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Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon

Swann Foundation Fellowships Awarded 1999-present

The Swann Foundation Fellowship program at the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division in Washington, D.C., has awarded study grants since 1999. This list of funded projects indicates the impressive breadth of research topics that can be explored through the Library’s collections. For more information, please visit the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon web site at

Note: An asterisk indicates the fully funded fellowship projects where the Library's cartoon collections were the core research resource.


Salon Caricature in Paris, 1840-1881
Julia Langbein, a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Chicago, will focus primarily upon studying caricatures of paintings that were displayed in the Paris Salon, the annual or biennial state-sponsored display of high art. When examined across such journals as La Petite Lune, L’Eclipse, Le Journal Amusant, Le Charivari, Le Grelot, and L’Assiette au Beurre, the practice of Salon caricature forms a 40-year corpus of fascinating, revealing graphic satire. Langbein aims to shed light on a misunderstood, little studied type of caricature and to re-assert the importance of this art form in the history of this central institution in nineteenth century French art.

Darkology: The History of amateur Blackface Minstrelsy and the Making of Modern America, 1860-1965
Rhae Lynn Barnes, a doctoral candidate in history at Harvard University, is creating a bibliographic database of amateur minstrel show guides and related publications as a key element of her study. As she catalogs these materials, which include cartoons of black life in America, Barnes will analyze how the cartoons’ tropes and characters changed over time in relation to black freedom struggles and increased during the Jim Crow era. In addition to holdings in Rare Book and General Collections, Barnes will also explore performing arts posters, manuscripts and organizational records relating to amateur minstrel shows.

Red Dilemma: Totalitarian Spectacle and the Inception of the Cultural Cold War in American Art 1939-1949
Jill E. Bugajski, a doctoral candidate in Art History at Northwestern University, will investigate graphic art and exhibitions in America in the context of its shifting relationship with the Soviet Union. She contends that the 1940s saw a radical graphic transformation of the USA-USSR paradigm, which revolutionized the political role of artists who created imagery to be conveyed in the form of political posters, didactic portfolios, pamphlets, and printmaking. Such artistic strategies came to render traditional forms of American propaganda obsolete.

History: Palestinian Political Cartoons, 1948 to 2009
Sadam Issa, a doctoral candidate in African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will examine how Palestinian political cartoons published in three Palestinian newspapers, Filastin (Palestine), al-Quds (Jerusalem), and al-Hayat al-Jadidah (The New Life), visually narrate the history of Palestine from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 to the Gaza War of 2009. He argues that this imagery provides insight into Palestinian history, especially in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and thus can serve as a pictorial form of Palestinian national narrative.

Anti-Semitism and Anti-modernism in France: 1918-1940
Emilie Anne-Yvonne Luse, a doctoral candidate in Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University, plans to study imagery relating to abstraction and representation in conservative French interwar periodicals including Le Figaro, l’ami du people, l’Écho de Paris, Ric et Rac, Le Journal Amusant, Candide and Gringoire. Her project will explore how critiques of modern art and its markets during the interwar years functioned as a platform for anti-Semitism in France.


"Drawing the Lines of Innocence: Representations of Childhood in Early American Comic Strips, 1896-1920"
Lara Saguisag, a Ph.D. candidate, in the Department of Childhood Studies, at Rutgers University, will focus on “kid strips,” or comic strips that featured child protagonists in her research into why the child became a popular subject in early American comics. She will study features by such cartoonists as R. F. Outcault, Rudolph Dirks, Lyonel Feininger, and Winsor McCay, whose works are well represented in the Library’s extensive holdings. Saguisag will analyze how such comic strips at once reflected and shaped contemporary beliefs and anxieties about childhood.

"Agit-plakat: Political Posters of the Thaw (1956-1967)"
Masha Kowell, a doctoral candidate in the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, will explore a body of official Soviet political satire produced by the publishing house Agit-plakat in the late 1950s-1960s. As an official player in the process of de-Stalinization, this publisher facilitated the transformation of caricature into a vehicle for previously forbidden stylistic diversity and formal experimentation. Kowell will focus on the Library’s holdings of the Soviet humor magazine Krokodil and many Soviet posters in her comparative and contextual study of Agit-plakat iconography.

"Russian Caricature and Art Criticism 1850-1910"
Dr. Margaret Samu, a lecturer in the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will pursue post doctoral research on the parallel development of art criticism and caricatures about art in Russia from 1850 to 1910. During this turbulent period of artistic and social reforms, caricature in Russian periodicals became a significant outlet for voicing opinions on the state of the art world. Samu will draw on the Library’s strong holdings of Russian satirical and political periodicals in her study, the first to address caricatures on art, in contrast with most work which has focused on political caricature.

"Drawing Down the Nation: Reviving Folklore and Social Justice Through Comics in India"
Jeremy Stoll, a Ph.D. candidate in Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, will research how contemporary Indian artists combine regional folklore with comic book format to produce visual narratives to convey to mass audiences the urgency of social change arising from industrialization and globalization. He will study examples of contemporary and recently published Indian comic books and the American roots of these works in the Library’s extensive comic book collections.


“William Kentridge: Process as Metaphor and Other Doubtful Enterprises”
Leora Maltz-Leca, an assistant professor of contemporary art, history of art and visual culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, analyzes the animated cartoons of Kentridge, a widely acclaimed South African artist working today. In his distinctive creative process, he continuously draws and erases schematic subjects on a single charcoal drawing, all the time taking photographs of his changing drawing. Film narratives that he produces from his photographic records often feature stock characters or caricatures of apartheid-era stereotypes that Maltz-Leca contends relate to earlier European traditions of political caricature and plans to explore that connection.  

“Real Talk: Interrogations of Blackness and Whiteness in African American Post-Soul Visual and Popular Culture”
Jeffreen M. Hayes, a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the College of William and Mary, will investigate African American cartoonists who challenge and broaden notions of blackness while commenting on political and social structures in white America. African American cartoonists from 1930 to 2009 who have been selected for her study and most of whom are represented in the Library’s collection include Oliver W. Harrington, E. Simms Campbell, Brumsic Brandon, Keith Knight, Darrin Bell, and Aaron McGruder.


"Pushing Out Islam: Cartoons of the Reform Period in Turkey (1918-1928)"
Yasemin Gencer, a doctoral candidate in the history of art at Indiana University, analyzes Turkish political cartoons during the decade of reform. In cartoons from this period that is critical to the history of modern Turkey, she identifies symbols of Turkish modernism that contrast with traditional symbols of Islam and Arabic culture. She notes that textual and visual elements reinforce one another in the imagery, which can be seen as evidence of a new Turkish Republic seeking to distance itself from its Islamic past.

"Anglicizing the French Revolution: The Politics of Humor in Late Eighteenth-Century English Political Graphic Satire"
Amanda Lahikainen, a doctoral candidate in the history of art at Brown University, investigates ways in which British political satirists used the French Revolution to represent and comment upon English domestic politics from 1789 to 1804 (from the fall of the Bastille to Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor.) She will focus on works by Isaac Cruikshank, James Gillray, Richard Newton and  Thomas Rowlandson, all represented in the Library’s superb collection of British satirical prints.

"The Artist as Reporter: Picturing the News at PM Daily, 1940-1948"
Jason Hill, a doctoral candidate in the history of art at the University of Southern California, examines the place of cartooning within the visual repertoire of PM Daily, from 1940-1948. The editorial independence and  sophisticated visual program that characterized this newspaper attracted many of the era’s most celebrated artists, including Charles  E. Martin, Ad Reinhardt, Arthur Szyk and Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.)


"Transatlantic Encounters: Franco-American Exchanges in the Civil War and Reconstruction era."
Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire, a doctoral candidate in art history and archaeology at Columbia University, explores the influence of French academic painting traditions on the work of Thomas Nast, a predominant 19th century American political cartoonist, who collected prints of such leading French painters as Paul Delaroche and Jean Léon Gérôme.

"A Colorful Union: Patriotic Caricature and Characterization in Henry Louis Stephens’ Civil War Chromolithographs"
Mazie Harris, a doctoral candidate in the history of art at Brown University, analyzes the vacillation between caricature and characterization in two chromolithographic series created by Henry Louis Stephens, with the aim of clarifying his struggle to portray race relations as a motivation for the Union cause.
"'Transatlantic Realms': The Idea of America in the British Literary Imagination"
Jared Richman, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania, investigates prints in the Library’s collection of British satires as a means of illuminating the conceptual treatment of America during the period before, during, and after the Revolutionary War.

"A Nabob’s Progress: Graphic Satire, The Grand Master and British Excess, 1770-1830"
Christina Smylitopoulos, a doctoral candidate in art history and communication studies at McGill University, strengthens the broad art historical context for the figure of the nabob (a provincial governor in the Mogul empire in India, also often a person of great wealth or prominence) by conducting research in the Library’s outstanding holdings of British satires.

"Dangerous Domestics: Satirical Depiction of Wives in English Prints from 1745 to 1821"
Veronica White, who completed her doctorate in art history at Columbia University in the summer of 2008, initiates a postdoctoral research project on identifying and analyzing the varied artistic treatments of married women during the Golden Age of British satire through exploration of the Library’s rich collection.


"Where Have You Gone, Miss Columbia? American Identity and Uncle Sam's Forgotten Partner."
Ellen Berg, an affiliate assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Maryland, researches the emergence and rise of Miss Columbia as a national symbol in political cartoons and other popular visual imagery from the colonial period through the 19th century and World War I, after which, she contends that Americans’ relationship with this beloved symbolic figure changed.

"Routine Extremism: Ad Reinhardt and American Art"
Prudence Peiffer, a doctoral candidate in the History of Art at Harvard University investigates modernist painter Ad Reinhardt's little-known cartoon collages of Adolph Hitler published in the leftist journal The New Masses and PM newspaper and his "How to Look at Modern Art" cartoons published in Art Journal and argues that his earlier overlooked work shaped the formation of his unique system of radical aesthetics.


"‘Cultivating Dreamfulness’: Fantasy, Longing, and Commodity Culture in the Work of Winsor McCay"
Katherine (Kerry) Roeder, a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, analyzes cartoonist virtuoso Winsor McCay’s work in relation to his times, specifically in relation to absorption with dream and fantasy in the rapidly expanding consumer culture of early 20th century America.

"Caricature representations of Irish-American immigrants during the 1830s-1860s"
Dr. Sharrona Pearl, Lecturer, Committee on Degrees in History and Literature, Harvard University, draws on her training in the history of science and her expertise in physiognomy to explore caricature representations of Irish immigrants in the United States before, during, and after the Irish potato famine.

"Staging the Page: Graphic Satire in Eighteenth Century England"
Hope Saska, doctoral candidate in the history of art at Brown University, investigates the relationship between caricature and theater in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain by developing the idea that printed satires were “theatrical” representations and that such prints played a role in forging general character types as well as caricatures of recognizable individuals.


"Romeyn de Hooghe and the Birth of Political Satire" *
Meredith Hale, a doctoral candidate in art history at Columbia University, acknowledges that the origins of political cartooning are often associated with prints produced in 18th century England by artists such as William Hogarth and James Gillray. She contends, however, that the earliest stages of the genre can be found in the late 17th century in the northern Netherlands in the work of Dutch printmaker Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708). In her study of his large, beautifully executed prints she explicates de Hooghe’s political satires that combine striking imagery and texts that comment on both foreign and domestic events of his day.


"Contemporary Graphic Narratives: History, Aesthetics, Ethics"
In research for her dissertation, Hillary Chute, a doctoral candidate in English at Rutgers University, focuses on historically based graphic narratives such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Joe Sacco’s Palestine and employs narrative and visual theory and postmodern literary theory in order to illuminate how they are powerfully political and aesthetic works. She argues that the flexible architecture of these and other postmodern graphic narratives’ pages, their consonant and sometimes dissonant verbal and visual narratives embody, theorize, and dramatize the issue of representation itself.

"The Many Faces of Edward Gorey"
Amy Robin Hoffman, a candidate for a master’s degree in English at the University of Connecticut, explores Gorey’s dual roles as a writer and artist, investigates his work in caricature, and gives special attention to the artist’s portrayals of himself.

"Studies in Landscape Representation: Interrelations and Interdependencies"
Nicole Tucker Keith, a candidate for a master’s degree in landscape architecture at the Harvard School of Design, proposes an analysis of how artists’ representations of landscape in comics work within their sequences of imagery and how such representations relate to landscape architects’ approaches to landscape in their drawings.


"Embracing the Specter of Communism: The Art and Activism of Hugo Gellert" *
In doctoral and post-doctoral research on Hugo Gellert (1892-1985), American muralist and graphic artist, James Wechsler centers on the area of cartoon and caricature in this long overlooked artist’s life and art. In the first major study of Gellert’s life and work, Wechsler incorporates research on drawings and prints in the Library’s Ben and Beatrice Goldstein Foundation Collection and Willner Collection of graphic art. He completed a doctorate in art history at the City University of New York in 2003.

"Osamu Tezuka: Manga as a Site of Inter-Art Discourse in Postwar Japan (1945-1960)"
Natsu Onoda, a doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, examines the early works of Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) in her analysis of manga’s development during Japan’s postwar era in relation to the cultural, social, and political climate of the time. Tezuka is commonly identified as the inventor of modern manga.


"‘Il bello dal deforme’: Form and Subject in Seventeenth Century Italian Caricature" *
In her dissertation research, Sandra Cheng, a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, explores the connection between artistic training at the16th century Carracci Academy in Bologna, the contemporary curiosity in the monstrous, and the beginnings of caricature in modern Italy. Cheng’s research entailed study and analysis of early caricaturists’ work in rare prints housed in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division and the Rare Books Division.


"‘The Old Negro’: Race and Representation in Post Bellum America" *
Martha Nadel’s post-doctoral research features images of the “Old Negro” in popular visual and literary culture of the early post bellum era and the later transformation of such imagery. Nadel focused on 19th century representations of blackness, especially cartoons and caricatures published as illustrations in books and magazines, and found many relevant drawings and prints in collections of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. She completed her doctorate in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 2000.


"Germs, Genes, and Dissent: Images of Radicalism and Disease in the Construction of American National Identity" *
Chloe Burke, a doctoral student in history at the University of Michigan, employed political cartooning and other visual media in her dissertation research to interrogate the ways that discourses of illness and health were integral to the construction of modern American identity in terms of health and fitness, and radicalism as disease and degeneracy. Her analysis of bold cartoon drawings in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division’s collections supported points made in her dissertation. Burke completed her doctorate in 2004.


"The Limits of Irreverence: Irony and Liberal Satire in American Culture, 1950-1964" *
Stephen Kercher’s dissertation explores American cartooning during the Cold War era and includes analyses of work by luminaries such as Herbert Block (1909-2001), Walt Kelly (1913-1973), Bill Mauldin (1921-2003), Al Capp (1909-1979), and Robert Osborn (1904-1994). Kercher studied examples from the Library’s significant holdings of these cartoonists’ original work in his research when he was a Ph.D. candidate in both History and American Studies at Indiana University.

"Caricature and Artistic Identity: Peggy Bacon"
As a PhD candidate in art history at Case Western Reserve University, Sara F. Meng aimed through her dissertation research to produce the first detailed biography of Peggy Bacon (1895-1987), a leading American caricaturist of the 1920s and 1930s, whose artistic achievement in its cultural context, has, until recently has been overlooked. The Library holds original drawings, prints, and other materials by and about the artist.

"The Arts of Abolition: Enlightenment, Agitation and Representation in Britain, 1765-1807"
Sarah Parsons, a doctoral candidate in the history of art and architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focused her dissertation research on imagery by creators of “high art” and popular graphic art during public debates in Britain on slavery, the slave trade, and black personhood. Relevant to this is the Library’s outstanding collection of British satires, one of the finest assemblages of these rare prints in North America.

Prepared by: Martha Kennedy, Curator of Popular & Applied Graphic Art. Last updated: July 2011
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  July 26, 2012
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