Studying the Image as Propaganda

By James Donald Ragsdale and Frances E. Brandau.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 26, 2014 $US5.00

This paper proceeds from a definition of propaganda as a distorted form of persuasion. It, then, classifies images as forms of visual persuasion using a semiotic approach, wherein images are classified as icons and indexes, then they are considered to what extent they are or may become items of propaganda, by examining a variety of historical examples of image manipulation. The paper studies examples both of still and of moving images, with special attention in the latter case to cinematic montage. It also considers the significance of the juxtaposition of visual images in advertising through Paul Messaris’s notion of syntactic indeterminacy. Finally, the paper concludes with an inquiry into the possibility that all images are necessarily propagandistic, using the idea that the very act of framing an image is a type of distortion.

Keywords: Persuasion, Propaganda, Icons, Indexes, Syntactic Indeterminacy, Montage

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 309.290KB)).

Dr. James Donald Ragsdale

Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Studies, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA

J. Donald Ragsdale is the author of four books on the subject of structures as visual persuasion, especially the art museums of the US and Western Europe. He is a professor of communication studies and the chair of the Department at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, USA. He is the editor of the Southern Communication Journal. His primary area of specialty is the semiotics of visual communication.

Dr. Frances E. Brandau

Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA

Frances E. Brandau-Brown is a contributor to Structures as Argument: The Visual Persuasiveness of Museums and Places of Worship, edited by J. Donald Ragsdale. She has also published widely in such journals as Journal of Family Communication, Southern Communication Journal, and Communication Quarterly. Her primary area of interest is interpersonal and family communication. She is a professor of communication studies and the director of Graduate Studies at Sam Houston State University, and president of the Southern States Communication Association.