After deciding on the topic that I was interested in for this project, I found that there were a lot of steps and obstacles that I needed to overcome in order to complete it. Through these obstacles, however, I further developed my knowledge on the subject of my choice as well as discovered new ways of viewing specific pieces of my project. In this blog, I would like to focus on my project and the process that it took to complete it.
When I first began to develop the questions and hypothesis for my research, I had a completely different idea of what I desired to talk about. Originally, I wanted to figure out how The Cuban Melodrama, a political cartoon produced in 1895 by C.J. Taylor, reflected the relationships between the Spanish, American, and Cuban societies during the Spanish-American War. To answer this question simply, my hypothesis included the idea that this particular cartoon over-exaggerated the relationships between the respective societies and ultimately altered the perspectives of the citizens within these societies. From these ideas, I wrote a research paper solely based around the different aspects of The Cuban Melodrama and found that I did not have enough information or interest to complete an entire research project on this one political cartoon. This is when I began to feel discouraged and on the verge of giving up. However, an idea soon came to mind through the help of my teacher. After reading through my research project, I realized that I had an interest in a certain part of my paper that focused on the gender politics of the time of the war. In the political cartoon that I chose, Cuba, a major factor in the Spanish-American War, is displayed as a woman while the Spanish and United States are presented as men. From this observation, I began to look at other political cartoons at the time and found this similar trend of Cuba being portrayed as a woman. Although it was not an original idea and I had to start over in some ways, this new observation allowed me to find a different approach to my research project.
Since finding this new piece of interest, I had to restructure my whole project in order to answer my new question: How did gender politics impact the political cartoons during the Spanish-American War and affect the perspectives of the given societies. For my hypothesis, I basically stated that the United States, Spain, and Cuba utilized gender politics in the media to persuade their societies of their respective perspectives. Through this new perspective, I hoped to use multiple political cartoons, mostly from the American media as well as a few from the Spanish and Cuban media, in order to show how much gender politics really was employed to portray the relationships between the two imperial powers and Cuba. This not only provided more information to analyze for my project, but also made my project personally more interesting for myself. Continually, I thought it was really cool to see how the media would use real-life situations in order to portray their views as well as look at other political cartoons from the other countries involved. So, even though it was a challenge to restructure and recreate my project, I think that it was for the best and made my project more interesting personally for me to write.
Through this process, I learned multiple new aspects including things about myself as well as things about what we have been learning in my humanities core class. After doing multiple essay throughout this school year, I realized that whenever we had the choice, I would enjoy doing visual analysis essays over literary analysis. More specifically, I really enjoyed analyzing these political cartoons and looking at the deeper meanings that they were supposed to reflect. I realized that, throughout this process, I would have my own idea of what the cartoons were depicting and after further research of the cartoons, I would either be spot on or completely wrong. As for my humanities core class, I expanded my knowledge on the idea of imperialism as my subject allowed me to analyze a specific example in which imperial powers were attempting to take control of a country. Although I faced some challenges and set backs, I found this research project to be one of my favorite writing activities throughout the whole year.
Thanks for reading!