Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Ran Wei


This dissertation proposes a typology of the frames that uniquely characterize political cartoons, including first-order, second-order and overarching frames. It then proposes a model of the frame building process in political cartoons based on framing influences, first-order frames, rhetorical themes, framing devices and overarching frames. This model of frame building is tested in a content analysis of 496 political cartoons of Barack Obama covering the time from his presidential candidacy through his first year as president. The proposed frames and identified framing devices are analyzed against the different stages of Obama's campaign and presidency as well as the ideological slants of the cartoonists. Results showed that cartoonists tended to focus on politicking during Obama's campaign, but addressed policy during his presidency. Results also showed that cartoonists tended to portray news in their cartoons of Obama as part of a theme or broader narrative. Implications of this frame-building model on framing theory are discussed.