SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Amy Matthewson

BA (University of British Columbia), MA (University of Victoria)
  • Teaching


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Amy Matthewson
Email address:
Thesis title:
Mr. Punch's Sino-British Relations, 1841-1901: Images, Imperialism, & Imagination
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My research examines representations of China and the Chinese in the popular British satirical magazine 'Punch' during the Victorian era. The aim of this research is to question and evaluate the production of knowledge through representations in textual and visual satire as well as investigate the economic, political and socio-cultural conditions that produced this narrative. Punch provides an interesting case study as it occupied a central role in the evolution of the image Victorians had of themselves and the caricatures of the Chinese form a useful counterpoint. Previous scholarship examining visual representations of China and the Chinese in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries focus primarily on the creation and maintenance of stereotypes that were familiar to Britons. Those who incorporate cartoons into historical research tend to select a sample in order to buttress an argument; however, by examining Punch’s series of cartoons throughout the Victorian period, we gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complicated and often contradictory nature of this visual source.Further complicating the investigation of cartoons is the careful considerations required when reading captions or accompaniments and exploring the tensions that may exist between image and text. This research argues that the images Punch created present alternate symbols of China within the British imaginaries and thereby demonstrate a more nuanced form of the country and Britain’s engagement with it.


  • Association for Asian Studies, Washington, U.S.A. (March 2018)
    Comparative Yellow Perilisms: Imagination, Reaction, and Continuation (presenter)
  • The Royal Asiatic Society, London, U.K. (February 2018)
    Mr. Punch and Chinamania: Blue Willowware in 'Punch' Magazine, 1874-1880 (presenter)
  • SOAS History Society, London, U.K. (November 2017)
    Visualising the ‘Other’ in British Caricature and Chinese Films (co-presenter)
  • The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany (July 2017)
    China and Japan as Caricature in 'Punch' Magazine in Victorian Britain (presenter)
  • Nordic Association of China Studies, Aarhus, Denmark (June 2017)
    Younghy-Bung-Boo-Hoo: He Hurtee me Welly Much!: British Construction of ‘Chineseness’ in 'Punch' Magazine, 1894 (presenter)
  • International Congress on Visual Culture, Barcelona, Spain (May 2017)
    Visualising the First Sino-Japanese War in 'Punch' Magazine, 1894-1895 (presenter)
  • Association for Asian Studies, Toronto, Canada (March 2017)
    Cruel Despots & Childlike ‘Chinamen’: The Chinese as Caricatures in 'Punch' Magazine during the Victorian Era (co-organiser and presenter)
  • Institute of Historical Research History Lab Seminars, London, U.K. (February 2017)
    Visualising the Chinese: British Construction of ‘John Chinaman’ in 'Punch' Magazine, 1841-1901 (presenter)
  • Institute of Historical Research Doctoral Seminars, London, U.K. (January 2017)
    Humorous or Humiliating? Satirical Representations of the Chinese at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (presenter)
  • Joint East Asian Studies Conference, London, U.K. (September 2016)
    The Power of 'Punch': Satirical Representations of the Chinese, 1841-1860 (presenter)


  • British Association of Chinese Studies (BACS)
  • Association of Asian Studies (AAS)


  • H201: Historical Research (SOAS)
  • H212: Frontiers in History (SOAS)