RSVP Linda H. Peterson Fellowship

The Linda H. Peterson Fellowship, named after the widely influential Yale professor and longtime RSVP Board member and Vice President, was created with funds from a generous bequest to RSVP by the late Eileen Curran, pioneering researcher and Emerita Professor of English at Colby College. The purpose of the Peterson Fellowship is to support one scholar for four full-time months to enable him or her to conduct a research project on the 19th-century British periodical and newspaper press. More details of the award can be found here:

This year’s winner

RSVP is very pleased to announce that the winner of the Linda H. Peterson Fellowship for 2018 is Ian Haywood, Professor of English at the University of Roehampton, UK, for his project: “The Rise of Victorian Caricature: Satirical Periodicals 1830-1850”. The project abstract is as follows:

This project, which is designed to be a sequel to my last book Romanticism and Caricature (2013), will challenge the orthodox view that the Victorian period ‘tamed’ caricature by depriving it of its political and aesthetic freedoms and subjecting it to the editorial control of the illustrated magazine, the prime example being Punch. In Thackeray’s words, caricature was ‘washed and combed’ by Victorian propriety. The problem with this gentrification and domestication thesis, which assumes that visual satire became uniformly respectable in outlook and naturalistic in style, is that it is both inaccurate and misleading. I will argue that, on the contrary, a slew of now largely forgotten radical satirical periodicals of the 1830s and 1840s took political caricature in a more democratic direction than its Georgian heyday. Far from neutering its effectiveness, the ‘periodicalization’ of graphic satire brought text and image into closer contact than before and installed the large cut (the equivalent of the single-print caricature) as the dominant logo of a new political imagination in which topical events were instantly transformed into comic, bizarre, grotesque and often violent scenes. The accessibility of these images, which appeared in periodicals costing just one penny, is testimony to the existence of a flourishing viewership for political caricature at precisely the moment when it allegedly disappeared. My study begins with Thomas McLean’s remarkable lithographed periodical Looking Glass (1830-36), illustrated by Robert Seymour, which cost as much as six shillings and was clearly aimed at the middle-class market. Having established a new visual vocabulary for attacking the era of Whig hegemony, Seymour then made a crucial switch to Gilbert A’ Beckett’s penny weekly Figaro in London (1831-39), blazing a trail for a series of more radical periodicals, the Penny Satirist (1837-46), Cleave’s Gazette of Variety (1837-44) and Odd Fellow (1839-42), all explicitly pro-Chartist and anti-monarchical. These three periodicals dominated the visual representation of politics until the arrival of Punch in 1841, and the new magazine had little choice but to follow their format. The revolutionary events of 1848-9 inspired a new wave of short-lived rivals such as Puppet Show and Man in the Moon. In order to revive this neglected culture of caricature, The Rise of Caricature will also shed new light on the remarkable career of Charles Jameson Grant, the prolific illustrator of both the radical satirical periodicals and a range of serialized publications including Political Drama (1833-5) and Every Body’s Album (1833-4).

Many congratulations to Professor Haywood on the award, and much good luck to him with this research.

Previous winners of the prize:

2016: Tom Mole: “Periodicals and the Policing of Culture, 1802-1828”.