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July 28, 2014

Swann Fellow to Discuss Cartoonists’ Artistic Responses to Disabled Civil War Veterans

Swann Foundation Fellow Erin Corrales-Diaz, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will examine political cartoons that interpret war-induced disability during and after the American Civil War.

Corrales-Diaz will present "Empty Sleeves and Bloody Shirts: Disabled Civil War Veterans and Presidential Campaigns, 1864-1880," at noon on Thursday, Aug. 14, in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. The lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets are needed.

Corrales-Diaz will focus specifically on images by such well-known political cartoonists as Thomas Nast (1840-1901) and Joseph E. Baker (approximately 1837-1914). Artists like Nast fought a "paper war" by using political cartoons to sway public opinion in support of specific political candidates, issues, and ideologies. During battles with the brush and the pen, a new social figure emerged who embodied patriotism and heroic sacrifice—the disabled veteran.

The rise and influence of the pictorial press in political campaigns coincided with the American Civil War. As developments rapidly unfolded on the battlefield and in the news media, the disabled veteran became a figure charged with significant political power. Artists quickly drew upon his maimed body as a campaign strategy, according to Corrales-Diaz. Focusing upon political cartoons for presidential campaigns from 1864 to 1880, Corrales-Diaz will explore how the broken body of the veteran became an emblem of a charged political visual rhetoric and generated a re-evaluation of the veteran’s social role in 19th century America.

Corrales-Diaz is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is focusing on the art of the American Civil War and Reconstruction. In her doctoral dissertation, entitled "Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915," she examines the complex ways in which American artists attempted to interpret war-induced disability after the war and argues that the veteran’s injured body became a vehicle for exploring the overwhelming sense of loss and disillusionment during the war’s aftermath. Corrales-Diaz completed an M.A. in art history at Williams College, and a B.A. in art history at the University of Washington, Seattle. In addition to the Swann Fellowship, she has received other awards and fellowships including the Joan and Robert Huntley Art History Scholarship at the University of North Carolina in 2012 and a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State in 2010.

This presentation, sponsored by the Swann Foundation and Prints & Photographs Division, is part of the 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’s advisory board is comprised of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members. The foundation strives to award one fellowship annually (or biennially) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. Applications for the 2016-2017 academic year will be due Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. More information about the fellowship is available through the Swann Foundation website at or by e-mailing

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

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PR 14-120
ISSN 0731-3527

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