Art Terminology:

Click here for definitions of Woodcut, Wood Engraving, Lithograph & Chromolithograph

Burlingame Treaty:

Caricature is the purposeful distortion or exaggeration of physical characteristics of human beings or animals for the purpose of humor or satire. It can be flattering or as is most often the case, quite the opposite.  It is an important tool in political or editorial art.  In that genre, politicians or entertainers are frequently caricatured for dramatic effect. Human beings are made taller, skinnier, shorter, more obese than in real life. Once conceived by an editorial cartoonist, a famous person’s caricature will seldom change. Read more>>


The term “coolie” is most commonly associated with Chinese Americans being depicted as an involuntary slave labor force, forced cheap labor, or indentured servitude/ contract labor which may have been unwittingly entered into (by the Chinese laborer) and thereby  rendering to the worker, an extremely unfair rate of pay or exploitation and victimization.  It differs from someone offering to undercut one’s rate of pay in order to be competitive – terms of working which are  willingly negotiated. But in the United States at the very beginning of the Chinese arrivalto work in the gold mines, and through the the development of intense anti-Chinese hysteria from the 1870s on,  the concept of  “cheap labor” was used synonymously with “coolie labor” by those sympathetic to the cause of the white workingmen labor movement. To this growing faction of Americans, “coolies” were no different than slaves. “Coolies” undercut all the labor competition. Employers would not hire white men as long as they had a source of “coolies” to do the work instead. Read more>>


Dehumanization is a technique which intentionally depicts a human being as anything other than a human. Representation of an individual or groups of similar individuals with animal or bestial characteristics turns a dignified human being or members of a race, into an “other.”  Read more>>


Immigration historian John Higman suggests that American nativism “should be defined as intense opposition to an internal minority on the ground of its foreign (i.e., “un-American”) connections. Highman suggests that feelings or intensities of nativism rise and fall as a barometer to overall nationalistic feelings (4). He suggests three themes run through nativist sentiment: Reformation and the hatred of Roman Catholicism, fear of foreign radicals and political revolutionaries,  and lastly racial nativism, with the sense that America was the domain of, or belonged people from the Anglo-Saxon race. Read more>>


The queue (pronounced cue) was a distinctive hairstyle of the Jürchen-Manchurian or Manchu tribes that occupied the northeast region of what is now modern China. Read more>>

Radical Republicanism/Liberalism:

In the twenty first century, being a “liberal” is often pitted against its counterpart “conservative” with each position slinging the other term as an insult.  For conservatives, Singh suggests that describing one as a “liberal” infers that person has a “reckless disregard for traditional values and moral virtue.” Read more>>


Symbolism and stereotypes are closely related but also completely different. Nast used symbols extensively in his artistic commentary.  Donald Dewey referred to  symbols as an artists’ shorthand. I agree with that assessment.  While prolific use of symbols can be viewed by some as a method of stereotyping an individual, group or race by way of reduction to a single image or metaphor. In Nast’s era,  creating a symbol to represent a larger whole formed from necessity of time.  Hand drawn images needed to be meticulously carved- yet rendered quickly. Nast often contributed several drawings to a single weekly issue. He needed to have stock images that he could quickly reproduce  and incorporate into his scenes. See also Animal Symbolism Read more>>


Webster’s Dictionary offers a very succinct definition of “stereotype.” It reads: 1. to make a stereotype from a.) to repeat without a variation b.) to develop a mental stereotype about.

Loaded with meaning and consequence, “negative” is frequently paired alongside stereoptype. Stereotypes are rarely considered positive. Read more>>

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Thomas Nast's cartoons of Chinese Americans

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