Feminine, Competent, Submissive: A Multimodal Analysis of Depictions of Women in U.S. Wartime Persuasive Messages During World War I and World War II

Easton Wollney, Miglena Sternadori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This analysis used Peirce's triadic approach to interpret 58 public depictions of women during the two world wars. The images, appearing in government posters or as ads and illustrations in U.S. magazines and newspapers, endeavored to convey the seriousness of the war effort and mobilize audiences to support it. Aligned in five thematic clusters (competence, domesticity, heterosexual attraction, beauty maintenance, and romantic longing), many invited polysemy through discrepant visual and verbal cues aimed at different audiences. Women as viewers and as objects of representation were addressed in the context of both citizenship and consumption. The analysis explicates ideological points about wartime gender relations and points to the objectification of women's bodies as implied sexual rewards for product purchase in WWII.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalVisual Communication Quarterly
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

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