The Personification of the Perfect Citizen: The English Political Cartoon, Colonial Anxiety, and Identity During the American Revolution
When studying the American Revolution, there is a variety of written source materials from the actors involved that have been used to decipher the many social and political changes that occurred throughout the conflict; however, imagery, especially political cartoons, can be key to uncovering avenues of cultural debate that highlight these changes in new and more detailed ways. With Great Britain experiencing its golden age of political caricature during the late 18th century, what might these images have to say about gender and race during this tumultuous period? In this project, I argue that British political cartoons were essential drivers of discussion about colonial anxieties in an era of rapidly changing concepts surrounding gender norms and race, both of which were powered by the expansion of the British Empire and the loss of the American colonies. This project will use a variety of sources outside of the cartoons themselves, including conduct books, journals, speeches, and letters. An emphasis will be placed on highlighting the ways in which the body—via the personification of the British state as well as the American colonies—was used in imagery in order to discuss British fears about a changing empire’s identity. In doing so, I hope to work through current scholarship on gender and race in the British empire by exploring how such topics were communicated through caricature.
Johns, Sarah, "The Personification of the Perfect Citizen: The English Political Cartoon, Colonial Anxiety, and Identity During the American Revolution" (2020). History Summer Fellows. 12.
Available to all.
Presented during the 22nd Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2020 at Ursinus College.
This research was completed under the Gladfelter Fellowship.
A related presentation is available here.