering Postmodern Educational Research”. Educational Researcher. Vol 27. (December 1998): p JSTOR. EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIV. 4 May Lyon, David. Postmodernity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

26 Works Cited McGavran, James Holt. Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, Nodelman, Perry. The Pleasures of Children's Literature. London: Longman Pub Group, Pantaleo, Sylvia and Lawrence R. Sipe. Postmodern Picturebooks: Play, Parody, and Self-Referentiality. New York: Routledge, Scieszka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. New York: Viking Juvenile, Thacker, Deborah and Jean Webb. Introducing Children's Literature: From Romanticism to Postmodernism. New York: Routledge, 2002.


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