The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media

Overview

From the Gibson Girl to the flapper, from the vamp to the New Woman, Carolyn Kitch traces mass media images of women to their historical roots on magazine covers, unveiling the origins of gender stereotypes in early-twentieth-century American culture.

Kitch examines the years from 1895 to 1930 as a time when the first wave of feminism intersected with the rise of new technologies and media for the reproduction and dissemination of visual images. Access to suffrage, higher ...

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Overview

From the Gibson Girl to the flapper, from the vamp to the New Woman, Carolyn Kitch traces mass media images of women to their historical roots on magazine covers, unveiling the origins of gender stereotypes in early-twentieth-century American culture.

Kitch examines the years from 1895 to 1930 as a time when the first wave of feminism intersected with the rise of new technologies and media for the reproduction and dissemination of visual images. Access to suffrage, higher education, the professions, and contraception broadened women's opportunities, but the images found on magazine covers emphasized the role of women as consumers: suffrage was reduced to spending, sexuality to sexiness, and a collective women's movement to individual choices of personal style. In the 1920s, Kitch argues, the political prominence of the New Woman dissipated, but her visual image pervaded print media.

With seventy-five photographs of cover art by the era's most popular illustrators, The Girl on the Magazine Cover shows how these images created a visual vocabulary for understanding femininity and masculinity, as well as class status. Through this iconic process, magazines helped set cultural norms for women, for men, and for what it meant to be an American, Kitch contends.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[An] engaging, insightful study."" (Library Journal)

For the study of popular culture and its symbiotic relation to feminist history, this book is a major asset. (Martha Banta, University of California, Los Angeles)

Carolyn Kitch's book represents a valuable new way of looking at and understanding the significance of images of women in mass circulation magazines. (Maurine Beasley, University of Maryland at College Park)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807849781
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Kitch is associate professor of journalism at Temple University. She is a former senior editor of Good Housekeeping and associate editor of McCall's.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2005

    Women in the Media: A Brief Account

    America is more than familiar with the stereotypical blonde bombshells that grace the covers of magazines, television programs, movies, and advertisements. In Carolyn Kitch's book she is able to outline the origins of how stereotypical images came about. Her extensive background in the media along with the use of actual magazine illustrations allows her to present her arguments in a way that anyone with an interest in women's history in the media can understand. Kitch's book maintains the reader's interest by citing specific examples, providing information about the time period, and providing illustrations. Keeping a loosely chronological form allows the book to flow, but the ideas of the time period are more important to Kitch than keeping a pattern. She breaks at appropriate points to discuss alternate visions that challenged and reinforced stereotypes in the media. While Kitch's book is effective, it is not extensive. Its sheer size just doesn't allow Kitch to get as in depth as she could. She promises so much in the introduction, but isn't able to deliver all that she promises. The books briefness keeps it from being extensive, but it is still able to provide me with a more organized knowledge of how stereotypes of women in the media such as the ever-popular blonde bombshell came about.

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