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
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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