Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Sarah A. Mathews

First Advisor's Committee Title

committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

James P. Burns

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Maria K. Lovett

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Rebecca Friedman

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


pictographs, ideological management, genealogy of power, curriculum history, governmentality, critical literacy, visual literacy, Rudolf Modley, Otto Neurath, citizenship education

Date of Defense



The study traced selected knowledge that influenced pictographs in social studies textbooks in the United States from 1937 through 1942. The qualitative study analyzed the messages in pictographs produced by Rudolf Modley’s business - Pictorial Statistics, Incorporated. The study interpreted the underlying ideological management within pictographs to present a method of analysis for future research on other visual educational material. Foucault’s (1980; 2003; Shiner, 1982) genealogy of power method addressed the different shifts in power and meaning making involved in communicating sociopolitical messages to the reader through pictographs while ideological management and governmentality informed Hsieh & Shannon’s (2005) directed content analysis (Foucault, 1980; 2003; Shiner, 1982; Spring 1992) to code the messages in pictographs. The overarching theoretical lens of the study, ideological management and governmentality, interpreted and problematized the management of knowledge. The findings produced by the genealogy of power and the directed content analysis suggest that progressive education practices adopted pictographs because of their fact-based nature, ability to supplement the text, and add depth to classroom discussions. The social studies curriculum of the 1930s and early 1940s focused on community engagement, contemporary American life, and the political and ideological dichotomy between democratic nations and rising authoritarian governments (Thornton, 2008). The 208 pictographs in the sample focus on general welfare, the United States’ status in comparison to rival and subjugated nations, and the positive ties that the New Deal administration held with the public. These findings present pictographs as one way that the federal government and social organizations attempted to instill social values, a shared history of American exceptionalism, and a positive outlook on the nation’s treatment of its citizens. Although various forms of innovative visual communication in education appear as objective forms of knowledge, this form of communication holds historical roots and implications. Tracing the historical nature of a visual medium exposes the dangers of taking for granted the knowledge that presents fact-based social expectations, norms, and views on different groups. Further use of a critical historical view on visuals enhances visual literacy skills that further develop synthesis and in-depth thinking to bring about civic, participatory, and social transformation.





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