This paper applies visual grammar theory to make a multimodal discourse analysis of book covers of the different Chinese versions of Jane Eyre. It illustrates the relationship between the social environment and social changes in Chinese society and culture in relation to an increasing social acceptance of the novel in China. This research not only validates the applicability and practicability of visual grammar in analyzing book covers, but also helps to show an ideological change in Chinese readers and publishers over time from the 1930s to the 21st century. Indeed, the connotations of book covers of the different Chinese versions of Jane Eyre seem to be closely related to different historical and social contexts. They document and bear witness to, in their particular way, the tremendous changes in Chinese society from early last century on. They also show that Jane, the heroine of the novel, seemed to be re-discovered over and over again in China, depending on the main social features of different periods. She seems to have been portrayed as the gray presence, the feminist, the lover and protagonist, and finally the icon.
About the authors
Jie Wu (b. 1989) is an English teacher at the School of Jingjiang, Jiangsu University. Her research interests include multimodal discourse analysis and multicultural communication. Her articles “Analysis of Little Red’s illustration through perspective of multimodality” (2016), “The analysis of Jane Eyre’s cover in Chinese translation through the perspective of multimodality” (2013).
Qinghong Wu (b. 1969) is a professor of English in School of Language of Jiangsu University (China). Her major research areas include English Women novelists’ study, multicultural communication, and British culture studies. Her articles include “An argumentative study of Eastern literary critical on Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth from the perspective of Toulmin’s argumentation model” (2017), “Love dedicated to children – On Ted Hughes’ view of children’s poetry writing” (2017), “On Virginia Woolf’s art of autobiographical narrative” (2016), “The influence of unitarianism on Mrs. Gaskell” (2015).
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