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Final Assignment: Picking A Map For The British Library

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In the past, Satire has repeatedly been used as a form of humour and irony to criticise and expose stereotypes, as well as political messages with comical geopolitical illustrations. Satirical cartography has often been produced specifically to make a comment upon the social, economic or political state of things (T. Harper ‘Satirical maps of the world’). For the centrepiece of the exhibition in the British Library, I believe ‘Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Bite’ is the most suitable map. Walter Emanuel’s use of satire and symbolism combined with ‘The Dogs of War’ passage creates a clear account of the events that occurred in world war one. I believe this map is the most interesting out of the four not just because of its unique and descriptive storytelling told through illustrations and figurative language, but also because of its vibrancy and the use of internationally recognised stereotypes and symbols. This allows anyone to instantly recognise what the map is narrating as well as important factors and key figures which took significant roles in the years leading up to the beginning and end of the war.

One such figure is John Bull. John Bull is the national personification of the United Kingdom. Although he wasn’t a real person, he represented the will of the British people in the early 1900s. John Arbuthnot introduced John Bull in ‘The History of John Bull’ as “an Honest plain-dealing fellow, choleric, bold, and of a very inconstant temper,” He was frequently used as propaganda in 1914, urging many young men to enlist and join the war force. In this map he represents British naval power and his large size in comparison to other anthropomorphic figures highlights Britain’s power and influence over the geopolitical world in the early 20th century.

“The boundaries between maps and writing are fluid, a map sometimes even qualifies as a work of literature” (T. Conley, 2007) This is evidently reflected by the map that I have chosen: ‘Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Bark!’ as it utilises zoomorphism to depict the alliances and rivalries during the first world war. Zoomorphism, like anthropomorphism, is an effective way used by several cartographers to symbolise certain countries and regions using animals to represent them. This is shown in this map when Germany, a central power during ww1, is shown to be a dachshund- a recognised symbol of Germany which was predominantly used in the beginning of the 20th century by political cartoonists to mock and ridicule them. Conversely, Britain is shown to be a bull dog which had the habit of “sleeping with one eye open, and when he is roused, he grips and won’t let go” Map 1 was evidently against the axis powers of WW1 and this is highlighted by the positive connotations of the courageous, strong and stubborn bulldog and the relatively negative representation of the dachshund which “despised” the bulldog that was adamantly biting his nose and would not let go.

One of the main reasons a conflict which would have been solely between Serbia and Austria-Hungary exacerbated into a world war was due to the numerous alliances. This is demonstrated in the text beneath the map, ‘The dogs of War’ as it emphasises how the role of friendship between the dogs increased tensions.” The little servian had a great big friend in the form of a Russian Bear” and “the Russian Bear had friends, too.” Ultimately, the “Russian Bear,” “French Poodle” and “British Bull dog” emerged as the victors in 1918. As well as being aesthetically pleasing this map enables anyone seeking new knowledge to learn about the events of the war, thus making it a good centrepiece suitable for all sorts of audiences.

‘Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Bark!’ is an important piece of history. It’s a source of primary data that shows ideals and perspectives in 1914 and allows us- and any historians to gain a deeper insight of what people believed a hundred years ago. From this map one can conclude that it was written as anti-German propaganda. By the end, “The Dachshund’s heart bleeds for Belgium- and his nose for Great Britain.” In addition to having a pro-British point of view it also demonstrates a Eurocentric outlook in which Europe seems to be given more importance and superiority in comparison to other regions and continents. Even though non-European countries such as America also participated in the war, only the main countries in Europe were shown. One can argue this may be because most of the fighting occurred in Europe and because the United States of America only joined in 1917, however, this Eurocentric design indicates European power and influence in the early 20th century. Today, the most prominent superpowers in the world include America, Russia and China (among others) however up until a century ago Britain with its vast empire would have taken the first place followed by Germany. By depicting the Dachshund’s defeat, Britain along with the other European powers would be glorified and perceived as the saviours. This is further emphasised as the map doesn’t show the correct magnitude of Europe and omits several countries. This suggests that only the countries distinctly shown in the map are significant to what it is trying to convey, which in this case is the fighting between powers in central Europe in world war one.

Emanuel also used colour scheme to portray the positions each country had in 1914. Some countries such as Spain, Italy and Belgium are yellow. This is to show how they were neutral. Although Italy was principally part of the Triple alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, in 1915 it switched sides and even though Belgium portrayed anti-German attitudes throughout the war it remained neutral. The colour yellow can symbolise happiness, positivity and energy however it can also represent cowardice. The colour yellow may have been used to criticise the roles these neutral countries took in the war. Patriotism and nationalism played a vital role in recruiting soldiers and increasing morale. So, the lack of desire to join and fight in the name of their countries may have made nations like Spain seem weak when the war broke out.

Interestingly, Russia- a major ally during the war, is also in yellow. This is to show the delicate diplomacy between the two countries in the 20th century. In 1904, Great Britain and France signed the Entente Cordiale. This established a formal alliance between the two countries; despite the mutual defence agreement between France and Russia which was created to impede an attack from the United Kingdom. In order to alleviate tensions, Russia was admitted into the Triple Entente. As Russia promised to help Serbia, Britain and France were also obligated to do so and eventually, this led to a massive war breaking out in Europe. Despite this mutualistic accordance, tensions between the two powers continually grew after the war as the Soviet Union gained attention and the cold war started taking shape. These geopolitical tensions still remain today.

In contrast to the vibrant yellow, Britain and France are red. This represents passion, danger and refers to the colour of good luck in several Asian countries. The colour red easily captures our attention and triggers alertness. This reflects British patriotism and conveys the faith people had in their country’s armed forces. In juxtaposition, Green-which is the colour depicted on the rest of the European countries, shown on the map represents greed and jealousy.

In conclusion, I believe that “Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Barks!” is the best map for the centrepiece exhibition in the British Library. The Library is a place where people from all around come to visit to learn and gain deeper knowledge. This map effectively acts as a source of information and a fascinating piece to look at. The amalgamation of symbolism, colour and information found in this map make it a worthy candidate as a centrepiece and so therefore, I encourage the British library to choose this map.

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