McCormack, M. (2009) 'Turning out for twenty-days amusement': the militia in Georgian satirical prints. Paper presented to: Civilians and War in Europe, c.1640-1815, University of Liverpool, 18-20 June 2009.
This paper will consider a key interface between the military and civilian worlds, the militia, and the ways in which this military instituion was visually represented in popular culture. The milita was a favourite subject for printmakers in the second half of the eighteenth century. The amateur soldier was undoubtedly an easy target for visual mockery, but this paper will suggest that the relationship between the satirical print and the militia was a close and reciprocal one. The classic ‘caricature’ and the ‘New Militia’ were the creation of one man, George Townshend, and their subsequent fortunes paralleled and intersected with one another. Visual representations both reflected and contributed towards the ongoing debate about the institution. Prints were a key vehicle in the agitation for militia reform and militia subjects were common during the embodiments of the American and French wars, exploring anxieties about military effectiveness, the large militia encampments and the implications of arming civilians. In particular, this paper will focus on questions of gender, exploring the various ways in which the prints insinuated that the militiaman’s masculinity was compromised: for example, he was frequently located in heterosocial quasidomesic settings or in the sexualised playground of the camp. A study of visual culture can therefore contribute to our understanding of the role of the militia in social, political and military commentary
Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Britain 1750-1800; military volunteering; satirical prints