Methodological Building Blocks: Developing a protocol for mapping and piecing

Methodological Building Blocks: Developing a protocol for mapping and piecing

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Methodological Building Blocks: Developing a protocol for mapping and piecing
Anderson, Anne W. ( Author )
University of South Florida
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Cartoons and comics ( lcsh )
Semiotics ( lcsh )


Mapping the unknown territory of cross-modal, multi-contextual, non-linear texts for the purpose of piecing together and understanding their intended messages—as opposed to just inventorying their features—required a recursive, iterative, and non-linear tool: Cro-MENDA.

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Interpreting Editorial Cartoons

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Anne W. Anderson, 2016 / Cro MENDA BlockIcon 1 Methodological Building Blocks : Developing a protocol for mapping and piecing Mapping the unknown territory of cross modal, multi contextual non linear texts for the purpose of piecing together and underst anding their intended messages as opposed to just inventorying their features req uired a recursive, iterative and non linear tool : Cro MENDA I developed Cross Modal Ethnographic Narrative Document Analysis ( Cro MENDA ) to study editorial cartoons a type of cross modal multi contextual, non linear text published in an early twentieth century newspaper. Methods used to study multi modal and cross modal texts Tsakona (2009) reflected prevailing thought about the dual modality of cartoons when he wrote, In cartoons, meaning is produced either via two semiotic modes, the verbal and the visual, or solely via the visual mode. Hence, cartoons could be considered a sp ecific kind of semiotic domain" (p. 1171). However, Tsa k on a (2009) also quoted Gee's (2003) de fi nition of a semiotic domain, any set of practices th at recruits one or more modalities (e.g. oral or written language, images, equations, symbols, sounds, gestures, graphs, artifacts, etc.) to communicat e distinctive types of meaning' (p.1171) which in cludes multiple modalities. Tsa k on a (2009) then went o n to note that the visual code and its interaction with the verbal one result in the non linearity of cartoon messages affecting thus the cognitive processing of cartoons (p. 1171) I argue that cartoons contain, at the least, the implicit modalities of sound, gestures, and symbols in addition to those of written language and images and that they work in concert with each other. For example, when we read a speech bubble, we can imagine a voice speaking the Block Icon Figure 1 On the left is "Marching on to Washington, by SAV, published in the Appeal to Reason February 12, 1910, p. 1. On the right is "Grosscu p Takes to Tall Timber," by Savage, published in the Appeal to Reason April 16, 1910. Even though the cartoons are assumed to be by the same cartoonist, they depict different topics, use different visual and textual elements, and invite different points o f entry into the narrative of the cartoon.


Anne W. Anderson, 2016 / Cro MENDA BlockIcon 2 words with particular inflections h ence, my u se of cross modal, a term I first came across in Sloutsky and Lo's (1999) study on linguistic labels. Methods used to study editorial cartoons Lombard, et al., (1999) conducted an extensive of studies of cartoons written between the 1940s and the mid 19 90s and concluded most studies focus ed on one topic, were from one particular perspective, and use d one method (either quantitative or qualitative) Table 1 lists some types of similar single focus studies I have come across in my reading. However, Lombard et al., (1999) also noted that the focus can also be a more macro level analysis of the production of comic art and/or its effects" and that "an especially intrepid researcher could combine a micro level, textual analysis w ith a macro level one" (p. 22) which more nearly described my study. My qualitative study (Yin, 2011) com bined micro level analysis of particular cartoons and macro level analysis of cartoons in a particular newspaper with a particular audience Bateman' s (2008) GeM (Genre and Multimodality) quantitative method was comprehensive but focused primarily on the visual /verbal elements contained in informative paper and web based documents. Eventually and after some trial and error attempts, I pieced together m y own method. Table 1: Single focus studies of editorial cartoons from varied disciplines, topics, methods, and perspectives Author (Year) Method Topic/(Perspective) Quote or Note Bivins (1984) Content Analysis Determine differences in speed of interpretation by readers between single panel and multiple panel cartoons (Communications) "ability to distill the most complex issues into simple graphic metaphor coupled with its availability to the mass audience make it a potentially potent political f orce" if the "message [is] placed within the most easily decipherable framework" (p. 182). Bush (2013) Rhetorical analysis Use of rhetoric in American political cartoons (Rhetoric) "a hybrid of text, pictorial representations, symbols, shadings, and humor that become a puzzle, a sophisticated rebus, that is affectively engaging to skimmers" (p. 65) Cohen (2011) Archaeology artefactual analysis Sports themed historical cartoons (History) citing Huggins (2004), termed sports themed political cartoons "uniqu ely rich compressed narratives'" (p. 1303) Cao (2010) Hybrid (content) semiotic analysis Depictions of and semiotic analysis of "major signs" in a collection by Chinese artist Feng Zikai (Semiotics) "The process of moving from denotation to connotation in analyzing cartoons composed of both images and words requires the understanding of the relationship between images and words." (p. 253) Hung (1990) Historical case study Depictions of war and peace in the cartoons of Chinese artist Feng Zikai (Historic al Rhetoric) "To the historian, cartoons are an important source of information in at least two ways: as a faithful chronicle of the age and as a personal statement of the artist." (p. 39) Roesky and Kennephol (2008) Topical review Depictions of science a nd scientific discovery; role of humor in learning (Education) "cartoons have the power to both draw attention quickly and come to the point" (p. 1359) Samson and Huber (2009) Content analysis Determine differences in gender of cartoonist by use of form al structures (Psychology) Based on Differential Psychology


Anne W. Anderson, 2016 / Cro MENDA BlockIcon 3 The first building block : Altheide & Schneider's (2012) Ethnographic Content Analysis On the other hand, Altheide and Schneider's (2012) Ethnographic Content Analysis which initially had been developed to analyze broadcast news reports, recognized even "footpaths worn in the grass" (p. 7) as a document, and rested on concepts that seemed conducive to my study : ECA was based in Mead's theories of s ymbolic interaction (Blumer, 196 6 ), which posited creation as an in tentional act and suggested the researcher/ethnographer step into the role of the actor" (p. 542), in this case either the cartoonist or a character in the cartoon, to understand the process. [ See MapIcon fo r a discussion of underlying theories .] ECA recognized developing the protocol a s a part of the process of data collection The protocol needed to account for all possibilities in terms of elements, contexts, and combinations but all possibilities could not be known for sure until they were encountered. ECA termed data collection a recursive and an iterative process A discovery late in the process could change the protocol, which could be addressed retroactively. The protocol emerged as data was discovered. The second, third and fourth building blocks: Altheide and Schneider's (2012) method pr esumed a set topic and particular elements to be studied. My study searched for topics and noticed what elements were used to frame and comment on the topics. I found additional support for my method, especially in these areas: Contextual: Editorial cartoo ns as reflect ing the context of their times (Wineburg (2001) and of their creative and journalistic processes (McCloud, 2000; N avaksy, 2013) [ See WebIcon for a discussion of contexts .] Elemental: Editorial cartoons as consist ing of both artistic and litera ry elements ( Cuddon, 1999; Kiefer, 2010) interplayed with elements of humor ( Morris, 1989; Tsakona, 2009) [ See PuzzleIcon for a discussion of elements .] Narrative: Editorial cartoons as narrative and narrative as method (Herman, 2012; Bal, 2009/1985; Rose, 2012) The fifth building block: Rodriguez & Dimitrova's (2011) Four Levels of Visual Framing Altheide and Schneider's (2012) Ethnographic Content Analysis presumed a frame through which the topic was presented, but didn't elaborate on how that frame could be determined. Rodriguez and Dimitrova (2011) developed a four level approach to determining frame and ideological stance, from which I could provide informed comment on the cartoon's attempt to reflect and shape discourse. !"#"$%&'($)*( +","-./($( +%$01( 2%.1.&.-( 3#"(1'"(+%$01( 2%.1.&.-( 43/*$1"*5( !",6#"(1'"( +%$01( 2%.1.&.-( 3#"(1'"( !",6#"*( 7"%#6.)( !"18%)(1.( 2%",6.8#( 9$%1..)#( $)*(:;")*( Figure 2. Cro MENDA is based on a recursive and iterative method derived from Altheide and Schneider's (2012) method, Ethnographic Content Analysis.


Anne W. Anderson, 2016 / Cro MENDA BlockIcon 4 Cross modal ethnographic narrative document analysis (CroMENDA) provides a structured approach to identifying, selecting, and analyzing documents, defined by Altheide and Schneider (2012) as "any symbolic representation that can be recorded or retrieved for analysis" (p. 5), inclu ding such symbolic representations as "footpaths worn in grass, dog eared pages in books, and other unobtrusive indicators" (p. 7). Grounded in Iser's (2006) explanation of soft theory and based on Altheide and Schneider's (2012) ethnographic content analy sis, which they used to analyze television news footage, on Rodriguez and Dimitrova's levels of visual framing, and on Mead's theories of symbolic interaction (Blumer, 1996), I developed CroMENDA to understand editorial cartoons from two early 20 th century newspapers. I first wandered through the individual cartoons, following paths suggested by the elements within the cartoon, by the cultural context in which it was created, and by my own unique mental faculties and predispositions. I made field notes of m y wanderings, coded narratives describing the cross modal stylistic choices made by cartoonist, the cultural/historical context in which the cartoon was set, and my own suppositions as I placed myself in the position of the actor/cartoonist and/or of the r ole/character. I then pieced together the narratives to detect topics and to discern themes and to determine frames through which the topics and themes were presented. From this field note mapping and piecing together of narratives, I discussed ideological stances and discourses found in the collection References Altheide, D. L., & Schneider, C. J. (2012). Qualitative media analysis (2 nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Bal, M. (2009/1985). Narratology: Introduction to the theory of narrative (3 rd ed.). Toronto, CAN: University of Toronto Press. Bateman, J. A. (2008). Multimodality and genre: A foundation for the systematic analysis of multimodal documents. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan. Bivins, T. H. (1984). Format preferences in editorial cartoo ning. Journalism Quarterly, 61 (1), 182 185. Blumer, H. (1973). Sociological implications of the thought of George Herbert Mead. American Sociological Review, 71 (5), 535 544. Bush, L. (2013). More than words: Rhetorical constructs in American political car toons. Studies in American Humor, 3 (27), 63 91. Cohen K. (2011). Sport for grown children': American political cartoons, 1790 1850. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 (8 9), 1301 1318. Cao W. (2010). The mountains and the moon, the wil lows and the swallows: A hybrid semiotic analysis of Feng Zikai's "New paintings for old poems." International Journal of Comic Art, 12 (2 3), 251 267. Cudden, J.A. (1999) The Penguin dictionary of literary terms & literary theory (4th ed). Rev. C. E. Preston (Ed.). London, UK: Penguin. Hung, C. T. (1990). War and peace in Feng Zikai's wartime cartoons. Modern China, 16 (1), 39 83. Iser, W. (2006). How to do theory. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Lombard, M., Lent, J. A., Greenwood, L., & Tunc, A. (1999). A framework for studying comic art. The International Journal of Comic Art, 1 (1), 17 32. Rodriguez, L., & Dimitrova, D. (2011). The levels of visual framing. Journal of Visual Literacy, 30 (1), 48 65. Roes ky, H. W., & Kennepohl, D. (2008). Drawing attention with chemistry cartoons. Journal of Chemical Education, 85 (10), 1355 1360. Rose, G. (2012). Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials (3 rd ed.). London, UK: Sage. Samson, A. C., & Huber, O. (2007). The interaction of cartoonist's gender and formal features of cartoons. Humor, 20 (1), 1 25. Sloutsky, V. M., & Lo, Y. F. (1999). How much does a shared name make things similar? Part 1. Linguistic labels and the development of s imilarity judgment. Developmental Psychology, 35 (6), 1478 1492. Tsakona, V. (2009). Language and image interaction in cartoons: Toward a multimodal theory of humor. Journal of Pragmatics, 41 1171 1188. Wineburg, S. S. (2001). Historical thinking and other unnatural acts: Charting the future of teaching the past. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Yin, R. K. (2011). Qualitative research from start to finish New York, NY: Guilford.


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