Greek mythology and the British political cartoon
: a classical reception approach to the case study of Sisyphus

  • Louisa Elizabeth Buck

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This PhD research project critically considers the role of Greek mythology within the contemporary British political cartoon. It is made up of three interrelated elements: a four chaptered thesis, a practice-based illustrated journal related to the case study dedicated to the myth of Sisyphus and an annotated version of this journal. Together, Greek myth and British political cartoons examine the world and comment on contemporary times. As myth carries with it its own narratives from the time of its conception and its different receptions, this appropriation in the political cartoon functions as a visual metaphor for particular narratives and meanings. The thesis explores the various perspectives and histories relevant to this subject. In particular it examines sixty British political cartoons that feature the myth of Sisyphus from 1844 - 2017. The practice element of the research serves two purposes: the Illustrated Journal displays the classical reception of the Sisyphus case study within the framework of an imagined personal journal, highlighting the theories of Classical Reception borne out of Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. Its purpose is to serve as a device to both organise and peel back complex layers in order to reveal core concepts, stories and the central trauma. The Annotated Journal was originally conceived solely as a reference guide to the Illustrated Journal, but it has become more than that as it serves to act both as a tool to reveal the sources of the Sisyphus myth and the shifting perspectives associated with its interpretation. It also works to position it within western history, a variety of media and contemporary life. The Annotated Journal has therefore become the bridge that connects all of the elements of the research project together as it captures all of the data (the literary, art historical and graphic art sources) that informs both the practice and written elements.
    Date of AwardJun 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorFrank Gray (Supervisor) & George Hardie (Supervisor)

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