Stereotyping in the Representation of Narrative Texts Through Visual Reformulations

Authors

  • Melina Porto MA

    1. National University of La Plata
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      Melina Porto (MA, University of Essex) is a teacher trainer and researcher at the National University of La Plata, La Plata, Argentina.


Abstract

Abstract: This study investigated the process of stereotyping in the representation of the content of narrative texts through visual reformulations. Two hundred nineteen visual reformulations produced in response to three narrative texts about Christmas celebrations were analyzed (one in Spanish, the subjects' native tongue, and two in English as a foreign language). Subjects were Argentine college students (prospective teachers and translators of English, Caucasian, mostly female, middle-class) between 19 and 21 years of age enrolled in English Language II at the National University of La Plata in Argentina. Stereotypes in the visual reformulations were classified into two large groups: those corresponding to the native culture and those referring to the target (alien) culture. Stereotypes were further classified into three categories of reference: main characters (personality and/or physical appearance), the Christmas celebration itself, and the storyline. A selection of typical visual reformulations is analyzed here. In general, the visual reformulations did not sufficiently capture the cultural content of the texts and embodied a superficial approach plagued with stereotypes. The students' perceptions of otherness were limited to what was exotic or exciting and did not reflect genuine efforts to become familiar with what was strange. The study thus revealed the learners' inability to transcend their cultural biases and points to an urgent need to address stereotypes in the classroom.

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