Historical Illustration as Narrative: A Critical Inquiry

Author(s): Theresa Schober

Year: 2016


The integration of research-driven results with visual media is an integral component of effective museum exhibitions, general interest publications and public programs in archaeology. Annual archaeology month activities, for example, often result in the design of posters to attract audiences and illustrate attributes of indigenous cultures. To what degree does this popular form of visual communication reflect contemporary theoretical perspectives on gender and identity rather than reinforce traditional biases? This paper explores how this imagery is developed, by whom, and the resultant portrayals of masculinity and femininity through a systematic analysis of visual representations of the Calusa of southwest Florida, an archaeologically and historically known chiefdom. In contrast with textual analysis of gender roles in historical documents and archaeological discourse, contemporary Western values weigh heavily in artistic execution, mediated through interaction with publishers, educators, administrators, and other stakeholders. This subconscious and overtly positivist messaging impacts the general public’s understanding of the complexities of gender roles in history where female depictions are both minimized and marginalized.

Cite this Record

Historical Illustration as Narrative: A Critical Inquiry. Theresa Schober. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403623)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;