Symposium puts spotlight on the influence of political cartoons

Old editorial cartoon on the Geneva negotiations and the prospect of a nuclear freeze

Educators, students, and members of the general public are invited to a free symposium on the influence of political cartoons.

The symposium, “No Laughing Matter: Political Cartoons and the Arkansas Historical Perspective,” is set for Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Little Rock Marriott Hotel and Statehouse Convention Center.

It will be hosted by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture.

John Deering, chief political cartoonist and illustrator for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is among the featured symposium panelists.

“The goal of the symposium is to not only educate audiences about the role political cartoons played during the course of Arkansas history, but also to speak to the wider role of economic, cultural, and historical development within the state,” said Deborah Baldwin, UALR associate provost.

The Nov. 3 schedule includes:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. “Persuasion, Comedy, and Politics: The Rhetorical Impact of Satire in Political Cartoons,” presented by George Jensen, UALR rhetoric and writing professor, and J. Bradley Minnick, UALR English professor
  • 9:10 to 10:10 a.m. “Illustrating History: Jon Kennedy and Historical Representation,” presented by Barclay Key, a UALR history professor, and John Deering, political cartoonist and illustrator for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
  • 10:20 to 11:20 a.m.“The Political Cartoonist as Entrepreneur: Arkansas Cartoonists Working Both Sides of Campaigns,” presented by Revis Edmonds, Department of Arkansas Heritage, Joseph Giammo, UALR political science professor, and John Deering
  • 4:10 to 5:10 p.m. “Modernizing History: Developing and Publishing a Virtual Exhibit for the Modern Student,” presented by Chad Garrett, UALR Collections and Archives, Shannon Lausch, UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, and Stan James, eSTEM Public Charter School

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture soon also will launch an online virtual exhibit. Once completed, the exhibit will feature drawings by cartoonists Bill Graham of the Arkansas Gazette (1948-1985) and Jon Kennedy of the Arkansas Democrat (1941-1988). The cartoons depict various topics and events from Arkansas’s history such as:

  • Voting
  • Education funding
  • School desegregation
  • Urbanization and economic development
  • Prison reform
  • Local gambling legislation

Web pages with lesson plans and other educational materials for teachers that have been designed to meet requirements of state social studies curriculums will be included in the exhibit.

The Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Center for Arkansas History and Culture a $10,424 grant to develop the exhibit and the related educational symposium.   

For more details on the symposium, contact the Center for Arkansas History and Culture at 501.320.5780.

Image in the upper right: Jon Kennedy editorial cartoon courtesy of the Center for Arkansas History and Culture. 

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