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Muhammad as Representative Form: A Visual Rhetorical Analysis of the Danish Cartoon Controversy

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abstract
The Danish cartoon controversy poses a useful case for communication scholars to examine how political speech acts and social debate flourish in a world with globalized media. Working from Edwards and Winkler’s theory of the representative form, I argue that the central Muhammad character in the cartoons functions ideographically, creating an ideological interpretation of Islam that invites public debate over its tenets. Using Olson and Goodnight’s work on social controversy, I track how this debate evolves from the initial publication of the cartoons to become an international conflict, organized around two main topoi—freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Given the diversity of reactions seen across the globe, I conclude that the Muhammad cartoons highlight how culturally specific rhetorical performances can have important effects on public discourse outside of their original contexts. The event gives us the chance to study how social conflicts will play out between the West and the rest of the world, which will no doubt continue with increasing frequency given our current trajectory.
subject
visual rhetoric
political cartoons
Muhammad cartoons
Danish Cartoon Controversy
contributor
Reed, Andrea (author)
Beasley Von Burg, Alessandra (committee chair)
Zulick, Margaret (committee member)
Furia, Peter (committee member)
date
2009-05-08T18:35:08Z (accessioned)
2010-06-18T18:57:37Z (accessioned)
2009-05-08T18:35:08Z (available)
2010-06-18T18:57:37Z (available)
2009-05-08T18:35:08Z (issued)
degree
Communication (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/14705 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
rights
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide. (accessRights)
title
Muhammad as Representative Form: A Visual Rhetorical Analysis of the Danish Cartoon Controversy
type
Thesis

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