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

By Flamiano, Dolores | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

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


Flamiano, Dolores, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media. Carolyn Kitch. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001. 252 pp. $45 hbk. $18.95 pbk.

As the cliche goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. Readable, scholarly, and refreshingly interdisciplinary, Kitch's book focuses on images of women, as its title and cover image (a profile of the Gibson Girl) suggests. But it also accomplishes a much broader task, offering a historically grounded, theoretically informed, and nuanced analysis of the origins of visual stereotypes of gender (female and male) in the early part of the twentieth century. Kitch demonstrates that familiar visual stereotypes-such a defining element of the twentieth century's visual language of consumerism-have their roots in magazine cover art of the late nineteenth century.

Kitch traces female stereotypes such as the all-American girl and the sexy girl to their predecessors the Gibson Girl and the Flapper. By locating the origins of these images and analyzing the historical context that gave rise to them, she demonstrates how they not only sold magazines, but also powerful and persistent ideologies of gender, race, class, and national identity.

Through her insightful readings of cover art from magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies' Home Journal, The Masses, and The Crisis, Kitch illuminates a fascinating and important moment in American cultural history, when national advertising combined with national magazines to articulate and commercialize a new and uniquely American sense of identity. As Kitch persuasively argues, "Cover imagery of this era expressed-for the first time in media that were truly national-ideas about gender and about class, gradually diffusing those identity tensions by blending them into a larger notion about what it meant to be a 'typical American in the modern era. The broader editorial ideal in turn sold products through which middle-class American lifestyle could be pursued and attained. This symbiotic representational process would characterize the cultural work of mass media imagery into the twenty-first century."

Among the strengths of The Girl on the Magazine Cover is the author's combination of historical methodology and cultural theory. Kitch has seamlessly integrated her historical analysis of visual stereotypes with a wide range of relevant theoretical perspectives, including feminist theory, gender studies, art history, and the cultural history of advertising. Moreover, she presents sometimes dense theoretical concepts (such as Laura Mulvey's frequently cited notion of the male gaze) in language that is accessible without being overly facile. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

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

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.