From Litho Stone to Pentium Chip:
Interpreting Gender in U.S. World War I Posters

Exhibition Project for Gender Studies 103 (Spring 98)

Writing Assignment

Project Description  |  Exhibition Text Panels 
Title, Length, and Formatting of Text Panels
Areas to Address in Your Text Panels
Dates  |  Sources
Additional Faculty/Staff Resources

Project Description 
An exhibition entitled From Litho Stone to Pentium Chip: Interpreting Gender in U.S. WWI Posters is presented in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University from April 28 through June 8, 1998.  As part of the Gender Studies 103 class, each student wrote an exhibition text panel to accompany one or more of the approximately 40 posters on display in the hallway gallery and for a concurrent on-line exhibition. 
This project is the first of its kind for the gallery in that students were able to use the Web to access digital color reproductions of original WWI posters that are part of the St. Lawrence University's permanent collection.  From there, they were also be able to refer to other digital and print resources to help with their research.  

The following was addressed to students in Gender Studies 103 as they were preparing their text panels, but others may find it useful as well.

Exhibition Text Panels 
An exhibition text panel shapes the way a gallery visitor understands and relates to a work of art.  We have already shaped the exhibition to a certain extent, in that we are asking you to interpret the posters by focussing on aspects of gender, though issues of race, ethnicity, and class should also be addressed.  A good text panel appears to have been written effortlessly, yet undoubtedly it has been very well researched and has gone through several revisions before it is installed on a gallery wall.  Your job is to prioritize and communicate a dense amount of information (everything you think the viewer/reader "needs to know") clearly and concisely.  Be specific
A good text panel also takes into account its audience; you want to sound knowledgeable about your subject, but not write above or below the level of your readers.  We don't expect that you'll be able to address all of the areas suggested below.  You may choose to write about one poster or compare and contrast two or more posters.  
Title, Length, and Formatting of Text Panels 
You must give your text panel a title (not the name of the poster) and include your name(s) as author(s).  Each panel should be 200-250 words.  Cite your sources using MLA style.  You can submit your final text panel to Cathy Tedford electronically at  The gallery staff will format your text panels and mount them on foam-cor for the exhibition.  
Areas to Address in Your Text Panels 
1. What are the main themes? 
2. What is/are the message(s), both explicit and implicit? 
3. Who is the intended audience? 
4. What symbols and/or images are used to get the message(s) across?  Why have these particular images been chosen?  What do they represent?  (For example, what backgrounds or environments are depicted - domestic home scenes, battlefields, etc.?) 
5. How do different images play off of one another? 
6. What representations of masculinity and femininity are used?  Why?  (For example, how is female patriotism differentiated from male patriotism?) 
7. What is the relationship between written messages and pictorial images? 
8. What is the race/ethnicity of the figures in the poster(s)?  What is the relationship between race/ethnicity and gender? 
9. What is the class position of the figures in the poster(s)? 
10. Briefly describe the historical/political context in which the poster was made. 
11. Include your own conclusions in your text panel based on the questions listed above.  
February 12, 1998 
Guest lecture on gender and WWI era by SLU history professors
February 17 
Classes meet in gallery to discuss assignment and select poster(s)
March 3
First draft of text panel due 
April 16 
Final draft of text panel due 
April 28 
Exhibition opens in the gallery and on-line 

In addition to seeking input on your text panels from Professor Williams, you are encouraged to contact the gallery staff and history professors listed below.  You will have the opportunity to revise your text panel, and both drafts will be graded.  
You can access the posters on the gallery's Web site at  Click on Gender Studies 103 and follow the instructions on the screen.  You'll get better reproductions of the posters if your computer has a screen with high resolution; older computers are slower to load visual images and the quality is much poorer.  Try to use machines in the newer labs on campus. 

As you'll see, we have begun to compile a bibliography and list of useful Web links for research purposes and would appreciate including your sources (readings, Web sites, etc.) as part of this ongoing effort.  This project will continue to grow, and you can help make information about the WWI posters available to your classmates and others for research and class projects.  Click on Contact Us! and follow the instructions on the screen to e-mail us with your additions.  
Additional Faculty/Staff Resources 
Cathy Tedford, Gallery Director   5174 
Carole Mathey, Gallery Collections Manager  5522 
Dr. Judy DeGroat, History    5396 

Return to GS103 project main page

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Last updated:  Monday, May 14, 2001