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Reading between the lines

Front cover unit of work

Curriculum areas: Australian history, English, media, arts

Years: 8–12

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

How do you create a good political cartoon? In this unit of work students consider how cartoonists work. They identify a number of key elements that exist in good political cartoons, and see examples of them from the National Museum of Australia's 2007 display of Australia's most popular political cartoons. Elements explored include:

  • caricature
  • audience
  • subject and style
  • symbolism or visual metaphor
  • context
  • stereotyping
  • captioning
  • tone

Finally, students put their understanding of all these elements together to analyse a cartoon from the 2007 federal election.

During 2008, the National Museum of Australia again ran its annual political cartooning competition. Students were encouraged to use this unit of work as a stimulus to creating their own cartoon and to enter it in the Museum's 2008 cartooning competition.