AMCS3069 American Magazine Culture: Journalism, Advertising and Fiction from Independence to the Internet Age
From Sarah Woodcock
The magazine has been one of the most accessible and one of the most influential cultural forms in America since the mid-18th century. From the wide-ranging political and literary magazines of this founding period through the emergence of specialized and mass-market periodicals in the 19th century to the counter-cultural and consumerist magazines of the 20th century this distinctive mode of publication has reflected the tensions and ideals of a rapidly developing society. Using a broad range of representative magazines from different eras this module will encourage students to get to grips with how American culture has shaped, and been shaped by, the periodical, and it will also introduce them to some of the unique literary and institutional qualities of the magazine. Primary sources covered on this module are likely to include The Dial (est. 1840), Harper's (est. 1850), The New Yorker (est. 1925), Life (est. 1936) and Rolling Stone (est. 1967). Looked at in the context of their times such sources show us how Americans have long engaged with and debated their own identity through the prism of print, as well as the ways in which this self-definition has changed across time. Moreover, alongside the magazine's regular testing of new political and cultural concepts we will be able to see how the periodical form itself embraced other emerging media: illustration, photography, popular music etc. The main content-spine through each week will be a focus on changes in the nature of American journalism, the rise of modern advertising, and the development of the short story as a form, as well as the interactions between these three elements. In addition to the standard lecture/seminar set-up the module will also incorporate a series of workshops focusing on hands-on study of hard copies of particular publications.