Progressive-Era Comics: Childhood Visual Culture
On Thursday, December 8, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will host Lara Saguisag, a heralded comics and children’s literature scholar from New York University, for an evening lecture on the visual culture of childhood at the turn of the century. The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm in the Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.
The Progressive Era (1890-1920) was a period of intense social activism and reform. Committed citizens from this period sought to address a wide variety of problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption. Although their efforts ushered in profound change, greatly improving the living conditions of the politically excluded or marginalized, culture at large expressed significant anxieties over the new social codes emerging alongside this rapid transformation of everyday life.
For decades, academics have noted that cultural preoccupations play out in the visual culture—comics, movies, photographs, etc.—of a period. When trained correctly, it is possible to “read” these forms of entertainment to develop a more nuanced understanding of what goes unstated in other texts. To better understand the Progressive Era, Lara Saguisag’s research examines the proliferation of comic books headlined by children during that period, including Hogan’s Alley, Buster Brown, The Katzenjammer Kids, and Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Saguisag suggests that popular representations of children in these strips reflect the emerging social codes of industrial society while also prefiguring public expectations about the future boundaries of citizenship, particularly along the lines of race, class, and gender. Saguisag’s study is a tremendous contribution to comics scholarship and an important work for understanding the processes by which social dynamics evolve.
Incorrigibles and Innocents received the Charles Hatfield Book Prize from the Comics Studies Society, the Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Single Book from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, and an Eisner nomination for Best Academic/Scholarly Work.
Lara Saguisag is Associate Professor and the inaugural Georgiou Chair in Children’s Literacy and Literature in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt. She earned her Ph.D. in Childhood Studies from Rutgers University-Camden; MFA in Creative Writing from The New School; MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University; and BA in English from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Saguisag served on the Board of the Children’s Literature Association from 2019-2022.
‘Child’s Life at Eagle’s Nest’ for Grades K-4
The Vanderbilt will offer A Child’s Life at Eagle’s Nest, a program for children in grades K-4, on Saturday, December 10, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Learn about life at the Vanderbilt mansion, play games, listen to the music of the 1930s, and make a dreamy snow globe.Register
Beth Lazer-Limmer, Associate Director of Education, said, “children love having the mansion all to themselves. They play games in the halls and listen to old radio shows and jazz and make something that will remind them of the fun they had.”
Vanderbilt Welcomes First Responder as Guests
The Vanderbilt will welcome First Responders and their families as guests by offering them free general admission on National First Responders Day, Friday, October 28, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Sponsored by Northwell Health.
First responders will be asked for ID cards or proof of affiliation.
“We salute the brave men and women who make sacrifices and face danger every day to protect our communities,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt. (This includes police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical service personnel.)
“We’re offering free admission because these people are our neighbors and they provide essential services,” Wayland-Morgan said. “It’s hard on their spouses, families, and children. A fun day at the Vanderbilt is one way to thank them.”
‘The Sinister Beauty Of Carnivorous Plants’
Veterans, Active Military Invited as Museum Guests
The Vanderbilt will thank veterans and active military personnel and their families for their extraordinary service when it invites them as guests on Veterans Day weekend, Friday, November 11, from 12:00 to 4:00, and on Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13, from 11:00 to 4:00. Sponsored by Northwell Health.
The Museum will offer them free general admission plus guided Mansion tours and Planetarium shows. (Veterans’ proof of military service, or active-duty military ID is required for complimentary guest admission.)
Veterans Day – which commemorates the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day – honors veterans of all wars.
The Vanderbilt salutes veterans and active military personnel in honor of the Vanderbilt family’s 132-year participation in U.S. military history – from the War of 1812 through World War II. William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), an accomplished sailor and yachtsman, served in the Navy during World War I and later was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
In 1941, the U.S. government had purchased Mr. Vanderbilt’s Sikorsky amphibious plane for wartime duty. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the horrific destruction of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought Mr. Vanderbilt’s support to help defend the nation.
Mr. Vanderbilt gave his 264-foot yacht Alva to the Navy, which converted it to a gunboat, the USS Plymouth. (Before the war, he moored the Alva near the mansion, in Northport Bay.) The Plymouth was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on August 4, 1943.