“Magazines: past, present, future” will ask what characterizes U.S. magazines of the past 250 years and explore the cultural and political work to which they aspired (for example: gender conformity/non-conformity? racial identity? Racial equality? nationalism? cosmopolitanism?). Meeting as a group in the Forsythe Seminar Room in Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Mary Church Terrell Library on weekdays from 1:30- 4 pm and also working individually and/or with the instruction participants will have hands-on access to print magazines in Oberlin’s outstanding collection, which goes back to the 1830s. We will also explore virtual magazines. Working in groups, collectively, or individually, participants will create magazines of their own.
Why “magazines?” Because, from the get-go, they have been a culturally and politically resonant medium, and because, whether as material objects or in electronic form, they are rewarding and often enjoyable to examine. The word “magazine” originally meant “storehouse” or “miscellany” and that concept aptly describes early U.S. magazines, which featured essays, fiction, poetry, news, advice, and more. With the take-off of print culture in the 1830s many magazines specialized (think Godey’s Ladies’ Book) and by mid-century some were avowedly political—The Atlantic Monthly ‘s founders opposed slavery, The Colored American Magazine promoted African American rights and culture. In the later nineteenth century innovations in visual reproduction meant that magazines also became more and more visually appealing. They also became increasingly embedded in commodity capitalism; many were financed more by advertisements than by subscriptions, The story is ongoing: magazines have always continued to evolve in content, appearance and appeal and by late in the twentieth century many were taking virtual rather than print form. The future of magazines is open-- and uncertain--something we will address.
There is no fee associated with this project.
Number of Students:
January 3rd - January 28th, 2020
Donald R. Longman Professor of English Emerita and Adjunct Professor of English