Textual Coverage vs. Visual Images of Chemical Weapons in the British Press from 1915-1918

Pages: 8 (3024 words) Published: December 24, 2012
Dr. Zoghlami Hanan

Textual Coverage versus Visual images of chemical weapons in the British Press (1915_1918)

Islem Hammami Marwa Bouani Nadia Rouabeh

Textual Coverage versus Visual images of chemical weapons in the British Press (1915_1918)

I. Artistic production: Visual images:
1. Historical overview
2. Types of images: Printed images of chemical weapons
a) Cartoons
b) Photographs
c) Posters
II. Textual coverage of chemical weapons: a cogent means? III. “Mute witnesses”: a new propaganda machine during the Gas War? IV. The interrelationship between the verbal and the visual V. Some illustrations of interpreted visual images in the British press during the First World War Conclusion

Textual Coverage versus Visual images of chemical weapons in the British Press (1915_1918)

The advent of the Gas during the First World War proved to be an armament of total war dividing it into three major phases during which the Britons as part of the Allied forces were affected to a great amount physically, emotionally as well as mentally until the decision for retaliation took place. Every segment of the British society whispered about their respirators the only way for them to survive in chaotic environment of poisonous and asphyxiating gasses. Children, adults, politicians and soldiers were altogether trained to wear masks for fear to suffocate till death in the silence of a murderous war. Yet, this terrible and alarming situation under which lived the Britons for almost 4 years did not prevent journalists and artists from accomplishing their vocation. Distressed though they were from this vile weapon, they never missed room to insist upon their devotion, determination and their foe’s condemnation. Depending on the interchangeability of both the visual and the verbal, they portrayed the British society in their art as both rendering the gas as a symptom of the enemy’s inhumanity and raising the debate towards a call for an inevitable gas taboo in the interwar years. VI. Artistic production: Visual images:

1. Historical overview:
The discovery of the concept of ‘genius ‘in the Renaissance conception of Art transcends its aesthetic function to be the ‘gift of God ‘that shapes one‘s personality beyond tradition, theories and rules…Yet with the creation of schools of art, these schools’ patrons rule, that is, artists who are supposedly genius by nature, were throughout history inclined not to follow their muse but the context and the institutions by which they are trapped in their societies. Art is then not a matter of talent but rather a social and political artistic production. The artistic innovation is then turned to the other side and becomes politicized, socialized and institutionalized. A mere examination of the history of art particularly visual images reveals their use as potential historical evidence in order to portray considerably the political events, economic trends, and social structures. However, historians have not only limited their field of interest at these trends but also they went further to scrutinize the history of mentalities, of culture and that of everyday life. In the past, historians did not give enough interest to visual evidence because they rather preferred to deal with texts, that is, written evidence .Thus we find out that there is only a minority of historians who worked on photographs through archives compared to those who work on written or typewritten documents. In an essay describing his discovery of Victorian photographs Raphael Samuel described himself and other social historians of his generation as “visually illiterate”. Furthermore, pictures and photographs as historical evidence...
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