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Looking Awry at Georgian Caricature

Lacan and the Satirists

David Morgan

This article investigates the applicability of certain aspects of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the study of visual satire and/or caricature. Lacan’s treatment of the phenomenon of visual anamorphosis can provide a fruitful new way of thinking about the art of caricature. The visual exaggerations and distortions central to the art of caricature function as they do, as works of social or political satire, by virtue of the extent to which they expose the psychological emptiness or hollowness (castration) which inheres in all human social or symbolic activity. This argument is then applied to the political circumstances prevailing in late Georgian England: in particular, the visual satirical treatment devoted to the nature and status of the monarchy during this period is examined in the light of foregoing arguments.