Chapter published in:Multimodal Argumentation and Rhetoric in Media Genres
Edited by Assimakis Tseronis and Charles Forceville
[Argumentation in Context 14] 2017
► pp. 138–164
Perspective by incongruity
Visual argumentative meaning in editorial cartoons
In this chapter, we identify the visual structures of cartoons that enable cartoonists to evoke visual argumentation. For a cartoon to convey opinions or opinions with arguments, a prerequisite is that its visual (or verbal) structures evoke some kind of incongruity. We demonstrate how a particular class of cartoons – ones we call multi-domain cartoons, evoke such incongruities and how the readers, in order to resolve these incongruities, build argumentative interpretations. These kinds of interpretations relate systematically to the cartoon’s multi-domain structure and to the kinds of foreknowledge competent and reasonable readers are assumed to bring to the task of grasping a cartoon’s meaning. Because cartoons constitute a highly contextualized rhetorical genre, visual and verbal structures reveal the specific foreknowledge anticipated by the cartoonist. This qualifies argumentative interpretations based on foreknowledge as deliberate. We therefore conclude that the perceived argumentation is not invented by the audience, but anticipated by the cartoonist.
Published online: 20 December 2017
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