Southern Connecticut State University


Signifying and Justifying: Race, Gender, and Nationalism in Editorial Cartoons


This paper explores the discourse of race and gender found in over 1200 political cartoons from several major newspapers in two time periods – 1941-45, during WWII and 1963-65, during the latter half of the Civil Rights Movement. Utilizing a discursive sampling strategy, I separate the years under study based on a particular issue or sequence of historical events. I study the years 1941-45 which encompasses the involvement of the United States in World War II and the years 1963-65 which is encompasses the period six months prior to the signing of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 through the six month period that followed the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The contested images of racism and sexism are the focus of this study. In other words, which images appear of minorities and women during these two eras and why? The question of Why? is important as one considers the role of racial group identity, gender identity, and nationalist identities as portrayed in political cartoons.

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