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Title:Graphic sensations: Vogue and the politics of the body, 1930-1945
Author(s):White, Rachel Roseborough
Director of Research:Weissman, Terri
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Weissman, Terri
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rosenthal, Lisa; Romberg, Kristin; Reagan, Leslie
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
20th century art
gender studies
Abstract:This dissertation analyzes the visual program and material body of American Vogue magazine, a publication dedicated to the modern woman, during two tumultuous decades before the mid-century. In the 1930s, images of the female body, as well as the composition of the page, radically changed, as snapshots, streamlined design, and modern dress reform energized the look and experience of reading Vogue. As the next decade brought war, Vogue documented men and women in the American Armed Forces stationed in Europe and transmitted images of burned, mutilated, and broken bodies back to readers at home. Cover photographs of active, healthy women in the 1930s would shift to highly stylized, fractured images of the female form in the 1940s. The visual modifications to Vogue in the 1930s and 1940s were not merely aesthetic, but heavily inflected by shifting cultural, social, and economic norms during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Analyzing images by key Vogue photographers such as Toni Frissell, Lee Miller, and Erwin Blumenfeld in relation to page layouts, typography, clothing design, and popular culture, this project uncovers how photography and design promoted new strategies to connect with white female communities and articulate evolving definitions of the body and subjectivity. I argue the photographers and art directors under consideration here enhanced the concept of the magazine as a haptic medium by creating visual forms that privileged sensorial connections. Whereas fashion magazines have traditionally been undervalued in academic scholarship, this dissertation draws on feminist theory and studies of materiality to situate Vogue as a crucial object for understanding how the politics of the body shaped mass media, as the magazine fashioned new perceptual experiences for engaging with, and translating, modern women and forms of femininity.
Issue Date:2019-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Rachel Roseborough White
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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