Wednesday, 26 April 2017

wag the dog

Persuasive maps, as the always marvellous Nag on the Lake informs, is the term used for images such as the one pictured of the run up to the 1896 contested presidential election (William McKinley versus William Jennings Bryan that gets allegorical mention in the Wizard of Oz) meant as a vehicle for propaganda rather than impart geopolitical information.
We’ve encountered such illustrations beforehand but didn’t know that that particular genre had a name—and though it’s obvious that there is an implicit message, sometimes we’re so far removed from events that it’s hard to appreciate a caricature as anything other than silly or bigoted or mean-spirited—much less a dedicated collection and expanding digital archive to peruse at the Cornell University Library. Perhaps in context and well curated we will be able decipher these symbols better, and maybe we’ll do a better job recognising contemporary hoopla presented as skewed statistics and shock-infographics.