Inventing David Low : self-presentation, caricature and the culture of journalism in mid-twentieth century Britain

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This essay examines cartoonist David Low's various public self-portrayals between the 1920s and 1950s both as a study of Low's self-invention as a public figure and as a window into twentieth-century understandings of the function of journalists. These self-portrayals included both relatively abstract discussions of caricature as a craft, various autobiographical writings (culminating in Low's Autobiography (1957)), and self-caricatures in cartoons. Collectively, they reveal that, despite attempts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to transform journalism into a well-defined profession or a trade, the narrative of journalism as an open and fluid profession remained salient. At the same time, journalism had gained sufficient prestige that even a caricaturist attempting to project himself as an 'artist' found it compelling to argue that his artistry enabled his practice as a 'journalist'. Low's portrayal of the 'artist as journalist', moreover, championed a particular vision of journalism, an 'educational' ideal of the press that appeared increasingly anachronistic in the age of the mass-circulation press. In Low's telling, caricature offered a way of conveying complex political positions in an ostensibly simple medium. Alongside the advantages of his medium, Low claimed personal qualities, chiefly an antipodean independence and common sense, that accounted for his success as a journalist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-512
Number of pages31
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

Fingerprint

Journalists
Self-presentation
Caricature
Journalism
Portrayal
Artist
Autobiography
Autobiographical Writing
Education
Ideal
Caricaturist
Prestige
Invention
Common Sense
1950s
Salient
Public Figures
Cartoon
1920s
Artistry

Cite this

@article{7b19e6a189b540f5af503379b0d6a647,
title = "Inventing David Low : self-presentation, caricature and the culture of journalism in mid-twentieth century Britain",
abstract = "This essay examines cartoonist David Low's various public self-portrayals between the 1920s and 1950s both as a study of Low's self-invention as a public figure and as a window into twentieth-century understandings of the function of journalists. These self-portrayals included both relatively abstract discussions of caricature as a craft, various autobiographical writings (culminating in Low's Autobiography (1957)), and self-caricatures in cartoons. Collectively, they reveal that, despite attempts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to transform journalism into a well-defined profession or a trade, the narrative of journalism as an open and fluid profession remained salient. At the same time, journalism had gained sufficient prestige that even a caricaturist attempting to project himself as an 'artist' found it compelling to argue that his artistry enabled his practice as a 'journalist'. Low's portrayal of the 'artist as journalist', moreover, championed a particular vision of journalism, an 'educational' ideal of the press that appeared increasingly anachronistic in the age of the mass-circulation press. In Low's telling, caricature offered a way of conveying complex political positions in an ostensibly simple medium. Alongside the advantages of his medium, Low claimed personal qualities, chiefly an antipodean independence and common sense, that accounted for his success as a journalist.",
author = "Mark HAMPTON",
year = "2009",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1093/tcbh/hwp044",
language = "English",
volume = "20",
pages = "482--512",
journal = "Twentieth Century British History",
issn = "0955-2359",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "4",

}

Inventing David Low : self-presentation, caricature and the culture of journalism in mid-twentieth century Britain. / HAMPTON, Mark.

In: Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 20, No. 4, 01.12.2009, p. 482-512.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

TY - JOUR

T1 - Inventing David Low : self-presentation, caricature and the culture of journalism in mid-twentieth century Britain

AU - HAMPTON, Mark

PY - 2009/12/1

Y1 - 2009/12/1

N2 - This essay examines cartoonist David Low's various public self-portrayals between the 1920s and 1950s both as a study of Low's self-invention as a public figure and as a window into twentieth-century understandings of the function of journalists. These self-portrayals included both relatively abstract discussions of caricature as a craft, various autobiographical writings (culminating in Low's Autobiography (1957)), and self-caricatures in cartoons. Collectively, they reveal that, despite attempts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to transform journalism into a well-defined profession or a trade, the narrative of journalism as an open and fluid profession remained salient. At the same time, journalism had gained sufficient prestige that even a caricaturist attempting to project himself as an 'artist' found it compelling to argue that his artistry enabled his practice as a 'journalist'. Low's portrayal of the 'artist as journalist', moreover, championed a particular vision of journalism, an 'educational' ideal of the press that appeared increasingly anachronistic in the age of the mass-circulation press. In Low's telling, caricature offered a way of conveying complex political positions in an ostensibly simple medium. Alongside the advantages of his medium, Low claimed personal qualities, chiefly an antipodean independence and common sense, that accounted for his success as a journalist.

AB - This essay examines cartoonist David Low's various public self-portrayals between the 1920s and 1950s both as a study of Low's self-invention as a public figure and as a window into twentieth-century understandings of the function of journalists. These self-portrayals included both relatively abstract discussions of caricature as a craft, various autobiographical writings (culminating in Low's Autobiography (1957)), and self-caricatures in cartoons. Collectively, they reveal that, despite attempts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to transform journalism into a well-defined profession or a trade, the narrative of journalism as an open and fluid profession remained salient. At the same time, journalism had gained sufficient prestige that even a caricaturist attempting to project himself as an 'artist' found it compelling to argue that his artistry enabled his practice as a 'journalist'. Low's portrayal of the 'artist as journalist', moreover, championed a particular vision of journalism, an 'educational' ideal of the press that appeared increasingly anachronistic in the age of the mass-circulation press. In Low's telling, caricature offered a way of conveying complex political positions in an ostensibly simple medium. Alongside the advantages of his medium, Low claimed personal qualities, chiefly an antipodean independence and common sense, that accounted for his success as a journalist.

UR - http://commons.ln.edu.hk/sw_master/2150

U2 - 10.1093/tcbh/hwp044

DO - 10.1093/tcbh/hwp044

M3 - Journal Article (refereed)

VL - 20

SP - 482

EP - 512

JO - Twentieth Century British History

JF - Twentieth Century British History

SN - 0955-2359

IS - 4

ER -