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Techniques for analysing images in VCE History

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1 Techniques for analysing images in VCE History
Steve Thompson Westbourne Grammar School If you would like a copy of this Powerpoint, please me and I’ll get one to you somehow

2 Format for this presentation…
Pros and cons of using images The COMA process that I use Analysing images from three revolutions Different sources of images Images in the exam Sample image-based questions in the exam and possible responses Time to share

3 But first…

4 What are the pros and cons of using images in Revolutions?

5 The pros… They are primary evidence and offer a direct connection with the context studied They appeal to students who are less confident with text, eg. archaic language Analysing images utilises different skills and lateral thinking They offer scope for a broad range of individual and group tasks in class settings There are cross-curricular advantages, eg. study of issues in VCE English

6 The cons… Their primary nature can often be a short-coming in terms of the info they present Students struggle with the concepts of symbolism, satire and lampoonery Students often focus on the literal rather than the implied meanings of a source Students do not know historical symbols Students struggle to make links between points of analysis and prior knowledge

7 What process can be used? COMA
Content Origin Motive Audience

8 Content… Content is all about the literal material inside the image… what does the student ‘see’? Who or what is in the image? What is it / are they doing? Who do you think it might represent? What symbols do you see? What events are being represented?

9 Origin… Origin involves thinking about where the image came from – both when and whom When was the image made? Any clues? Any events you can reference? Any places shown or implied in the image? Any words? What are they? Language? Who might have created the image? What individual or group? Why might this be?

10 Motive… Motive is about identifying an image’s ideas and trying to evaluate its function What point-of-view is being expressed? What’s the tone: Serious? Critical? Satire? What does the creator want the viewer to think and/or to feel? How valid is this perspective, based on what you know?

11 Audience… Audience is about trying to evaluate who the image was aimed at Who might have been the target audience? What is a member of this audience presumed to know before seeing the image How successful was the image in conveying its ideas or assessments?

12 Let’s follow this process through three different images from three different revolutions…

13 Apotheosis of Washington
Content: Washington in centre wearing robes, a shroud? arms outstretched, allowing himself to be carried light from heaven beams down on him tombstone, “sacred to the memory of Washington”, etc. angels lift him up to heaven grieving Lady Liberty grieving Indian three grieving nuns? women? eagle, American shield liberty cap and pole armour, sword, bundle rods medallion

14 Apotheosis of Washington
Origin: obviously pro-Washington strong religious overtones uses many American symbols, so… probably American in origin relates to Washington’s death so circa 1799 Motive: grieves Washington elevates to almost god-like status creates myth about the revolution and its leaders perpetuates religious ideals nationalist in tone, celebrates America’s virtues shows country as united in its grief

15 Apotheosis of Washington
Audience: America after the revolution, still divided and in need of unity and commonality some Americans sceptical about whether the revolution has fulfilled its aims? viewer is presumed to know Washington and the many symbols present tone is not subtle historiographical analysis of Washington may not correspond with ideas presented in the image

16 Political pornography
Content: giant penis in centre being ridden by a member of the Second Estate, perhaps a military officer penis has legs and is in the form of an ostrich probably a play on Marie-Antoinette’s nationality (Austrian) could there be a link to Louis’ problems (phimosis)? l’Autrichienne (the Austrian bitch) she is affectionate towards the giant penis and/or its rider, perhaps symbolises a lover? Cupid / Eros is above, a sign of their love

17 Political pornography
Origin: during the 1780s when Marie-Antoinette’s popularity was low meant for public although is quite intricate, so perhaps more for salons than mobs perhaps bourgeois in origin Motive: to denigrate Marie-Antoinette and portray her as unfaithful, promiscuous, laviscious anti-Austrian overtones critical of excesses of royalty and nobility, a la Dangerous Liaisons

18 Political pornography
Audience: intended for people wanting satire and amusement as much as political comment audience probably already discontented with Marie-Antoinette, eg. political activity, Affair of the Necklace more satirical than angry so perhaps early to mid 1780s how valid were these criticisms of Marie-Antoinette?

19 Comrade Lenin cleans the world…
Content: Lenin with a broom atop the globe both his actions and the caption suggest he his cleaning the world Lenin wearing a suit and a boiler cap… dress that is respectable but has links to the proletariat two kings or tsars represented (crowns, ermine furs, medals) priest represented at bottom left (robes, headwear) capitalist represented at bottom (suit, top hat, bag of wealth, obese) the broom is red, the colour of communism Lenin seems to be smiling… he is enjoying the task the three classes being ‘cleaned’ are flailing and going reluctantly

20 Comrade Lenin cleans the world…

21 Comrade Lenin cleans the world…
Audience: probably proletariat audiences, those already with some support for the revolution some familiarity with the ideals and ambitions of the Bolsheviks is assumed perhaps also a warning to those three classes who are being targeted? to what extent was Lenin achieving these goals?

22 Some excellent images for analysis (see hand-out for locations):

23 American Revolution Images from before the American Revolution tend to criticise British attacks on the status quo or colonial rights… those during and after the revolution are more iconographic, concerned with leaders or nationalistic ideas

24 American Revolution Some images promoted unity (below) or celebrated America’s revolutionary spirit (left).

25 French Revolution The three estates are the most commonly-represented group in French Revolution images

26 French Revolution David’s image of the Tennis Court Oath (left) is the best-known image from the French Revolution. Images of liberty (top left) and Rousseau (top right) are more iconographic.

27 French Revolution Political pornography (left) focuses on personal attributes of the royal family. British images (top right, top left) highlight the radical and violent nature of the revolution.

28 Russian Revolution Old regime images often show the inequity (above) and the corruption (right) of the tsarist regime. More idealist images show the determined strength of the working people (left)

29 Russian Revolution Many images focus on the short-comings and the poor political leadership of the tsar including the Russo-Japanese War (top) or his pogroms against Jews (right)

30 Russian Revolution Bolshevik images are often idealistic about the new society, portraying their leaders and the proletariat as giants or kindly paternalists

31 How to prepare students
Regular exposure to images: post them around the classroom Develop a process for image analysis and coach students in how to use this 10-15 minutes at the end of a lesson is a good opportunity to look at an image and discuss its COMA … students can link to info covered within that lesson Homework sheets structured similarly to the exam (Section B, Part 1)

32 Image-based activities
“The making of…” Students work in groups of 4-8 and produce a video or role-play on a nominated image Working through COMA, they construct a docu-style ‘making of..’ about the image, with one student as its creator/artist Groups can work separately on the same image, or on different images

33 Image-based activities
“He said, she said…” Teacher constructs an A3 sized poster with an image in the centre… faces of key individuals are placed around the outside, speech balloons are placed on all faces Students fill in speech balloons for each face, responding to hints or directions from the teacher

34 Image-based activities
“Talking heads…” Similar process to “He said, she said…” except students use Powerpoint and ‘back’ the images with spoken commentary or narration Slides are then presented to the class for comparison and discussion… they can be merged and saved for later revision

35 Images in the exam It is possible that an image might appear in Section A, Part 2 and/or Section B, Part 1 of the end-of-year exam. Based on information provided by VCAA to date, these sources will be accompanied by structured questions with several parts.

36 Images in the exam Sample tasks provided thus far suggest that a laddered arrangement of skills will apply in each set of questions, eg. basic comprehension, eg. “what” is in the image demonstration of knowledge, eg. “identify” revolutionary ideas, “how” did the ideas in the image develop critical evaluation, eg. “how useful” is this source Mark allocations will rise in line with both the difficulty of questions and the length of the expected response

37 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774

38 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774 Question: What is suggested about colonial Americans in this representation? (2 marks) Answer: a. That the colonial Americans are surrounded, detained and treated harshly by Britain and its military forces. They are starving and forced into an almost barbaric state by their imprisonment.

39 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774 Question: b. Identify two details in the representation that shows anti-British feeling in the colonies? (2 marks) Answer: b. The colonists are denied their liberty and reduced to a state of starvation and disorder, due to the presence of British cannon and soldiers (bottom right) and naval blockade (left)

40 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774 Question: What revolutionary ideas are expressed in this representation? (2 marks) Answer: c. Liberty is perhaps the key idea, also natural rights (life, liberty and property) and colonial opposition to the presence of a standing army without their consent.

41 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774 Question: Using your knowledge, explain why this cartoon appeared (6 marks) Answer: d. This cartoon appeared because of the Coercive Acts (1774) which the Americans referred to as the ‘Intolerable Acts’ because they could not be endured. Some aspects of this legislation included the suspension of the Massachusetts assembly, the closure of Boston Harbour, the establishment of a naval patrol, extra troops and a new Quartering Act which required the Bostonians to house and feed them. Virtually living under martial law, Boston citizens held illegal town meetings, stepped up communication with other colonies and the production of propaganda like ‘Bostonians in Distress’ and ‘The Able Doctor, or America swallowing the bitter draught’, suggesting that a criminal denial of liberty was being committed.

42 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
American Revolution The Bostonians in Distress, 1774 Question: To what extent are the revolutionary ideas in this cartoon valid and justified? What other interpretations might exist? (8 marks) Answer: e. The revolutionary ideas expressed in the cartoon were valid, however many historians might suggest that the ‘distress’ of the Bostonians could be blamed on their own conduct up to Activities of Boston’s Sons of Liberty included destruction of personal and private property during the Stamp Act riots and 342 crates of tea destroyed during the Boston Tea Party; in addition, royal officials and appointees were harassed, threatened and burned in effigy, some were even assaulted or ‘tarred-and-feathered’. Marxist interpretations like those of Zinn and Jennings suggest that these incidents were sparked by elements of the colonial merchant-class, anxious to instigate separation from England to increase both their economic and political influence in their region.

43 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’ c.1900

44 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’, c.1900 Question: What conditions are represented in this representation? (2 marks) Answer: a. The conditions represented in the image is the strict hierarchy and the gross social, economic and political inequalities in Tsarist Russia.

45 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’, c.1900 Question: What revolutionary ideas are being expressed in this representation? (2 marks) Answer: b. Revolutionary ideas expressed include the lack of political representation, the exploitation of the peasant and working classes, and the misuse of the army.

46 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’, c.1900 Question: c. In what way is the church depicted in this representation? (2 marks) Answer: c. The church in the image and in Tsarist Russia was closely linked with the ruling order, supporting the Tsar’s ‘divine right’ and promoting loyalty among the peasantry.

47 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’, c.1900 Question: d. What factors have led to the creation of this representation? (6 marks) Answer: d. The growth of revolutionary ideas in Russia during the 1800s led to a new consciousness about the inequality of the Tsarist system. The Tsar’s refusal to undertake political reforms, his use of the army and a secret police (Okhrana) to deal with dissenters, the inequitable wealth of the land-owning classes (shown as greedy and obese in the image) and the oppressive conditions of the peasantry and industrial workers were all potentially revolutionary factors. A rise in groups such as the Narodniks and Social Democrats represented the interests of the lower classes, while liberal groups such as the Kadets emerged from the middle-classes to push for political reforms.

48 Let’s work through a couple of images and exam questions….
Russian Revolution ‘The Tsar’s wedding cake’, c.1900 Question: e. Explain the usefulness of this representation in explaining why revolution occurred in Russia in 1917? (8 marks) Answer: e. The inequality of Russia was an underlying factor in creating revolution, however it took crises to weaken Tsarism for revolution to occur. Inequality had existed in Russia for centuries, however through its control of the army, propaganda and information, and the support of the church, Tsarism was generally able to protect its hold on power. Only when economic crisis combined with war and revolutionary movements, such as in 1905 and then in 1917, was Tsarism threatened. Consequently the ideas in the image were not critical in causing revolution, mainly because numbers of urban workers were not large enough to topple the Tsar; the peasantry was too diverse, too divided and scattered and had little ‘revolutionary consciousness’. Marxist historians suggest that class inequality results in exploitation of the proletariat, so would view inequality as a significant cause of revolution in Russia.

49 Time to share….

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