Master of Arts (MA)


French Studies

Document Type



Representation of social groups in the comics is serious. In 2006, a series of twelve cartoons published in a Danish newspaper sparked a controversy that precipitated the deaths of hundreds of people. The images depicted Mohammed and other images that supposedly mocked Islam. All across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa protesters paraded through the streets, some calling for the death of the cartoonists. Trials in Europe over the publication of these cartoons resulted in several firings. Counter protests have also arisen. These protesters found grievance with the firings, claiming that the freedom of the press was being violated (especially in France, concerning the publication Charlie Hebdo). Aside from these inflammatory images, comics’ artists have been depicting peoples of the Near and Middle East since the foundations of the medium by Rodolphe Töpffer. Over approximately 150 years, representation of these peoples have changed in some ways and remained the same in others. Specifically, the franco-belgian tradition of comics (also known as la bande dessinée) have been instrumental in the creation and proliferation of several stereotypes about Near and Middle Eastern peoples. This thesis examines the relationships between these stereotypes and the medium of the bande dessinée. Through a wide variety of criticisms and sources, the researcher found that there exists a focused trend to lessen the degree to which stereotyping of Arabs occurs. Via content and context analysis, the researcher discovered several key factors in the evolution of the Arab stereotype. These factors include political and religious affiliations of the authors and publishers, the type of narrative chosen, and artistic style of the author/ illustrator, amongst others. The additions these authors and illustrators make to the available bodies of literature provide a framework in which to ground psychological and sociological studies of a particular nature, that being the sensitivities of artists in regards to representation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Russo, Adelaide