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July 13, 2011

Swann Foundation Announces Fellowships for 2011-2012

The Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, administered by the Library of Congress, announces fellowship awards to four applicants for the 2011-2012 academic year: Lara Saguisag, Margaret Samu, Masha Kowell and Jeremy Stoll.

The award winners will use the Library’s collections to explore the following topics: child characters in early American comic strips; Russian caricature as a form of art criticism; political satire in Soviet posters; and the recent use of comic-book format by artists in India.

Due to an unusually large number of strong applications, the foundation's advisory board did not award a single fellowship this year but instead decided to support four applicants’ projects with smaller awards.

Lara Saguisag, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, will conduct research for her dissertation "Drawing the Lines of Innocence: Representations of Childhood in Early American Comic Strips, 1896-1920." Focusing on "kid strips," or comic strips that featured child protagonists, she will investigate why the child became a popular subject in early American comics. She will analyze how these works at once reflected and shaped contemporary beliefs and anxieties about childhood. She will study original drawings by such creators as Rudolph Dirks, Lyonel Feininger, Winsor McCay and R.F. Outcault, whose works are well represented in the cartoon collections of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.

Margaret Samu, a lecturer in the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will work on her postdoctoral research project titled "Russian Caricature and Art Criticism 1850-1910." Caricature in Russian periodicals became a significant outlet for voicing opinions on the state of the art world during the turbulent period of artistic and social reforms that Samu’s study covers. She 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 in the field, which has focused on political caricature.

Masha Kowell, a doctoral candidate in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania, will conduct research for her dissertation "Agit-plakat: Political Posters of the Thaw (1956-1967)." Her project focuses on Soviet political satire produced by the publishing house Agit-plakat. 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. The Library’s holdings of the Soviet humor magazine Krokodil and many Soviet posters will provide the main basis for Kowell’s comparative and contextual study of Agit-plakat iconography.

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

New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906‑1973) established the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon in 1967. An avid collector, Swann assembled a large group of original drawings by over 500 artists, spanning two centuries, which his estate bequeathed to the Library of Congress in the 1970s. Swann's original purpose was to build a collection of original drawings by significant creators of humorous and satiric art and to encourage the study of original cartoon and caricature drawings as works of art. The foundation's support of research and academic publication is carried out in part through a program of fellowships.

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PR 11-132
07/13/11
ISSN 0731-3527

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