Weekend Culture: Presidential Holiday Cards Day Two

Yesterday we encouraged you to conduct visual analysis through President Obama’s current holiday card; however, there is much discussion that could be had over previous presidential holiday cards. 

Slate has posted a slideshow of various presidents’ holiday cards.  Print out the cards and consider engaging in the following activities with your students:

  • Compare and contrast the cards of two presidents that were either in close succession to one another, or are from different political parties, or, even more complex, from the same political party.  What distinguishes one from the other?
  • Consider the contextual significance surrounding the card.  What was happening during that presidency?  To what extent does the holiday card become a reflection of the way in which the president led during that time?
  • Ask the students to analyze how the cards have changed over the years.  Specifically, when did the Christmas tree become obsolete on the presidential holiday card?  Why?  What connotations are associated with this?  Ask students to identify strands and binaries that exist from the earliest president to the most recent.
  • The subject matter of the cards is interesting and varies.  What is included in the image of the card and what argument is being perpetuated by it? 
  • Give students a “word bank” of all the presidents and ask them to guess which president produced which card.  This could engage them in an interesting discussion about perception and expectations and the way we perceive ourselves.  Furthermore, they can also begin exploring how an image can ultimately reflect the personality of a president.

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