Women in Magazines: Research, Representation, Production, Consumption

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Women in Magazines: Research, Representation, Production, Consumption

In November 2011, Woman's Weekly celebrated its 100 year birthday by including a reproduction of the first issue inside the centenary edition. A month later, US Vogue launched a digital archive containing every page published since 1892. These events remind us of the rich history which lies behind titles that continue to grace the shelves marked 'women's magazines' on both sides of the Atlantic. Academics, especially feminist scholars, have long explored this history and the relationship between women and the journals that target them, but in recent years this interest appears to have declined. 'Women in Magazines' seeks to reassert the importance of magazines, in Britain and America, as a significant source for women's and gender historians, by showcasing their latest research.

The conference is broad in scope, reflecting the interests of its supporting organisations: the Centre for the Historical Record (Kingston University), the Centre for American, Transatlantic and Caribbean History (Brunel University), the Society for the History of Women in the Americas (SHAW), the Women's History Network and The Women's Library. It will offer a platform for examining the role of women as producers, subjects and consumers of magazines; it will also explore magazines as important historical records that are being made more accessible by digital technology. The remit is neither bound by time period nor genre: women's relationships with specialist journals, trade magazines and non-gender specific lifestyle publications such as Ebony are of equal interest to traditional 'women's magazines'. The aim is to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue alongside discussion between scholars and representatives of the contemporary magazine industry. An edited collection based on papers presented is planned.

The conference will be hosted by Kingston University, London (UK), on 22-23 June 2012. Abstracts of 250 words should be sent to womeninmagazines@gmail.com by 9 March.

The keynote speakers are Noliwe Rooks (Princeton University), author of works including Ladies' Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture That Made Them, and Penny Tinkler (University of Manchester), whose publications include Constructing Girlhood: popular magazines for girls growing up in England, 1920-1950.

Key themes for the event are consumption, lifecycles and age, race and ethnicity, sexuality, social class, geography and location. Suggested topics could include, but are not limited to:
Advertising and marketing
Advice and education
Archives and digitization
Beauty and fashion
Celebrity culture
Editors and journalists
Entertainment and gossip
Gender ideology
Methodology and literature
Notions of public and private
Politics and citizenship
Readers, reading and reception studies
Relationships and the family
The home
The magazine industry
Work and careers

As well as thematic papers, we encourage reflections upon how we use magazines as a historic record. We also encourage papers that look at the 19th century or earlier and particularly welcome submissions that are transnational or comparative in scope.

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