Kid President: The Aesthetics of Childhood in Political Cartoons

  • Tran Nguyen Templeton University of North Texas
  • Chris Moffett
Keywords: children, childhoods, political cartoons, visual discourse, aesthetics, Donald Trump, USA, borders

Abstract

Since the 2016 US presidential election, a number of political cartoons have been produced that depict Donald Trump as an infant or toddler. He is drawn in diapers and with any number of objects we associate with young children, as well as engaging in behaviours such as crying, whining, and melting down. As a genre, the political cartoon offers complex readings, yet this particular phenomenon, in its repeated renderings, seems to signal just as much, if not more, animosity toward children than toward Trump. The question is, who is the real object of critique in these visual displays? What are the assumptions that cartoonists have about children, and how is the child deployed in and through these images? In this work, we examined thirty political cartoons depicting Trump as an infant or toddler, along with related artifacts, dating from 2015 to 2018. We discuss the ways that the cartoonists rely on stereotyped affects and behaviours of childhood to express purportedly progressive notions of equity. The effect of this growing archive of images, however, may betray those objectives, instead enacting power over the figure of the child.

 

DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2019.0015

Author Biographies

Tran Nguyen Templeton, University of North Texas

Tran Nguyen Templeton is an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Studies at the University of North Texas. Her research lies at the intersection of early childhood education, critical childhood studies, and visual sociology. She focuses on young children’s co-constructions of identity as told in and through their photographic practices, as well as the ways adults conceptualize school practices in relation to childhoods.

Chris Moffett

Chris Moffett is Visiting Assistant Professor in Art Education at the University of North Texas. His research interests lie in material inquiry, play, and the aesthetics and embodied spatial practices of education in the Anthropocene. His current work focuses on notions of art, play, and children in early childhood education in Anji, China.

Published
2020-02-12
How to Cite
Templeton, T. N., & Moffett, C. (2020). Kid President: The Aesthetics of Childhood in Political Cartoons. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 11(2), 14-34. Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/490
Section
Articles for Special Issue on Borders