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Laughing with knives

Exploring political cartoons 

Cover of unit of work: Laughing with knives

Curriculum areas: Australian history, media, arts

Years: 8–12

Key curriculum links: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture; Natural and Social Systems; Investigation, Communication and Participation.

Linked to the National Museum's 2002 political cartooning competition and the exhibition, Bringing the House Down 2002, this unit of work asks students to examine and analyse a number of political cartoons by learning how to 'read' cartoons.

The student activities included in this unit includes the following topics:

  • What is a 'political cartoon'?
  • Identifying the 'target' of a cartoon
  • Analysing the style of a cartoon
  • Working out the message of a cartoon
  • Should there be a limit to what cartoonists can say?
  • The emotional appeal of cartoons
  • Cartoons and democracy