A comparative study of the Boer War conveyed in the 1901 political cartoons of Edward Linley Sambourne in Punch and Jean Veber in L’Assiette au Beurre.

Allison, Kate (2015) A comparative study of the Boer War conveyed in the 1901 political cartoons of Edward Linley Sambourne in Punch and Jean Veber in L’Assiette au Beurre. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Political cartoons as headline representation are in effect a combination of artistic
licence and a critical version of the truth. Linley Sambourne and Jean Veber’s 1901 cartoons
on the Boer War for Punch and L’Assiette au Beurre create tensions and dialectic not only on
British and French feeling about foreign policy in South Africa and at home, but also indicate
fine points on each publication’s editorial remit. This comparative study is a mirroring
synthesis of these approaches that sets the Boer War forty five cartoons in context.
Whereas Punch’s cartoons are set within a text layout and L’Assiette’s are the text
themselves, both transmit set ideas on The Boer War as ‘sight bite’ news and opinion pieces.
Veber’s cartoons offered swift knee-jerk reactions against the ruling elite and the horrors of
British cruelty toward Boer prisoners as coverage of the war escalated in 1901. His extreme
capturing of the zeitgeist followed the magazine’s editorial bent, but they also reflected his
brave counter-hegemonic stance towards a French government seeking an alliance with its
British counterpart. With this in mind, Antonio Gramsci’s theory on hegemony as applied to
journalism allows the scholar to look at the media from a cultural perspective. This focus is
used to show cartoons as representative of conflicts in the fight for power, but this time
publicly conveyed to the readership. Thus, types of truth enhancements in each set of cartoons
indicate the cartoonists’ respective entrenchment with, or detachment from, Imperial
institutions, thereby signalling emerging attempts of the attitudinal persuasion of the reader
toward Punch or L’Assiette’s political leanings.
The inclusion of political cartoons in editorial pages was part of the cult of visual
attention-grabbing news values that had become professionalised, industrialised and
popularised by the early Twentieth Century. Cartoons can be decoded using Ernst Gombrich’s
six-point filter in order to identify the cartoonist’s method of compressing messages about
people and events. A publication’s politics are reflected in the telescoping of exaggerated
opinions – an effective way to pass on an authoritatively saturated message to the readership.
Gombrich recognised the power of conveying messages to the audience through seemingly
incongruous placement of figures in odd situations within cartoons. His methodology acts as
visual shorthand for images designed to elicit a desired response to a reported situation as the
publication saw it. In the context of the history of journalism, his psychologically analytical
approach is appropriate in the appreciation of cartoons’ extremes, often made more acute by
the partisan politics of war.

Keywords:Political cartoons, Boer War
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V253 Southern African History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V145 Modern History 1900-1919
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P500 Journalism
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (Journalism)
ID Code:19811
Deposited On:14 Dec 2015 10:15

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