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Beyond Utility: Pushing Frontiers in Women's Monthlies: Modern Woman 1943-1951

Hackney, Fiona (2020) Beyond Utility: Pushing Frontiers in Women's Monthlies: Modern Woman 1943-1951. In: Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1940s-2000s: The Postwar and Contemporary Period. The Edinburgh History of Women's Periodical Culture in Britain . Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. ISBN 9781474469982

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‘Beyond Utility’ focuses on Modern Woman, a mid-range women’s monthly magazine, in the years during and immediately after the Second World War. It argues that a new consciousness of the power of female citizenship emerged at this time, which remains significant today. Building on observations about an ‘emergent feminist consciousness’ in the magazine Housewife from 1943 (Forster 2015: 47) and claims that from 1946 the ‘frontiers of modern women’s journalism’ were being pushed back due to increased controversial content (White 1970: 130), the chapter uncovers how this new consciousness unfolds in Modern Woman’s editorial, fashion and domestic features in 1943, 1946 and 1951. It includes new material about the publication’s editorial team and journalistic decision-making and, contextualising the shifting discourses in editorial, advertising and illustration, identifies how the publication offered readers new identities and affordances as active, politicised citizens. The chapter appears in the collection, Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1940s-2000s, in the series The Edinburgh History of Women’s Periodical Culture in Britain, which has been formative in bringing the latest scholarship on women’s print culture to national and international audiences. This collection spans domestic, cultural and feminist magazines, incorporates ephemera, novels and digital magazines and draws attention to the diverse discourses, messages, formats, readerships and appeals that contributed to, challenged, or informed British women’s print culture. Edited by Forster and Hollows, authorities on women’s media and print culture, the collection is interdisciplinary and includes contributions from young scholars and such established figures as Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge) and Janet Floyd (KCL) The collection employs interview, textual analysis and industry commentary and Hackney’s chapter is significant for its combination of textual and visual analysis, contextualising new readings of primary material within wider social, political, economic discourses in publishing, fashion journalism, and the home.

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