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The poster and contemporary American propaganda




Craven, Deborah Mueh, author
Gravdahl, John, advisor
Tornatzky, Cyane, committee member
Fenton, Michael, committee member
Simons, Stephen, committee member
McDonald, Bradly, committee member

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Propaganda is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.; the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person; ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect. Throughout modern history, posters have been used as a vehicle to distribute propagandistic messaging. The period preceding World War I, through World War II is perhaps the most notable period of propaganda in American history. After 1945 however, nationalistic propaganda seemingly disappeared in the United States. Memorable national icons such as Uncle Sam (Fig. 1) and Rosie the Riveter (Fig. 2), and the messages to conserve for the troops, or plant victory gardens, were relegated to the realm of nostalgia. This thesis investigates the role of the poster in contemporary American propaganda. It addresses the link between the disappearance of the poster as a major vehicle for the dissemination of propagandistic messaging in connection with the increase of technology, and proposes that the poster has transitioned from a governmental communication tool, to a underground, "street art" driven conceptual vehicle, designed to challenge deeper thought about today's underlying issues rather than just presenting the same controlled information that we are bombarded with through mass media.


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