Vol 10, No 2 (2014) Connotations of Eve


George Aichele


In her book, Admen and Eve (2012), Katie Edwards suggests that modern advertisers exercise this passion or power of (re-)naming when they invoke the biblical story of Eden. Like Crowley’s Girl and Boy or Eco’s Adam and Eve, the “admen” draw upon the “limitless possibilities of semiosis” opened up by connotations that operate in every language and culture, but they do so in order to exploit the more mundane passions of female consumers: desires for happiness, success, or romance. More specifically, they draw upon a conventional Christian understanding of the Eden story—an understanding that is quite different from those suggested in either Crowley’s story or Eco’s essay. Edwards’s book surveys a large number of print advertisements in which what is evidently and often explicitly an Eve-figure appears, frequently accompanied by an apple, a serpent, or an Adam-figure, and sometimes in a garden or forest setting. The book’s final chapter also examines the TV series Desperate Housewives, as well as the movie Twilight. These are not advertisements as such but were actively used to market items of interest to women. The re-naming of portions of the Eden story that appears in such advertisements reverses that story’s connotative polarities as they are identified in the conventional understanding of it, replacing the signifieds of the Christian understanding with binary opposites. Eve as the Original Sinner and temptress of Adam is transformed into an alluring, prosperous, and powerful woman, and the biblical story of the paradisal origins of human history metamorphoses into a postfeminist story of personal empowerment through consumption of perfume, cosmetics, or other items of interest to women.


Katie Edwards; Admen and Eve


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