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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the figure of Columbia in editorial cartoons from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century where she represents the nation at times of sociopolitical impasse, crisis, or change. The chapter analyzes a contemporary editorial cartoon, “The Handmaid’s Senators” by R. J. Matson, which editorializes the confirmation hearings of US Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. An analysis follows of Columbia in the 1865 “Pardon/Franchise,” Harper’s Weekly centerfold by Thomas Nast; Columbia is seen as the mouthpiece for Lincoln’s enfranchisement politics. The chapter briefly analyzes three illustrations from Joseph Keppler’s Puck, drawn during the 1893 Chicago World Fair and with a focus on women. Columbia recedes to the background here, while Lady Chicago celebrates this historic event. Returning to Matson’s cartoon, the chapter concludes that Columbia has always been the sociopolitical handmaid, who protects underrepresented people and facilitates commentary delivered to the public.

Keywords: comic books, Columbia, editorial cartoon, Thomas Nast, Joseph Keppler, Puck, handmaid, R. J. Matson, Civil War, Chicago World’s Fair

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