Discussion Activity: Practice in Critical Evaluation of a Cartoon
The purpose of this activity is to review an example of a political cartoon, then evaluate one student’s approach to evaluating that cartoon.
By evaluating the cartoon and the written analysis, you will learn more about how to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of your own cartoon analysis essays. Also, consider how you will apply an objective lens to evaluating potentially controversial or culturally sensitive arguments.
Links to cartoon and sample analysis:
- Sample Cartoon: Mexican PinataLinks to an external site. (Right click and open in new window) https://images.app.goo.gl/NfyJ4KrYyBttmUcs9Links to an external site.
- Sample Student Essay: “Drugs to Death in a Political Cartoon: Oversimplification?” (Chilton) Click on link below.
To prepare for your essay, engage in a close examination of the cartoon(s) selected. In the prewriting
stages, take notes to identify examples of the visual elements and argumentative strategies you plan to
Ask and answer the following questions as you gather information:
1. What is the subject of the cartoon? Who is concerned about it? Why?
2. What is the author’s background and experience with this subject? How does the author’s personal
background influence his or her perspective on the issue?
3. When and where is this written or spoken text situated in time? How is this a significant or motivating
4. What is the cartoonist’s purpose or intentions? In other words, what does the cartoonist wish to
accomplish in the selected cartoon(s)?
5. How would you describe the cartoonist’s style? What role does the author’s style play in the overall
effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the argument?
A. Consider and discuss the following elements when evaluating the student writer’s analysis.
- Introductory paragraph(s):
- identification of the cartoonist, subject, and argument
- thesis argues how the cartoonist builds the visual argument effectively or ineffectively
- Body paragraphs:
- summary and description of what is visually depicted in the cartoon
- historical context or background to the argument
- modes of appeal–use of ethos, pathos, logos
- awareness or sensitivity to audience, cultural and social context
- analysis for use of persuasive techniques: symbol, exaggeration, labeling, tone, analogy, irony, color, etc.
- Concluding paragraph(s):
- transitions from analysis to synthesis or “summing up” the key arguments
- goes beyond restating the thesis to expressing final insights or conclusions
Genre (Type of Writing):
For this assignment, you will write a formal essay, an analysis that shows your ability to closely examine a
visual cartoon and the cartoonist’s persuasive strategies in-depth.
Required Length: 3 to 4 pages of written text
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