The Archive and Political Cartooning

Cartoons have chronicled the history of polarizing political rhetoric throughout major shifts in US politics. When US Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and other noteworthy Democrats shifted their allegiances to the Republican party in the early 1960s, cartoonists captured the swing of the political pendulum. Using Strom Thurmond’s personal papers in the Strom Thurmond Collection (part of Clemson University’s Special Collections & Archive), this study examines 16 political cartoons depicting Thurmond’s party switch from his own archive. A content analysis of these cartoons illustrates a focus on setting and character affect as polarizing political rhetoric, plot cues indicating Thurmond’s role as a catalyst in the party switch, and narrator depictions of Southern-ness as central to the time period. In addition, special attention is given to several cartoons which are signed originals provided to the senator by the cartoonists.

This article can be read in full on the journal’s website or downloaded here.

McArthur, J.A. (2020). Cartoons and Polarizing Political Rhetoric: A History of the Party Switch of 1964 as told through the Strom Thurmond Collection Cartoons Series. Carolinas Communication Annual, 36, 24-35.

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