Original Research

Gender representation in Christian book covers: A case study

Stella Viljoen, Leandra Koenig-Visagie
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 32, No 1 | a487 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v32i1.487 | © 2011 Stella Viljoen, Leandra Koenig-Visagie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2010 | Published: 01 April 2011

About the author(s)

Stella Viljoen, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Leandra Koenig-Visagie, UNISA, South Africa


In this article, we described how gender is represented on two Christian book covers by popular author, John Eldredge, namely Wild at Heart. Discovering the Secret to a Man’s Soul (2001) and Captivating. Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul (2005). Through semiotic visual analysis, we explored how the active male–passive female opposition functions on these covers. This opposition is constructed by visually associating the male figure on the cover of Wild at Heart with active outdoor adventurism and the female figure on Captivating with passive situatedness in nature. The titles of the two books also contribute to positioning the male as active and the female as passive. We further investigated how certain myths are created on these covers in support of an active male–passive female opposition and its underlying ideologies. The cover of Wild at Heart creates and also taps into the colonial myth of conquest. The cover of Captivating creates and taps into the myth of the fairytale and visually represents the female figure in a whimsical manner, thus constructing her as a representation of the spiritual or divine. The article questioned the role this information design plays in prescribing the expectations of gendered identity.


Christianity; femininity; gender; masculinity; stereotypes


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Verbum et Ecclesia  vol: 32  issue: 1  year: 2011  
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