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April 26, 2007

Images of Irish-American Immigrants Featured in Lecture by Swann Fellow on May 15

Swann Foundation Fellow Sharrona Pearl will discuss depictions of Irish-American immigrants in mid-19th century prints and analyze the ambiguous nature of the graphic imagery, on May 15 at the Library of Congress.

Pearl will present the lecture, titled "Black and White: Drawing the Irish-American Immigrant in Shades of Grey," at noon on Tuesday, May 15, in West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC.

Pearl’s illustrated presentation is based on research conducted at the Library of Congress during her fellowship awarded by the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. The Library administers the foundation. Sponsored by the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division and the Swann Foundation, the lecture is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

At mid-19th century, Irish-Americans held rights of citizenship and voting and quickly became the most important political force on the East Coast. Many prints show politicians and others seeking support from the Irish, even as the imagery also suggests that they were racially and religiously different. Pearl will argue that close examination of selected prints from the 1830s through the 1860s demonstrates that Irishness was depicted more noticeably through linguistic and external symbols, such as clothing and weaponry, than through distinct racial and facial markers. Pearl will observe that the poor Irish were often depicted as more easily identifiable than their wealthier counterparts.

Pearl completed a Ph.D. in the history of science at Harvard University in 2005. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled "Facing the Victorians: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain," under contract with Harvard University Press. Pearl has published articles on a number of related topics, including her new research on science and theater. She is a lecturer with the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard University, which is a three-year, post-doctoral fellowship.

Pearl’s presentation is part of the Swann Foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The Swann Foundation awards one fellowship annually (with a stipend of $15,000) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/swannhome or by e-mailing swann@loc.gov.

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PR 07-090
04/26/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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