Turning the Century: Essays in Media and Cultural Studies

By Carol A. Stabile | Go to book overview

creasingly, in large ad campaigns like those for Pearline, the work and gendered body of "man" from those of "woman."

In glimpses, then, race contextualized the margin of old housework and old "people" on magazines' advertising pages, and thus the marginal forms of black types were central to the overwhelming narrative order and definition of consumption and consumers, including the professional-managerial, consuming New Woman. Without the decisive orchestration associated with authored narratives, race navigated gendered imaginings that sped pervasively toward culmination in consumer versions of the oldest American Progress story. In the preceding pages, I have left out many of the challenges to this new consumer order that I have analyzed in other contexts, 34 because I wanted to underline the tenacity of a style and its literal formation and dissemination of a social order despite criticism-a style and form and order that still circulate today. Like cultural sponges, just as they do today, early brand types sucked up "hot" and controversial media stories into crystallized plots and poured them with near immediacy into utopian endings in memorable, if not entirely believable, fragments. The power of national media emerged, I suggest, as magazines styled reading materials with the organization of stories pitched toward the speed of advertising's virtual epiphanies, where controversy was quickly vanishing while the mess of "the old" reappeared in evident muddle on the bodies of "Negroes."

As in advertising today, criticism was a flash in the pan at the turn of the twentieth century. Criticism's mediated space was negligible or lightweight in relation to the consistency of the incorporation of contest and the tenacious darkness of "the old" -- and more recently, "the bad" -- regressive types. Beyond individual campaigns or articles, the New Woman's future and the Old Negro's past were reinforced and disseminated nationally by the powerful virtual epiphany of advertising. The virtual epiphany continues to make the complexity of the past disappear, as it works in tandem with the increasing global expansion of commodity marketing. It continues to be produced to advance the control of commodity markets, in turn producing the communities of brand advertising as well as those of other media genres, regenerating a lifelike force of its own.


Notes
1
See Beecher and Stowe 1869, and Beecher 1873.
2
Beecher and Stowe 1869, ii.
3
Rayne 1884.
4
Diaz 1974, 53.
5
In addition to mass-circulation magazines, regional magazines like the American Farmer, the Continent, the Home Manager, Hearth and Home, and the Household often carried articles on the number and rigor of what scholars like Degler ( 1980), Green ( 1983), and Ohmann ( 1996) refer to as self-sufficient household tasks. These articles regularly connected the overwhelming number of such tasks with the disintegration of women's health. Norton Juster has collected and edited a wide array of excerpts from ar

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