G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Cartoon Fables : Animal Symbolism in Kukryniksy’s Pravda Political Cartoons, 1965–1982

List of Authors: Kangas Reeta
Publisher: University of Turku
Place: Turku
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: ISBN 978-951-29-6714-8
eISBN: ISBN 978-951-29-6715-5


Recent  conflicts 
have  highlighted  that 
international  and  domestic 
propaganda  campaigns, particularly  in 
Russia,  are  once 
again  becoming  more 
significant.  To  understand 
this phenomenon, it is important to study the historical roots of
propaganda in Russia, the tools and  
mechanisms   that   propagandists   use  
to   influence   the  
political   discourse.   Animal symbolism is one of the most
important of these tools. It is often used to belittle the enemy by  describing 
their  “non-human”  nature. 
Furthermore,  in  using 
animals  to  depict 
negative characteristics  of  their 
enemies,  propaganda  also 
inadvertently  builds  upon 
and  develops negative cultural
stereotypes that are associated with those animals, thus creating a sort of feedback
loop wherein the one strengthens the other. 

This  dissertation 
examines  the  ways 
in  which  the 
famous  Soviet  propaganda 
artist  trio Kukryniksy  used 
animal  symbolism  in 
their  political  cartoons 
published  during  the 
rule  of Leonid Brezhnev
(1965—1982). The primary material of the research consists of 117 animal cartoons   that  
were   published   in  
the   Soviet   Union’s  
main   news   source,  
Pravda. Methodologically  and  in 
its  theoretical  approach, 
this  dissertation  draws 
from  a  range 
of multidisciplinary  fields,  including 
Russian  Studies,  Propaganda 
Studies,  Art  History, 
and Human-Animal  Studies.  Its 
theoretical  approach  is 
largely  based  on 
frame  theory  and cartoon theory. The thesis is mainly
based on qualitative methods. It relies on composition and discourse analysis,
paying particular attention to how the cartoons worked within and reinforced
preexisting cultural frameworks. There is also a quantitative element based
around a content analysis of the frequency of various elements in the

The  analysis 
of  the  frames 
Kukryniksy  created  and 
the  techniques  they 
used,  shows  that their animal symbols derived their
significance from the animals’ proximity to the humans’ sphere  of 
living,  their  behavioural 
traits,  utilitarian  functions, 
and  linguistic  and 
cultural nuances.   With   the  
use   of   culturally  
dependent   references   and  
different   cartooning techniques,
Kukryniksy constructed a framework in which the animal metaphor revealed the “true”
nature of the enemy and taught the audience the moral of the story of
international politics. As such, Kukryniksy’s political cartoons are part of a
long tradition of Russian and Soviet propaganda that used animal symbolism to
describe the enemy and divide the world into two spheres, “us” and “them”. By
analysing this historical propaganda, this dissertation thus   also  
helps   us   to  
better   understand   and  
deconstruct   contemporary   propaganda campaigns.

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Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 23:13