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Learning Page Chat, November 18, 2004:

Political Cartoons

Room: ASO
LeniD joined the room.
BjB: |** ANNOUNCEMENT: the LOC chat is starting in the After School Online room. The topic is political cartoons. To participate in the discussion, click on the ONLINE tab to the left of the chat window, single click on LeniD and then click on the door icon **|
LeniD: We will get started in just a minute. I see BJ is looking for stragglers.
BJ . o O ( if you see this you're in the right place )
LeniD: Political Cartoons ...coming right up! :-)

BJ: before we begin...
BJ: if you're new to Tapped In, go to the actions menu in the top right of the chat window...
BJ: and click on DETACH
BJ: that will make your chat screen larger and easier to follow
BJ . o O ( Leni usually takes us on a wild ride! )
LeniD: Thanks, BJ. Any other tips for the group?
BJ: do you want to start with introductions, Leni?
LeniD: Yes, please. Will you please tell us your name, where you are from and what you teach?
BJ: I'm an art teacher in Pennsylvania
StevenSh: My name is Steven and I teach High School Social Studies in Houston, TX
GeneKe: Gene---Akron, Ohio - pre service middle school math/science
KatieBo: Katie, Akron, Ohio, pre service middle social studies and science
LeslieWa: Leslie Warren, a librarian at Moraine Valley Community College in Chicago's southwest 'burbs
ZakW: I'm Zak, and I'm working towards a history degree and secondary licensure at Maryville college in Maryville, tn
SusanR: K to 8 Occasional Teacher from Ottawa, Ontario
CraigE: My name is Craig----Fairfax,Va---I'm a pre-service teacher studying at George Mason University
GailP: Hello from Roanoke!
LeniD: I’m Leni Donlan the coordinator of the Learning Page project at the Library of Congress.
GailP: I'm in the middle of an event using public computers, but wanted to say hi and see if I could visit for a bit!
LeniD: Welcome, one and all :-)

LeniD: So let's talk about political cartoons and how they are used in teaching and learning.
LeniD: We'll begin by considering what others have said about this art form..
LeniD: "The political cartoon is a sort of pictorial breakfast food. It has the cardinal asset of making the beginning of the day sunnier." ~ John T McCutcheon
LeniD: Would you agree? :-) Do you see political cartoons as day brighteners? Do your students?
BJ: sunnier? Depends on the topic of the cartoon!
KatieBo: I think they can be a highlight for me sometimes
CraigE: I agree with BJ...
StevenSh: I agree with BJ ...depends on topic.
CraigE: Depends on the topic
GeneKe: it's possible, but not always
ZakW: they can definitely make a day sunnier, but also make you think before beginning the day
LeniD: I agree, Zak!

LeniD: Herb Block said..
“The political cartoon is not a news story and not an oil portrait. It's essentially a means for poking fun, for puncturing pomposity. ...
I've often summed up the role of the cartoonist as that of the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen story who says the emperor has no clothes on.”
Is this how you view the medium?
LeslieWa: They are often able to strip away the "sound bite" nature of typical news
LeniD: Well said, Leslie.
ZakW: somewhat yes. I certainly get my laughs out of it, but they can also be more blunt in the point that is trying to be conveyed.
LeniD: Some are like a poke in the eye...and not really laughable.
StevenSh: i agree with Zak ...I like the fact that they get the point across without necessarily being sensationalized.
ZakW: That is very true
LeniD: Do you think your students understand this kind of humor?
KatieBo: I think it depends the level they are on.
StevenSh: I just had my students do cartoons on progressivism and expansionism...they didn't get it.
LeniD: What grade are they, Steven?
LeniD: I agree, Katie.
StevenSh: high school
LeslieWa: Some of mine do, but it usually takes a lot of current events awareness to understand the sophisticated ones.
StevenSh: i agree with leslie
ZakW: i think it depends on the level of the students and the class subject and the cartoon itself.
LeniD: Yes, they do require "background knowledge."
LeniD: All true, Zak.
ZakW: I'll agree with you - they do require background knowledge.
LeniD: How have you used political cartoons with your students? If you are a pre service educator, how do you think you may use political cartoons in the future?
StevenSh: Every chapter I teach we use political cartoons...big on our state mandated tests.
LeslieWa: I'm getting ready to teach Intro to Mass Comm in the spring - my first time to teach it - I want a cartoon activity.
LeniD: You may find one, tonight, Leslie!
LeslieWa: great!
KatieBo: I think that they can be useful.

GeneKe: would you define what you mean by a political cartoon?
LeniD: Hmm...that's a good question, Gene. I'll take a stab at can all jump in to help...
GeneKe: clear up my misconceptions
LeniD: A political cartoon is a drawn depiction of an event, person, issue...
that points out what is laughable or ludicrous about what is shown ....either playfully or rather painfully.
StevenSh: i think that is an excellent definition Leni.
LeniD: Does that sound close, folks?
LeniD: Thanks, Steven!
KatieBo: sounds good to me
GeneKe: how is that different from any other cartoon?
ZakW: I'm a big fan of political cartoons. and yeah, that sounds like a good description of a political cartoon
D_rauscGst16: Why do you think it is good to use them in the classroom?
StevenSh: They point out what is right or wrong about a particular person, event, issue - according to the cartoonist and sometimes popular opinion.
BJ: I think that a 'political cartoon doesn't necessarily have to depict a political can be social commentary.
LeniD: Gene ...I think the term "political" indicates that it is more than just about everyday "life"...
KatieBo: it gives the students an idea of the issues around them.
GailP: I'm here at a library conference in Roanoke (VEMA) and was talking to someone watching over my shoulder who said - and I quote " Political cartoons are the only truthful thing in the newspaper." Interesting comment!!
ZakW: Yeah, these cartoons can encompass anything in life and socially whether it be politics, consumerism, etc...
LeniD: Good comment, Gail!
BJ: a very touching cartoon when Chris Reeves died was a picture of a man in a wheelchair entering a phone booth and superman with wings flying off to heaven.
GeneKe: It's merely a visual representation of a person's different than text.
CraigE: or truth
LeslieWa: We keep hearing that our students are more visually literate than in the past, maybe cartoons are good way to engage them in current events.
LeniD: are right about the representation of bias or point of view.
KatieBo: Right... but you can read them at a glance, and don't have to read an article for meaning.
StevenSh: or work around all the 'junk' they include in order to fill in an article.
LeniD: If you understand them and know what to look for, Katie.
KatieBo: right
SusanR: editorial cartoons
BJ: ahhh, Katie...that is assuming that the viewer is visually literate
BJ . o O ( and knows how to 'read' a picture )
ZakW: Leni is right. If you have no background knowledge of what the cartoon is commenting on, it is very difficult to know what's going on
LeniD: Editorial cartoons and political cartoons ...sometimes used interchangeably. Do you think they differ, Susan?
GeneKe: can be more succinct yet vague at the same time leaving room for different interpretations
StevenSh: BJ's thought is a good one in my opinion...that is what I am trying to teach my students.
LeniD: Yes...that's true, too, Gene!
KatieBo: right
SusanR: usually they are the same thing, Leni
LeniD: Visual literacy is a very important skill, today.

LeniD: are full of thoughts about this you want to see what the Library offers?
D_rauscGst16: has anyone allowed their students to create their own cartoons regarding an issue?
SusanR: yes
GeneKe: of course!
StevenSh: i just had my students create some
LeniD: That's a great activity, D-rausc :-0
StevenSh: yes Leni ...I need all the help I can get
D_rauscGst16: do they really enjoy it?
SusanR: I am only aware of the Cagle site
ZakW: i believe my junior history teacher had us do that in high school
LeniD: I did it several times with younger students. (5th grade)...they loved it and did some great thinking.:-)
KatieBo: my english teacher in 12th grade had us make one, but she also had the local comic come in and talk to us.
LeniD: What a great idea, Katie!

LeniD: Let me start "showing"...
LeniD: Let’s start with this essay from the late cartoonist, Herb Block...

LeniD: When you use the next link, choose a clickable page link that appeals to you. When the new page appears showing specific items, click on the “preview images” button.
American Cartoon Prints

GailP: If you don't know how to go about searching for a cartoon in the collection, or you can't think of a subject to use, go to the subject index - you'll get lots of ideas.
StevenSh: Leni, besides Uncle Sam representing America in political cartoons, what are some of the other common characters used?
LeniD: Hmmm...good question, Steven. Gail? Michael?
StevenSh: I'm trying to teach my students how to read these...
GailP: Try the index :-)
StevenSh: and most of them understood Uncle Sam
StevenSh: thanks Gail!
LeniD: I have something coming up that will help your students, Steven.
LeniD: We'll get there soon...but let's keep looking at the available resources for now...

LeniD: Here's an excellent place to start when looking for political cartoon resources from the Library.
Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon... Exhibitions and Online Presentations

TimothyR: I read a cartoon I'm not proud of. It was about Bush asking C. Rice if she wanted to be The Secretary Of State.
LeniD: Political cartoons definitely have a "point of view," which may or may not agree with our own views.
ZakW: even the ones I don't agree with I will still laugh at.
TimothyR: I don't know what some people are thinking. Well if Ms. Rice has the credentials, don't make it sound like a step up because she is offered the job. She has earned it. The cartoon made what I thought to be a racial statement.
GeneKe: Some don't believe that....maybe she's filling a quota from their perspective.
TimothyR: You could be right but I would like to believe she has the credentials.
LeniD: You interpret cartoons according to your own biases, don't you? But they make you think, whether you agree with them or not!
KatieBo: Opinions are opinions, you have to remember that when viewing their art work.
GeneKe: You're rational though.
ZakW: A lot of political cartoons are what you make of them and get out of them.
TimothyR: Yes that is true.
LeniD: Yes ...interpretation is what makes them work...or not... for different individuals.

LeniD: Let's look at some individual collections...
Bill Mauldin - Beyond Willie and Joe
and from the Wise Guide...

LeniD: Cartoon Cornucopia - The J. Arthur Wood, Jr. Collection of Cartoon Art...

LeslieWa: The drawing styles have certainly changed a lot in the last hundred years!
StevenSh: Leni, are all of these links available through the LOC?
LeniD: Yes, isn't that interesting Leslie?
LeslieWa: It seems we need significantly less detail to interpret them now.
LeniD: Yes...they are Steven.
KatieBo: How do they decide what comics are available?
LeniD: Katie, we share what has been donated to or collected by the Library, what copyright restrictions allow us to digitize, and what might appeal to our large public audience.
StevenSh: I think a lot of that is because we have the background knowledge via TV news.
GeneKe: LeniD - So should we use them to create conversation, controversy, to engage....what do you suggest?
GailP: Perfect question, Gene. What do you think?
GeneKe: all of the above
StevenSh: I agree Gene
LeniD: We're all in agreement:-)
GailP: I would agree - and you know your audience (ie - students and background knowledge)
GeneKe: Are there copyright rules to follow? Same as anything else?
LeniD: Gail, would you like to address this copyright question?
GailP: Yes, here from the Virginia Educational Media Conference :-)
LeniD: Yes, Gene. Our holdings have some copyright information that indicates what restrictions on use are required.
LeniD: Most of the material on our sites can be used for educational purposes without too much worry... But should you want to use them for commercial purposes, you need to seriously explore the existing limitations. That's simplistic, but usually fairly true for educational purposes.
GailP: If you are going to use the cartoon as a teaching example - in class - not in many classes - not copying it and saving it for many, many semesters, etc. etc - and thinking about fair use.....
GailP: very complicated question....
GeneKe: standard copyright laws apply, thanks.

LeniD: The work of cartoonist Edmund Valtman...
and from the Wise Guide...

LeniD: Herblock’s History - Political Cartoons from the Crash to the Millennium...
StevenSh: Love the 'Balance' cartoon
LeniD: There are a number of my favorites in there, too :-0

LeniD: Humor’s Edge - Cartoons by Ann Telnaes
And the Wise Guide companion piece...
LeslieWa: Saw the Telnaes exhibit at the LOC when I visited DC over the summer - EXCELLENT exhibit!
LeniD: Yes ...I agree, Leslie! It came down only recently.
GailP: Now you can review it all online, Leslie!
GailP: But I have to admit, seeing the real thing is the BEST!
LeslieWa: I liked its context in the LOC building - great example of First Amendment in action to be able to see the cartoons across from the Capitol
LeniD: true!
GailP: Great comment!

LeniD: You can take older students directly to many of the resources just shown...but how can you get them (and younger students, as well) to understand and appreciate political cartoons? Here's a new activity from the Learning Page to help you!
It’s No Laughing Matter - Analyzing Political Cartoons
LeniD: See what you think :-)
GailP: Make sure to view the Resources For Teachers - you'll find links to sites both within and outside of the LOC.
KatieBo: I like the definition this Web site has.
LeniD: Good!
KatieBo: it helps us as educators understand what they are, so we can then explain them
StevenSh: wish I had this a week ago
LeniD: Well, remember where it is the next time you need it, Steven.
GailP: Glad to hear that, Katie!
LeniD: Good to hear, Katie.
StevenSh: just saved it as a favorite
GailP: That is a great compliment, Steven!
StevenSh: it's an excellent description and activity...
StevenSh: we have Internet access in the room, so I think I'll do the self-test with my kids
KatieBo: the Analysis Guide will also give students a concrete list of items that make a good comic, that will help them understand what they are looking for
LeslieWa: Have the LOC exhibit selectors faced any political pressures in selecting which cartoons to include in the exhibits or in teaching activities?
LeniD: The teaching activities are developed by my group, Leslie. We look for items that are already online give us themes and direction. The guidelines for the library at large do, as you might think, involve some political discretion.

LeniD: We have about five more minutes. Would you like to spend more time with that activity, or would you prefer that I show you more resources?
KatieBo: i think it would be cool to see more
LeniD: From the Wise Guide:
“It’s the Stupidest Tea Party”

LeniD: And from America’s Library:
Jane Adams - Peacemaker
William Jennings Bryan and the Free Silver Movement...
Marshall and McCarthyism...
LeslieWa: You could teach a whole American history class based on these
LeniD: certainly could!
LeniD: And here I’ll stop! These resources and many more (including Lessons, Collection Connections, search terms and a bibliography) can be found in the Learning Page Community Center on Political Cartoons
GeneKe: thanks leni and gail
ZakW: thanks
StevenSh: thanks Leni!
LeslieWa: Thanks!
LeniD: You are all very welcome! We hope this was helpful, folks.
KatieBo: great resources, thank you much
GailP: You're welcome
GailP: Fun to be here
BJ applauds enthusiastically. Thanks, Leni and Gail
LeniD: Our pleasure :-)

LeniD: Please join us in our next chat on December 16...same time, same place!
LeniD: We will talk about the role music and song can play in learning ...and will share music-related resources from the Library of Congress.
LeniD: Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!
BJ too!
GailP: Bye from Roanoke and VEMA!
LeniD: Good night, everyone. Thanks for joining us tonight.
LeniD left the room (signed off).

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Last updated 11/22/2004