Atomic Reactions Opening Reception and Lecture: On Comics and Visual Culture

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Join us for the official opening of Atomic Reactions at the TU Delft Library! Enjoy a visual analysis lecture of political cartoons on nuclear science by Joost Schilperoord, get a guided tour of the exhibition and toast with us on this intriguing, multidisciplinary project.

Lecture: On Comics and Visual Culture

‘People look at nuclear energy differently, depending on how the energy transition proceeds: Germany is closing nuclear power plants and now we want to build them again. That makes it fascinating to draw about, so as a draughtsman, I can still go forward.’ As quoted by cartoonist Tom (Trouw, a.o.) when asked about his political cartoons concerning nuclear subjects.

The public’s opinion on nuclear subjects has an eventful past in the Netherlands. From scientist’s optimism to the public’s protest and from the environmentalists’ fear of an ecological disaster to business’s fear for an economic nosedive. Nuclear energy, science and weapons are much discussed and disputed topics in media. Many political cartoons have been drawn about it in the past decades.

In this lecture we will look into a visual analysis of political cartoons published in Dutch newspapers and magazines between the 1950s and now. What do they reveal about the Netherlands’ sentiment towards nuclear subjects and has this changed over time? And what does this teach us today about the current discussion?

Joost Schilperoord Ph.D. is an assistant-professor at Tilburg University since 1999. He studied Communication sciences and Linguistics at Utrecht University, where he wrote a dissertation on the psycholinguistics of written text production. His interests gradually shifted from psycholinguistics to visual and multimodal language and communication. He published several papers and gives bachelor and master courses about the rhetoric and cognition of visual genres like political cartoons. His current research focuses on analysing the visual and verbal expressive elements in cartoons, and the ways they are used in combination to address and frame socio-political issues and actors. He also studies how cartoons use rhetorical figures like metaphor, hyperbole and irony to influence public opinions and how such figures are comprehended and interpreted by people.

Programme (subject to change)

16:00 – Welcome
16:10 – Lecture + Q&A
17:00 – Guided visit of the exhibition
17:30 – Drinks

© Johannes Schwartz

Atomic Reactions

This lecture is part of the TU Delft Library project Atomic Reactions. It consists of an exhibition, lectures, workshops and a film screening and discussion. In Atomic Reactions we aim to untie the messy knot formed around this topic. How was the imaging and public opinion on nuclear energy formed and how did it change during the past decades? Atomic Reactions is part of TU Delft’s programme for its 180th lustrum. The theme for this lustrum year is: energy transition.

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