Swain (2012) Analysing Evaluation in Political Cartoons


The paper uses appraisal theory to map some of the richly complex visual and verbal resources for making evaluative meanings in political cartoons, and to capture how distinctive patterns of those resources create different interpersonal styles, or evaluative keys. It thereby addresses a gap in the cartoon literature, where claims about point of view, persuasive effects and style are often intuitive, rather than based on systematic analysis. The tools of verbal and visual appraisal analysis and the concept of evaluative key are explained. Some proposals are offered concerning the specific contribution of visual-verbal interaction to evaluation. Detailed appraisal analyses and discussion of three cartoons illustrate the different configurations of appraisal resources realising the evaluative key of each, and how evaluative meanings and viewer alignment depend on multiple interactions between visual and verbal appraisal and ideation. Three types of evaluative key are proposed: observer voice, jester voice and indicter voice.

Citation Elizabeth Swain (2012). Analysing Evaluation in Political Cartoons. Discourse, Context & Media, vol. 1 no. 2-3, pp. 82–94. URL

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Swain, Elizabeth},
doi = {10.1016/j.dcm.2012.09.002},
issn = {2211-6958},
journal = {Discourse, Context & Media},
number = {2-3},
pages = {82--94},
publisher = {Elsevier},
title = {{Analysing Evaluation in Political Cartoons}},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2012.09.002},
volume = {1},
year = {2012}

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