Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Pictures, Persuasion, Propaganda: Images of War in America's First Pre-emptive Conflict

Dr. Mary Ellen Schiller.

This paper emerges from an interest in and recognition of the power of visual images in mass media to influence public opinion during times of military conflict. It involves the descriptive deconstruction and comparative analysis of front page photographs featured in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times over a six-week period in March and April, 2003. The photos record events in the days leading up to the U.S.- initiated conflict in Iraq and during the major early engagements up to and including the fall of Baghdad.

The analysis is framed by the recognition that beyond the acknowledged and obvious modes of war-related propaganda lie those that may be distinguished in the vast realm of mass-mediated messages constituting the major bodies of information with which contemporary people construct their visions of reality. Further, and significantly, it is informed by French theorist Jacques Ellul's concept of integrative propaganda as articulated in his seminal work "Propaganda: The formation of men’s attitudes (1965)". According to Ellul, integrative propaganda characteristically seeks not to “agitate” the public, but rather to “integrate” individuals into groups or masses inclined to think and behave in ways that serve the interests, vitality and ongoing viability of powerful entities, including government.


Dr. Mary Ellen Schiller  (United States)
Associate Professor, Assistant Director
School of Communication
Roosevelt University

Dr. Mary Ellen Schiller is an Associate Professor and Assistant Director of the School of Communication at Roosevelt University of Chicago, Illinois. In addition to teaching on undergraduate and graduate levels, she has a background in writing, publishing and marketing.

  • War-related propaganda
  • Integrative propaganda
  • Construction of reality

(Virtual Presentation, English)