Monday, November 24, 2014

Final Project Proposal - Vertigo (second revision)

            For my final project I am going to revisit my revision on Lynd Ward’s Vertigo.  In the revision I made the argument that America in the late 20’s and early 30’s was corrupted from its original path towards a bright future and how it had been twisted by capitalism and the upper echelon.  I used the 1929 “pocket history” section to accomplish this, and I also looked at a few images in the Elderly Gentleman section to make a comparison between America and fascist Germany in the same time period.  I think the eagle and the way it’s portrayed in Ward’s images, along with other factors and symbols, is a clear point for this view.  For this project I will expand my argument that Ward is likening America to Nazi Germany through similarities and foreshadowing in the images.  I think Ward does this because he sees America being twisted into the same darkness that Germany is and this book is a commentary about America copying the evil there.  By going more in depth into the Elderly Gentleman section I will examine the various uses of symbols and depictions of historical events to show Ward’s perspective on the path America is following.

Purpose behind the argument:
            I think this point needs to be made about the correlation between inter-war America and the rise of Nazi Germany because it shows why Ward made this book the way he did.  The darkness of the images as a result of using woodcuts helps symbolize how he viewed the world at the time and his mentality is a product of historical events.  Vertigo is an example of how people felt in America during the Great Depression and how hope was dying out in a darkening world.  By comparing America to Nazi Germany Ward is showing the kind of hell that common people went through in the Depression, and without change America would become a fascist autocracy or worse with the American people crushed underneath.


Petzina, Dieter. “Germany and the Great Depression.” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 4, No.4.
Oct. 1969. 59-74. PittCat.

-This source gives information about the effects of the Great Depression on both Germany and the U.S. and how their economies and labor forces were damaged.  It draws parallels between the two countries and practices of businesses in treatment of workers.  This source was used in the first revision.

Bernanke, Ben S.  “Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great
Depression.”  The National Bureau of Economic Research.  NBER Working Paper
n.1054. 1983.  Web.

-This source provides information on the economic practices of the Depression and how businesses ran themselves and treated their labor forces.

Herb, Steven. "Lynd Ward: graphic novel pioneer." The Horn Book Magazine Mar.-Apr. 2011:
89+. Academic OneFile. Web.

-This source has biographical information on Lynd Ward and I will use it to look at what might have influenced him to create the message in Vertigo.


Ward’s comparison of America and Nazi Germany

1.      Introduction
a.       Background of Vertigo
b.      Thesis – Ward likens America in the 30’s to Nazi Germany
2.      Ward
a.       Some biographical info.
b.      Thoughts on Great Depression, Nazi Germany
3.      The Eagle
a.       Presentation and character
b.      Location relative to perspective
c.       Meaning
4.      Laborers
a.       Scenes of riots
b.      Treatment of workers
c.       Responses by executives

This is a very rough outline of how I want to structure my paper.  From my original revision I have a section about the “pocket history” 1929 section that is fairly long, and I will use some of the points made in it but it will be for the most part shortened or cut out.


  1. I think this is a very good final project topic and could result in a interesting paper. Although your outline is very rough as you wrote, I think it is a good start and should help to guide you to a solid final draft. The idea that Ward is showing a kind of "hell" is kind of what I thought he was doing, but I think there could be other arguments as to why Ward wrote Vertigo the way he did. Make sure you cover any counter arguments that could result from other peoples interpretation of the graphic novel. Lastly, my main two recommendations for this project would be to have a strong conclusion, and cover any counterarguments.

  2. This is a decent start, although it doesn't really built on previous versions of the project. Figuring out what you have to contribute here is the important part. I don't dispute that there are contributions to be made, but I'm not totally clear on what they are. If it was me doing it (obviously it isn't, so these are just ideas) here are some questions I'd be asking.

    1. What are the connections that Ward sees between Nazi Germany and the U.S.? Does it have to do with the structure of the state, with the nature of capitalism between the two, with the rejection of socialism, or something else?
    2. What research can you do into Ward himself that will make this argument grow? His political and religious views are obvious relevant here.
    3. How exactly is Ward trying to respond to his exact historical moment? He's writing/drawing about the Depression from within the Depression, and criticizing contemporary U.S. politics from within them.

    I guess my basic idea is that this project demands good research. You might concentrate more or less on Ward himself, on the U.S. or on Germany, on socialism and labor relations, etc. - but you're going to want a clearer and more developed research agenda than you yet have.