Celebration of Scholarship, Creativity & Achievement

  • Sarah Johns

Sarah Johns

The Political, the Personal, and the Personified: 18th Century British Political Caricature Art and the Formation of the British Empire’s Identity

Project Description

Dramatized, exaggerated, and grandiose in nature, political caricatures often yearn to depict the ways in which politics, cultural events and figures, and social norms interact. Even so, the art of caricature is not new, and the form we are familiar with today can in large part be traced back to 18th century Britain. The caricatures themselves are not simply static images with strict and obvious themes to communicate. Rather, these images—if anything—are transformative spaces of discussion that are still moving, shifting, and sharing their intended messages to this day. This is what makes the art of political caricature a powerful tool for understanding how British citizens across different genders, class structures, and racial groups conceived of themselves, the empire they interacted with on a daily basis, and how the world around them informed them of the presentation of that empire. I believe that political caricature from the second half of the eighteenth century in Great Britain—whether the images focused on Britain itself or various groups of “others”—were instead avenues through which mostly gentry British citizens could grapple with the formulation of a larger empire, as well as how that larger empire fit within their own concepts of identity as these changes took place.

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Department

History

Faculty Advisor

Lori Daggar 

Hometown

Royersford, PA