American Studies | U.S. Movements & Institutions-Race & U.S. Culture, 1865-1915: Comics
A201 | 31011 | Paddison


Instructor: Josh Paddison

TR, 11:15a-12:30p, SY002

Course carries S&H Credit

Following the Civil War, changes in printing technology ushered in
a "golden age of illustration" as books, newspapers, and magazines
became filled with visual art. Comics--a new art form that blended
words and picturesó-became phenomenally popular with Americans of all
ages, regions, and class backgrounds. Like science and religion,
comics were an important arena where ideas about race were made and
re-made on a daily basis. Combining the authority of text with the
potency of image, drawing on humor as well as political commentary,
comics shaped, reflected, and challenged Americans' notions of racial
difference. This course will examine representations of race in
American comics from 1865 to 1945. Our focus will be on political
cartoons and newspaper comic strips, but we will examine related
forms of popular and visual culture, including blackface minstrelsy,
music, advertising, magazine illustration, fine art, animation, and
comic books. In addition to examining caricatured depictions of
African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Irish
Catholics, and Jews, we will explore how ethnic and racial minorities
themselves employed comics to fight and play with prevailing
stereotypes. We will track changes over time, chronicling the
interrelation of comics and larger patterns of U.S. race relations.
Along with reading scholarly books and articles, we will analyze a
wide range of comics from the period, paying attention to form as
well as content, style as well as dialogue and narrative.