Bob Mankoff, cartoonist and cartoon editor of The New Yorker magazine, will give a talk at Washington and Lee University, on Thursday, May 9, at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons
The title of Mankoff's talk, which is free and open to the public, is "Crowdsourcing Cartooning: The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest."
Mankoff will discuss how The New Yorker magazine decides on a caption that is left to readers. He said, "On the back page of every issue of The New Yorker our readers receive these instructions: 'Each week we provide a cartoon in need of a caption. You, the reader, submit the caption, we choose three finalists, and you vote for your favorite.' "
Mankoff's presentation is in connection with a W&L Spring Term course, "The Psychology of Humor."
He will examine "the criteria used for the creation and selection of cartoons that are suitable for the contest, looking at data that enable us to distinguish variables within the image that are predictive of response rates and humor quality," he said.
He will also discuss "the different strategies for humor production employed by the winning entrants, relating this material to theoretical concepts in the fields of humor and creativity, with the aim to investigate whether these theoretical concepts have a practical benefit as concerns the contest.
In his presentation Mankoff will address "the multi-tiered strategy, including evaluation crowdsourcing" that the New Yorker editorial staff uses to select three finalists each week. The goal, he said, is "to overcome sequencing and satiation variable that would make humor evaluation unreliable."
Mankoff, also the founder of The Cartoon Bank, is the editor of "The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker," which contains all 68,647 cartoons ever published in The New Yorker since its debut in 1925. He has edited dozens of cartoon books and published four of his own. More than 900 of his cartoons have been published in The New Yorker over the past 20 years.
Mankoff has created a special cartoon caption contest for the May 9 lecture and is seeking caption submissions from the W&L community for the cartoon below:
Caption entries may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include the submitter's full name and affiliation with Washington and Lee (i.e. student, faculty, staff, alumnus, parent). The deadline for entries is April 26, 2013. The winner will be announced during Mankoff's talk and will receive a signed copy of his book, "The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker."