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I väntan på hufvudpersonen: Identitet och identifikation i svensk skämtbild 1870-1900
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics. (Konstvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6655-9611
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Waiting for the main character : Identity and identification in Swedish cartoons 1870–1900 (English)
Abstract [en]

In the decades around 1900, political and social cartoons flourished in humour and satire magazines in the Swedish capital. The thesis presents a new theoretical start on the nature of humour in cartoons: the idea of the comical is argued as effects of reality notions and bracketing reality notions. The theory is a prerequisite for understanding the mechanisms of the identity play performed in the comic scenes. The thesis pursues a search for the object or the character with whom the intended recipient was expected to identify, referred to as the “the main character”. The analysis is based on a kind of theatrical construction, where the real city, its pleasures, secrets and dangers constitute the material for the image’s scenes. The characters in the scenes act out the dangers and ambiguities that the city’s bourgeois man faced. The material of the study consists of social cartoons from the two Stockholm-based magazines Söndags-Nisse and Kasper between 1870 and 1900. About a hundred of them are reproduced in the thesis. 

The analysis builds on three theoretical perspectives: theories on images; humour; and identity constructions. By integrating theories on humour with image analysis, the thesis highlights the ambivalence and ambiguity of identity aspects. Relationships and characters explored through the image elements are given as headlines for the chapters: the room; the body; and the act. The study shows how a male and bourgeois hegemony invents image expressions, main characters, and plots that offer the recipient protection against being laughed at and against the danger of mistakes. The analysis shows that four strategies to represent the bourgeois man are frequent: as the “fuzzy man”; as the caricature of the bourgeois man; as the stereotype; and as the “unfettered man”. The various figures offer more or less possibilities of identification versus distancing. The pictures’ expressions of uncertainties – in terms of vague or fuzzy lines; self-irony; or avoiding being singled out – all these means provide distance, in relation to the picture content, the issues that concerned the intended recipient, whether it is about the difficulty of distinguishing the public body from the forbidden, or about general human conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm och Göteborg: Makadam Förlag, 2016. , 256 p.
Keyword [en]
humour, identity, social cartoon, caricature, hegemony, masculinity, gender, bourgeois, drawing, nineteenth century, satirical press, ambivalence, repetition, theatre, Judith Butler, Albert Engström, Oskar Andersson
National Category
Art History
Research subject
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128924ISBN: 978-91-7061-209-1OAI: diva2:922599
Public defence
2016-06-03, Auditorium 215, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-05-11 Created: 2016-04-08 Last updated: 2016-04-25Bibliographically approved

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Rossholm, Elisa
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