Early twentieth century, gender representation, women s movement, multimodal text, World War I Poster Artists, George Creel, Pictorial Publicity, Committee on Public Information, The Christy Girl, Kress and van


This thesis explores the development of a series of posters created by Howard Chandler Christy during the World War I era. During this time, Christy was a Department of Pictorial Publicity (DPP) committee artist commissioned by the committee chair, Charles Dana Gibson. The DPP was part of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) developed by the Woodrow Wilson administration to generate the propaganda necessary to gain the support of the American people to enter World War I. The CPI was headed up by George Creel, a journalist and politician, who used advertising techniques to create the first full-scale propaganda effort in United States history. American poster images of women during World War I represent an era when propaganda posters came of age. These iconographic interpretations depicted in political propaganda helped shape the history of the twentieth century. While exploring these portrayals of women, the observer looks through a historical lens to contemplate the role of propaganda in the American war effort, while considering the disparity between images of women and the reality of their experiences in the patriarchal society in which they lived. Howard Chandler Christy's war-related posters represented the gendered rhetoric of a social order that functioned under the well-established assumption that men and women both had their place in society based on gender-specific stereotypic characteristics. Women were central to propaganda posters from this era; their images were widely used in posters encouraging Americans to support the war effort. With few exceptions, these representations perpetuated traditional concepts of appropriate gender roles. Posters often used women as icons characterizing the nation in time of war. For example, a beautiful woman, with a backdrop of the United States flag or sometimes even dressed in Old Glory, suggested why the nation was fighting. Some posters explicitly used beautiful women to signify that America's honor was at stake and we needed fighting men to protect it. The poster art form spread rapidly during the early twentieth century, putting a woman in her place rather than challenging the historical circumstances that created the complex, problematic issues related to the visual representation. Reading these posters as cultural texts, it is apparent that women's images are central to gaining an understanding of the social norms and cultural expectations.


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Graduation Date





Kitalong, Karla


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Graduate Studies


Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies

Degree Program

Liberal Studies








Release Date

July 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)