FT 06-H Political Cartoons: The Serious Business of Making Light of Politics and Government
David J. Hadley, Department of Political Science
"Stop them damn pictures,"William Marcy Tweed, the corrupt boss of New York's Tammany Hall demanded. "I don't care so much what the papers write about me. My Constituents can't read. But...they can see pictures." From the Tammany Tiger to Richard Nixon drawn crawling out from behind the woodwork, to Clinton's portrayal with Pinnocchio's nose grown long from lying and Bush shown as a ten gallon hat suspended in space above the President's shoulder, American politicians have felt the sting of political cartoons. Through political cartoons we will examine major events in American political history, the issues and ideas which have divided American society, the careers of major political figures, and election campaigns that have defined new political eras or ended old ones. Cartoons even take us into world affairs as international cartoons allow us to see the US as others percieve us. Or more dramatically, Danish cartoons recently precipitated mass protests and some violent reactions among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere. Cartoonists from Nast and Keppler to Oliphant, Trudeau and Fiore will help us learn about, understand, laugh at, and cringe over US politics. We will try to understand what distinguishes good cartoons from poor ones, what makes us laugh, what outrages or disgusts us, what works and what does not. Finally, we will use the subject of political cartoons to develop skills of observations, research, analysis, and communication.