The World Turned Upside-Down, or The Comical Metamorphosis. London: E. Ryland, ca. 1770. (Cotsen 360). In Tale X, the boys crown their teacher with a dunce cap and horse him (bend him over the back of another person) before beating him.
School boys in classrooms
The Taylors of Ongar, Signor Topsy Turvy’s Wonderful Magic Lantern, or The World Turned Upside-Down. London: B. Tabart, 1810 (Cotsen 7411). This poem was the work of Ann Taylor Gilbert, better known for her sentimental classic, “My Mother.”
A fish angling on the river bank
The World Turned Upside-Down Illustrated in 16 Wonderful Pictures. London: W. Darton, ca. 1830. (Cotsen 3883).
Hard working sheep and bears
Die verkehrte Welt in Bildern und Reimen., plate 2. Stuttgart: Hoffmann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1850. (Cotsen in process 6344921).
A girl or a nutcracker in the nursery
The Taylors of Ongar, Signor Topsy-Turvy’s Wonderful Magic Lantern. (Cotsen 7411). This savage little poem was also the work of Ann Taylor Gilbert.”
A hare, a turkey, and a tortoise in the kitchen
Committing sedition instead of being nutrition,
THEY CAN ALL TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!
Detail from the chapbook The World Turn’d Upside Down, or, The Folly of Man Exemplified in Twelve Comical Subjects, p. 2. London: W. Dicey, ca. 1720? (Cotsen 153885)
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s showstopping number, “Yorktown: The World Turned Upside Down,” uses examples that resonate deeply with a contemporary audience instead of the symbols of subversion from below that circulated in popular prints (and even earlier in the margins of medieval manuscripts). Just a few of the traditional role reversals are featured above, so here are two “World Turned Upside Down” prints to show more of them.