Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: “An Appeal to the Heart”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

“An Appeal to the Heart”

“An Appeal to the Heart”
-Charles Dana Gibson

In Chapter 6 “House of Truth” of PR!: A Social History of Spin, author Stuart Ewen discusses how the Committee on Public Information (CPI) used imagery as propaganda under the guidance of Charles Dana Gibson, an American graphic artist. Established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917, the CPI was a government agency geared towards gaining public support towards WWI. This was accomplished through print journalism and early films. However, Gibson proposed to extend the propaganda campaign through illustrations and symbolism which played upon the emotions of the American people. Gibson found that “One cannot create enthusiasm for the war on the basis of practical appeal” and that Americans cannot be influenced for war by only facts (Ewen, 122). In effect, he proposed that designed artwork for the CPI would “appeal to the heart” of Americans (Ewen, 122).
Gibson’s campaign of illustrations had a major impact on the American people during the being the explicit images were plastered in the heart and minds of people. The illustrations conveyed messages through metaphors , imagery, and sentiment. However, such portraits also played upon fear and created an outbreak of paranoia (Ewens, 123).


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post. The CPI quickly learned that propaganda was not just about facts and information. It was also very much about images and symbols.

Charles Dana Gibson is one of America's most famous illustrators. He defined the image of feminine beauty for a generation with his "Gibson girl" illustrations.

2/23/2009 10:17 PM  

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