[237120, A2] Wk 5: Task 4 – Demonstrate Visual Analysis & Contextual Knowledge in a Blog Post

David Low 'What, no chair for me'

“What, no chair for me?” Political cartoon by David Low, from the Granger Historical Picture Archives (Published 1938)

David Low was a cartoonist collaborating with various magazines during WWI and the interwar period (1919-1938), creating a breadcrumb trail of historical records in reaction to major events leading up to WWII. By analyzing his works, an audience may gain an understanding of power dynamics between major world powers based on their depictions in such works of satire.

The scene depicts the Munich Conference of 1938, a final attempt in vain at appeasing the Axis powers (Germany, Italy & the USSR) by giving them power over Czechoslovakia to avoid another World War. The scene exemplifies Nicholas Mirzoeff’s arguments made in ‘The World of War’; that maps are visual records of power struggle and conflict (Mirzoeff 103). As such, an audience may see this visual text through the lens of power struggles which would come to redefine the European borders.

However, it may be problematic to rely on this single visual text to understand a power struggle. As explained in the text ‘Images, Power, and Politics,’ the power dynamic lies not only within the subjects depicted, but with the creator of the image and its audience (Sturken and Cartwright 9). The artist has the power to manipulate our perspective of historical events.

Works Cited:

  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The World of War.” How to See the World. United Kingdom: Penguin Random House, 2015. 101-127. Print.
  • Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 9-48. Print.
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