We know the world, our world, through stories (Turner 1988: 68). Stories in childhood, whether verbal or written, are inevitably accompanied by visual language forms. This might be the storyteller’s body or a puppet performing mime and gesture; it may be pictures in storybooks, or the endless hybrid combinations of these in film and the electronic media. Even a single photograph can perform in a narrative way: “A picture of a forest tells implicitly of trees growing from seedlings and shedding leaves; and a picture of a house implies that trees were cut for it and that its roof will soon leak. (Goodman 1981:111)” Within a story–making activity, however, the visual image is not a sole performer; it is a participant in an intertextual web of discursive forms and endless meaning-making exercises. It is a complex, fluid experience (Belova 2006). The aim of this paper is to raise some questions about how narrative processes might operate in and through visual texts designed to communicate social injustice and elicit emotional and moral response, such as social documentary photographs and fundraising campaign posters. Using the example of an Australian Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal poster, the paper reflects on how the engaged viewer might be implicated as both character and author in the resonance between the meta–narratives and personal stories from their own life–world and the meanings arising from the poster’s text. In doing so, concepts of interpellation and intertextuality help explain some of the processes which position and compel viewers to respond, and also how they contribute to identifying meanings which reach beyond commonly received readings.
Recommended CitationCrinall, Karen, Appealing for help: A reflection on interpellation and intertextuality in the visual narrative of an Australian welfare campaign poster, Current Narratives, 1, 2009, 11-22.