Visual Analysis of Lolita book covers

Read this article about the publication history Nabokav’s Lolita.

For additional information about the novel you might check out the Wikipedia entry.

Your goal in this exercise is to think about how a cover image for the novel Lolita constructs a reader’s response to the novel.  What kinds of things does this image make us think?   What does it say about the novel at that historical moment? To do so, you will use Google Images to find a striking cover image for the novel and analyze the image.

  1. Once you’ve logged into your computers, head to Google Images
  2. When you’ve arrived at Google Images you and your partner should search for some cover images used on the novel Lolita.  Try some different searches—adding different key words (cover vs book) or countries (America vs Australia) will often provide you with different content.
  3. Discover when and where your image was created—is it a Turkish edition from 1959?  A Russian edition from the 1990’s?  An American edition from the 2000’s?  What type of image is it—a photograph?  A drawing?  A painting?  Is it an identifiable piece of art (a famous painting or photograph) or does it look like it was commissioned for that edition?
  4. With your partner, think about and brainstorm some answers to the following questions:  What are the first words that come into your mind when you see this image?  What does it make you think of? If you haven’t read any of the novel, what would this image make you think the book was about?  Now that you’ve read (some of ) the novel, what kind of relationship(s) does this image have to the text?  Who seems to be portrayed?  From whose viewpoint are we looking?  Does this image spark any ideas about the cultural construction of the book?  What kinds of people would make this book, and what kinds of people would read it?    These questions are only a starting place. Please feel free to explore and think about more issues raised by your image.

Be prepared to enlighten the rest of the class about the image you’ve chosen (when and where it’s from, and a brief summary of your thinking about part 4).

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