Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Art History

First Advisor

Baskind, Samantha

Subject Headings

World War I -- Posters -- United States, Women -- Posters -- United States, Women -- United States -- Social conditions, War posters, American, Women in advertising -- United States, World War I, War posters, American women

Abstract

Like Britain and continental Europe, the United States would utilize the war poster to garner both funding and public support during World War I. While war has historically been considered a masculine endeavor, a relatively large number of these posters depict the female form. Although the use of women in American World War I propaganda may not initially seem problematic, upon further inspection it becomes clear that her presence often served to promote racial and national pretentiousness. Based on the works of popular pre-war illustrators like Howard Chandler Christy and Charles Dana Gibson, the American woman was the most attractive woman in the world. Her outstanding wit, beauty and intelligence amde her the only suitable mate for the supposed racially superior American man. With the onset of war, however, the once entertaining romantic scenarios in popular monthlies and weeklies now represented what America stood to lose, and the "American Girl" would make the transition from magazine illustration to war poster with minimal alterations. As the war raged on, many Americans began to express fear about the possibility of German invasion, and the American woman became threatened by a perceived racially inferior force. While countless posters would explicitly address this concern, others would more subtly claim the American female as the rightful property of the American man

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