Contact Me

Phone: 612-605-6805

College of Liberal Arts

What I do in meetings: hand-knitting. If you are a knitter you can find me on Ravelry as rmk.

What's wrong with this picture?

As they used to say in those puzzle magazines when I was a kid, how many differences can you find between these pictures?

Authors never get final say on book covers, but publishers often ask for suggestions. I told Routledge I wanted a scene from the margin of the Bayeux Tapestry. That’s it on the left. The photo is small, but yes, that’s what you think it is.

Routledge, however, chose to use the equivalent scene from a replica of the Bayeux Tapestry in the Reading Museum, made in 1885-86. The photo on the right is what appears on the book cover. Someone, either the person who planned the replica or the ladies who stitched it, did a fair amount of editing. You can read about it here

Routledge’s view was that it was essentially the same picture and didn’t matter. It seems to me that if you are talking about medieval attitudes about sexuality, it does matter whether you illustrate it with a medieval image or the same image censored by the Victorians. As a colleague suggested, the image from the replica loses the thrust of the argument.

The moral of this story is: Publish with an academic press. They won’t give you final say on the cover any more than a trade press will, but they can’t afford a staff member to clear photo permissions. You will have to do it yourself, thereby guaranteeing at least that the picture the press has in hand is the one you want to use.