Multimodal Discourses of Violence: The Female Figure in Online Cartoons

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Women are overwhelming underrepresented in editorial cartoons. Aside from key female politicians such as Margaret Thatcher (UK), Teresa May (UK) and Angela Merkel (Germany), there is a lacuna of women depicted in cartoons in general, everyday women and in particular women’s issues. This study explores the multimodal representation of women and the female figure in China Daily online cartoons. The study involves a critical multimodal discourse analysis of 10 online cartoons in China Daily depicting coverage of women’s issues and of violence against women. Of particular note is the use of anthropomorphism which metaphorically transforms the American Statue of Liberty into a suffering battered female with the attribution of human emotions despite symbolically occupying the community and international space of (female) strength, justice, forthrightness. Using aspects from Bateman’s (2008) framework for analysing multimodal texts and Chen et al.’s (2017) contribution to mapping the field of (political) cartoon studies, observations are documented about how seemingly benign multimodal discourses such as editorial cartoons in the online media can shape gender-sensitive perspectives.

Selected References
Bateman, J.A. (2008) Multimodality and genre. Palgrave.
Chen, K.W., Phiddian, R. & Stewart, R. (2017) Towards a discipline of political cartoon studies: Mapping the field. In: Davis, J. (Ed.) Satire and Politics: The Interplay of Heritage and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 125–162.
Chu Y (2020) On the hypoiconic structure of cartoons. Social Semiotics.
Chu Y (2014) Political cartoons in China. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 8: pp. 1–9.
Lazar, M. (2005). Feminist critical discourse analysis: gender, power and ideology in discourse. Palgrave Macmillan.
Sunderland, J. (2004). Gendered discourses. Palgrave Macmillan.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2023
Event3rd Gender Studies Conference: Gender, Community and Practices - University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China
Duration: 9 Jun 202310 Jun 2023


Conference3rd Gender Studies Conference: Gender, Community and Practices
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