EVIL INCARNATE: GOULISH GIANTS, GRASPING HANDS, AND GRIM REAPERS AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY
Last week and this coming Saturday, FIU professor and Mellon grant recipient Ken Johnson has scheduled visits for his graduate and undergraduate students to The Wolfsonian-FIU library to view a presentation of items from the “dark side.”
The students are studying representations of evil—and where better than The Wolfsonian to explore the use of imagery designed to elicit fear and loathing.
The Wolfsonian possesses large collections of propaganda materials in a wide variety of formats. There is an abundance of WWI propaganda materials attacking the barbarism of the “Hun” and Prussian militarism.
Some materials from the period of the Great Depression portray Capitalist bankers and industrialists in a negative light; others use imagery that makes plain the evils of colonialism and British imperialism.
As Communism gained strength and the rival specter of fascism cast its long shadow over Europe in the post-World War I period, both sides spent a great deal of time and ink vilifying and “demonizing” the enemy.
By the time the Second World War erupted, the propagandists had already perfected their art for dehumanizing the enemy “others” and for eliciting sympathy for their innocent victims. Enemy leaders became cruel “monsters” with bloody hands even as enemy combatants became faceless harbingers of death and destruction.
I hope that the images included in today’s blog not only provide materials for consideration by the students in that class, but also send a chill down the spines of my readers in time for Halloween!