Imagining Gender, Nation and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s

Imagining Gender, Nation and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s

By Rachael Alexander

Anthem Studies in Book History, Publishing and Print Culture

Offering the first comparative study of 1920s’ US and Canadian print cultures, ‘Imagining Gender, Nation and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s’ comparatively examines the highly influential ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ (1883–2014) and the often-overlooked ‘Canadian Home Journal’ (1905–1958), revealing how they constructed their imagined audience as readers, consumers and citizens.

Hardback, 258 Pages

ISBN:9781785273476

November 2021

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Offering the first comparative study of 1920s’ US and Canadian print cultures, ‘Imagining Gender, Nation and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s’ examines the highly influential ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ (1883–2014) and the often-overlooked ‘Canadian Home Journal’ (1905–1958). American magazines were, in the main, established earlier than their Canadian counterparts, and the ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ was pioneering in the development of the stylistic and economic model of the modern mass-market magazine. Unsurprisingly the ‘Canadian Home Journal’ – and Canadian magazines more generally – made use of the tried-and-tested methods developed south of the 49th parallel. This, combined with comparatively far smaller circulations, has led to the unflattering assumption that Canadian magazines were merely derivative of their American predecessors. The present book argues that this is not the case, but that both magazines make use of – and manipulate – the conventions of the magazine form in notably different ways, as they work to construct their imagined audiences.

The issues published during the 1920s are particularly fascinating in this respect, since at this time both magazines were changing rapidly in response to technological modernity, altering gender economies and the burgeoning of consumer culture. This context underpins the presentation of ideals in each magazine: of self-improvement and aspiration, the home and domesticity, and fashion and beauty. Through detailed multilevel analysis, the book uncovers the complexities of the two magazines, opening out into broader conclusions about interwar mainstream magazines more generally. In the process, it also demonstrates the value of working at the intersection of humanities and social science disciplines.

Engaging with the latest advances in periodical studies, ‘Imagining Gender, Nation, and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s’ considers these magazines as collaborative literary texts, cultural artefacts and commercial products. It brings together literary perspectives with consumer culture theory in order to analyse how the ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ and ‘Canadian Home Journal’ negotiated competing literary and commercial demands and how they constructed their imagined audience as readers, consumers and citizens.

Reviews

Alexander’s thorough and detailed book is a welcome addition to North American periodical and print culture studies, offering a comparative reading of the Ladies’ Home Journal and the Canadian Home Journal through their divergent histories of production and consumption through the 1920s. Alexander shows that a “woman’s” magazine is far from the homogenous item that term implies and that closer study affords a more nuanced reading of the collaborative networks and cultural impulses behind the mass market magazine. Alexander’s work is a model of interdisciplinarity, successfully employing literary, consumer, popular, print, feminist and North American studies to re-read the significance and creative contexts of these popular magazines. — Sue Currell, Reader in American Literature, School of English, University of Sussex, UK

“Rachael Alexander’s study of Ladies’ Home Journal (1883-2014) and Canadian Home Journal (1905-1958), two of perhaps the most successful and longest-running women’s magazines of the twentieth century makes an important contribution to an emerging body of scholarship that has begun, over the last decade, to recover the way in which mainstream and middlebrow magazines of the twentieth century played an important role in shaping readers’ understanding of themselves and their worlds. Working at the intersection of a number of disciplines, it offers valuable insights to scholars of gender, consumer culture, cultural history, American Studies, Canadian Studies, literature, and print culture, opening up ways to undertake comparative cross-national analysis.” — Victoria Kuttainen, Associate Professor, English and Writing, James Cook University, Australia

Author Information

Rachael Alexander is an early-career researcher, based at the University of Strathclyde, UK, where she teaches English literature. Her research focuses on American, Canadian and British magazines published throughout the twentieth century, considering them as collaborative texts, cultural artefacts and commercial products.

Series

Anthem Studies in Book History, Publishing and Print Culture

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Two Home Journals: A Comparative Approach; 2. The Art of Femininity: Aspiration and Self-Improvement; 3. The Home and Domesticity: Readers, Consumers, Citizens; 4. Fashionable, Beautiful, Moral: Idealised Images of Femininity; Appendix: Content Analysis of Advertising from the Ladies’ Home Journal and Canadian Home Journal; Notes; References; Index.

Links

No Podcasts for this title.

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