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Wild Eyes, Unkempt Beards, and Round Black Bombs: Constructing the Image of the Anarchist in Late 19th Century Public Discourse

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Abstract:

This essay examines the rhetorical construction of the image of the anarchist in U.S. public media between 1886 and 1901. It analyzes editorial cartoons and engravings in the Chicago Tribune and Harper’s Weekly, as well as verbal descriptions of anarchist labor activists in editorials in these publications, arguing that the image of the wild eyed, bearded anarchist worked to suture together anxieties about labor activism, immigration, and political violence in a period of intense labor unrest. This image would have continuing salience for public criticism of the labor movement well into the 1930s, and has continuing relevance as a contemporary trope for the delegitimization of popular protest. Understanding the construction of the image of the anarchist in the national press at the turn of the 20th century sheds light on the rhetorical construction and deployment of what Janice Edwards, Carol Winkler, and Dana Cloud have referred to as “visual ideographs” – images whose form can be appropriated for deployment in a variety of political contexts, and that index broader ideological structures of social inequality when investigated. The image of the anarchist was set against the image of the police officer, and the conflict between these two figures helped define the legitimacy of different forms of political violence and the legibility of political motives. This essay concludes by meditating on the representation of police officers as guarantors of law and order, which served to deflect public attention away from labor conflicts by representing them as conflicts between law and lawlessness.
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Association:
Name: NCA 96th Annual Convention
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http://www.natcom.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p423637_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Wade, Walter. "Wild Eyes, Unkempt Beards, and Round Black Bombs: Constructing the Image of the Anarchist in Late 19th Century Public Discourse" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 96th Annual Convention, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p423637_index.html>

APA Citation:

Wade, W. "Wild Eyes, Unkempt Beards, and Round Black Bombs: Constructing the Image of the Anarchist in Late 19th Century Public Discourse" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 96th Annual Convention, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p423637_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: This essay examines the rhetorical construction of the image of the anarchist in U.S. public media between 1886 and 1901. It analyzes editorial cartoons and engravings in the Chicago Tribune and Harper’s Weekly, as well as verbal descriptions of anarchist labor activists in editorials in these publications, arguing that the image of the wild eyed, bearded anarchist worked to suture together anxieties about labor activism, immigration, and political violence in a period of intense labor unrest. This image would have continuing salience for public criticism of the labor movement well into the 1930s, and has continuing relevance as a contemporary trope for the delegitimization of popular protest. Understanding the construction of the image of the anarchist in the national press at the turn of the 20th century sheds light on the rhetorical construction and deployment of what Janice Edwards, Carol Winkler, and Dana Cloud have referred to as “visual ideographs” – images whose form can be appropriated for deployment in a variety of political contexts, and that index broader ideological structures of social inequality when investigated. The image of the anarchist was set against the image of the police officer, and the conflict between these two figures helped define the legitimacy of different forms of political violence and the legibility of political motives. This essay concludes by meditating on the representation of police officers as guarantors of law and order, which served to deflect public attention away from labor conflicts by representing them as conflicts between law and lawlessness.


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