Rebecca Wanzo

Rebecca Wanzo

Chair and Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Affiliate Professor of American Culture Studies
PhD, Duke University
BA, Miami University
research interests:
  • African American literature history and culture
  • theories of affect
  • popular culture
  • critical race theory
  • feminist theory

contact info:

office hours:

  • Monday 12:00 - 1:00 pm
    Or By Appointment

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1078
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Rebecca Wanzo is a professor and chair of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

She is the author of The Suffering Will Not Be Televised: African American Women and Sentimental Political Storytelling (SUNY Press, 2009), which uses African American Women as a case study in exploring the kinds of storytelling conventions of people must adhere to for their suffering to be legible to various institutions in the United States. Her most recent book, The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging (NYU Press, 2020) examines how Black cartoonists have used racialized caricatures to criticize constructions of ideal citizenship, as well as the alienation of African Americans from such imaginaries.

Her research interests include African American literature and culture, critical race theory, fan studies, feminist theory, the history of popular fiction in the United States, cultural studies, theories of affect, and graphic storytelling. She has published in venues such as American Literature, Camera Obscura, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Signs, Women and Performance, and numerous edited collections. She has also written essays for media outlets such as CNN, the LA Review of Books, Huffington Post, The Conversation, and the comic book Bitch Planet

Visit https://www.rebeccawanzo.com for more information.

 

 

   

The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging

The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging

Revealing the long aesthetic tradition of African American cartoonists who have made use of racist caricature as a Black diasporic art practice, Rebecca Wanzo demonstrates how these artists have resisted histories of visual imperialism and their legacies. Moving beyond binaries of positive and negative representation, many Black cartoonists have used caricatures to criticize constructions of ideal citizenship in the United States, as well as the alienation of African Americans from such imaginaries. “The Content of Our Caricature” urges readers to recognize how the wide circulation of comic and cartoon art contributes to a common language of both national belonging and exclusion in the United States.

Historically, white artists have rendered white caricatures as virtuous representations of American identity, while their caricatures of African Americans are excluded from these kinds of idealized discourses. Employing a rich illustration program of color and black-and-white reproductions, Wanzo explores the works of artists such as Sam Milai, Larry Fuller, Richard “Grass” Green, Brumsic Brandon Jr., Jennifer Cruté, Aaron McGruder, Kyle Baker, Ollie Harrington, and George Herriman, all of whom negotiate and navigate this troublesome history of caricature. “The Content of Our Caricature” arrives at a gateway to understanding how a visual grammar of citizenship, and hence American identity itself, has been constructed.