1. Explore the following website: https://chineseposters.net/
It makes available collections of Communist Chinese posters owned by Stefan Landsberger and the International Institute of Social History at the University of Leiden. Go to the “Themes” tab, and choose two posters on the same theme to analyze. Ideally, they should approach the same theme but in different ways – do not pick two similar-looking posters. (n.b. Choose posters dating to before 1975; avoid the categories of New Years prints, chubby babies, photographs.)
2. Write a three-to-four page paper on the two posters you have chosen, and compare how they present their shared theme. This is a visual analysis paper, and an exercise in understanding the visual language of the propaganda poster (which, remember, is a form of mass political communication). Do not forget to summarize the theme of the posters – whether it is hygiene, the Great Leap Forward, the place of women or depictions of Zhou Enlai. Try to get beyond the obvious language of the posters – consider the more subtle messages suggested in everything from the choices of style, composition and color to motifs, symbolism, story line, characters, etc., also think about the assumptions of the image. What is the message, how does the poster convey its message and how does it visually work to persuade and move the viewer?
3. On EEE, I include a sample visual analysis paper that should give you some idea of the visual elements to consider when writing such a paper.
4. Expect to do some basic online research on Communist Chinese history and culture in order to understand your theme – be sure to footnote your sources (e.g. if you choose the theme of the Great Leap Forward, explain what that is and cite your source for that information). You can look up the sources Landsberger cites, and use on-line sources (use on-line sources cautiously and make sure they are reliable). Again, footnote all sources, including any information you use form chineseposters.net.
5. Papers should be properly formatted and typed, with a title. Margins should be no larger than an inch, and the font should be 12-point. Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.
6. Do not forget a thesis! You will be graded on the strength of your thesis, your argument and the depth of your analysis – don’t describe the posters, investigate how they function visually. You will also be graded on your writing: aim for clarity and organization.
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