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Judging a Book by its Cover : The Manifestation of the Bodily in Contemporary Autobiography


  • Anna Persson

Summary, in English

Since book covers have become the focus of critical attention only in few recent years, there is a small number of studies published that examine the interaction between the text and the book cover. This interaction seems to be especially significant in the case of autobiographies as there are at least two ways for the author to present himself: as the narrator of the text and as the subject visualised on the book cover. This study is based on my preliminary research, which shows that the author’s body as a link between the text of autobiography and the photo image on the book cover has never been discussed before.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the expressions of the bodily in autobiography through the lens of intermediality. This study explores four autobiographical texts featuring their authors’ photographic images on the book covers: Dancing Naked in the Mind Field (1998) by Kary Mullis, Mosaic: The Pieces of My Life So Far (2007) by Amy Grant, The Fry Chronicles (2011) by Stephen Fry, and How to be a Woman (2012) by Caitlin Moran. I examine both the visual images on the book covers and the verbal texts by applying the theory of the performative. I argue that self-presentation of the bodily in the autobiography is two-fold because the trustworthiness of the photographic image of the author on the cover in conjunction with the autobiographical text reinforces the audience’s illusion of getting the unconditional autobiographical 'truth'.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • bodily
  • body
  • photographs
  • Book covers
  • visual images
  • autobiography
  • intermedial analysis
  • Richard Schechner
  • intermediality
  • Roland Barthes
  • gestalt
  • author's body
  • bilder
  • bokomslag
  • fotografier
  • kroppslighet
  • författarens kropp


  • Birgitta Berglund (FD)