Year 3 PhD Candidate Chinese Studies, University of Edinburgh
Revolution in Paint: A Semiotic Reading of Cultural Revolution Propaganda Posters and Female Motivated Violence (1966-1968)
Revolution in Paint: A Semiotic Reading of Cultural Revolution Propaganda Posters and Female Motivated Violence (1966-1968) This paper looks at one of the means of communication during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (CR): propaganda posters. This research builds on existing historical and descriptive scholarship by looking at the visual grammar and semiotics that construct the internal messages of the posters. By adapting the theories of Kress and Van Leeuwen (2002, 2006) that images can be ‘read’ like any other text through distinct visual grammatical rules, the construction of meaning is broken down into the semiotic categories: iconography, semantics, and pragmatics. These categories are then used to analyse posters from 1966-1968 and specifically hone in on the interaction and communication with the female audience and their motivation towards violence. Records of an increase in female perpetrated violence during this three-year period consists primarily of anecdotal and memoir based information; my research explores how this aspect of female motivational violence is represented in posters through internal constructions of meanings to add another angle to this heretofore understudied phenomenon. By looking at the motivation of women and the messages about violence this research attempts to link government communication and commendation of the violence with the ideas of a potential increase in females committing violent acts during this short burst of revolution in the name of Mao. The paper will present my initial findings and concentrate on the final of the three grammatical categories, pragmatic deixis, to explain the theoretical underpinnings of my research.