December 18, 2006 Swann Fellow To Lecture on Winsor McCay at Library of Congress, Jan. 16

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639,
Public Contact: Martha Kennedy (202) 707-9115,

Swann Foundation Fellow Katherine Roeder will discuss the work of distinguished cartoonist Winsor McCay and its relationship to the mass culture of the early 20th century in a lecture next month at the Library of Congress.

Roeder will present her talk, titled “Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy and Mass Culture in the Work of Winsor McCay,” at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 16, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The illustrated presentation is based on Roeder’s research project, which has been supported by her fellowship from the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. The Library of Congress administers the foundation. The lecture, sponsored by the foundation and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

A pioneering master in newspaper comics and early animation, and a notable editorial cartoonist, McCay (1867-1934) first gained national notice for his detailed and fantastical comic strips that included “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend” (1904-1911), “Little Sammy Sneeze” (1904-1906) and, arguably the best known and beloved of all, “Little Nemo in Slumberland” (1905-1914). “Little Nemo” was a weekly comic strip in which the title character repeatedly embarked on epic journeys to exciting, strange and sometimes frightening places, only to awaken in the last frame safe at home in his bed. McCay’s comic strips, in the Sunday editions of American newspapers, made an important contribution to the proliferation of fantastic imagery at the dawn of the 20th century.

McCay’s work centered on fantasy and longing, qualities that were key features of the burgeoning commercial environment. In her lecture, Roeder will make formal comparisons between McCay’s comic strips and the design of department stores, printed advertisements and amusement parks. McCay drew from a broad spectrum of visual sources to create a richly textured world that engaged viewers and excited their imaginations. His comic strips produced a dream world shaped by the visual language of modern urban experience.

Roeder is a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, where her area of focus is American art and culture. Her dissertation is titled, “Cultivating Dreamfulness: Fantasy, Longing and Commodity Culture in the Work of Winsor McCay.” In addition to being one of three Swann Fellows for 2006-2007, Roeder is a Smithsonian pre-doctoral fellow at the National Portrait Gallery for 2006-2007. Last year, she was a research fellow in American art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Roeder received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and a master’s from the University of Maryland.

Roeder’s lecture 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’s advisory board is composed of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.

The foundation customarily awards one fellowship annually, with a stipend of $15,000, to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. Applications for the academic year 2007-2008 will be due on Feb. 15, 2007. More information about the fellowship is available through the Swann Foundation’s Web site: or by e-mailing


PR 06-232
ISSN 0731-3527