Cartoons As Propaganda

We are about to start reading the only graphic novel to ever to receive the Pulitzer Prize, Art Spiegelman's Maus. In the book, different nationalities are represented by different types of animals. Representing an entire group of people through one identifying factor is not something new, and today we are going to look at some of the art and media from during the World War II era to look at how problematic art and comics that condense everything about a country or a group of people into a caricature can be.

You have all seen advertisements before that try to get you to buy a new product or vote for one candinate over another. You have also seen cartoons that make you feel one way or another. Today, we are going to look at posters that used a one-panel comic to convey ideas.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die.jpg

What do you think cartoon made people think about when it was created in 1754?

What does it make you think about today?

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I WANT YOU to look at look at how different countries involved in World War II used artwork and text to create compelling advertisements.


You are going to first do some reading on what propaganda is and how it was used; then, you are going to compare and contrast how different countries used it. Finally, you are going to get a chance to be creative and create your own piece of propaganda.

Step 1: Chose one from the following countries:

    United States
    Japan
    Germany
    United Kingdom

Step 2: On a separate piece of paper, answer the following questions:

    What is the general mood and tone of the propaganda from my country?
    How does my country generally depicts its enemies?
    In what ways is propaganda from my country similar to propaganda from countries on the same side of the war?
    In what ways is propaganda from my country similiar to propaganda used by countries on the opposite side of the war?
    What symbols or images do you see reoccurring in different pieces?
    How does adding images to the slogan better help the meaning get across?

Step 3: Pretend you are a journalist from your country during the height of WWII. Create an original imagine and slogan to persuade others to join your side or help your side. Image should be 8.5"x11".

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Read this page first to learn more about propaganda.

(This video is an optional watch, but if you need more information or examples about how propaganda works, I suggest you sit through it.)

You are now going to get a chance to look at galleries of different types of propaganda from different countries. Click on the different links to get a sense of what types of propaganda there are.

Gallery of American posters

A playlist of Allied propaganda commercials

Nazi propaganda

German propaganda photography set in France

British propaganda posters

Dr. Seuss's political cartoons

Gallery Japanese posters

When you have finished answering the questions asked in the Task page, it's time to start thinking about your own propaganda poster! You can create this using whatever medium you want, meaning you can use a computer to create a completely digital image. Think about what your goal of your poster is - are you trying to convince people to enlist, help build patriotism, or simply want to make the other guys look bad?

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You have finished looking at different ways countries used art and short slogans to influence their citizens into doing what their government wanted them to do. These posters, films, and cartoons reminded everyday civilians of happy art and comics, making it more likely the citizens would follow the instructions of the propaganda.

We are about to start reading a book that uses propaganda's style of depicting everybody from one country or ethnicity as the same kind of symbolic image. As you read, think about why the author might have used different animals for different characters.

Please read an article that I wrote about the book, and I encourage you to listen to the background music while you read.

Your homework is to either read the first four pages of Maus or watch the videos:

[Graphic Novel Reader]. 2016, April 1. Maus audio comic book chapter 1. -->. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAvUD2a_kT8&t.

Spiegelman, A. (1986). Maus: A survivor's tale. New York: Pantheon Books.

[TopTenz]. 2014, October 10. Top 10 WWII posters. -->. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu2ciyXtX_Q.

This webquest was created by Elyse Dunstan for #351Davis at the University of Mary Washington, Fall '16.