Mr. Punch at the Great Exhibition: Stereotypes of Yankee and Hebrew in 1851
In his panoptic study of the early years of Punch, Richard Altick comments on the periodical’s traditional “mild xenophobia” in its depiction of foreigners and outsiders.2 The intention of the present essay is to try to substantiate this by reference to the magazine’s representation of two particular groups, the Jews (or “Hebrews”) and the Americans (or “Yankees”) in the year of the Great Exhibition. A principal reason for selecting these two groups is to probe the strange variance between Punch’s sharp yet self-righteous condemnation of America’s failure to free its slaves, and its simultaneous maintenance of an almost incessandy negative stance toward the emancipation of Britain’s Jews. Coincidentally, on the very day—May 1, 1851—when the Great Exhibition opened its doors to the public, Parliament was debating Jewish emancipation, causing the prime minister to miss the grand inauguration. The two volumes of Punch for 1851, issued exactly ten years after Mark Lemon with others had founded the journal, are volumes XX and XXI. In many respects, the attitudes represented in these two volumes characterize many of the intriguing contradictions and paradoxes concerning race and nationhood that are evident in the early years of the periodical as a whole and, by extension, in the bourgeois world of mid-nineteenth-century England.
KeywordsAmerican Custom American Manufacture Ritual Murder White Slavery Crystal Palace
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Some Further Reading
- 2.David Vital, A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789–1939, Oxford History of Modern Europe, gen. ed. Lord Bullock and Sir William Deakin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
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- 5.Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).Google Scholar
- 6.Linda Colley, Britons: Eorging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
- 7.Alan H. Singer, “Great Britain or Judea Nova? National Identity, Property, and the Jewish Naturalization Controversy of 1753,” in British Romanticism and the Jews: History, Culture, Literature, ed. Sheila A. Spector (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2002), 19–36.Google Scholar
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