Synopses & Reviews
This lively book explores how magazines became the first national mass medium in the United States and how they expressed a new American culture based on the dream of a better future. Matthew Schneirov argues that the birth of such popular magazines as Munsey's, McClure's, and Cosmopolitan helped to form the foundations of contemporary consumer culture. These magazines, which usurped genteel "family house magazines" such as Harper's Monthly and The Atlantic Monthly at the turn of the century, actively spread ideas of abundance, social control, and justice. Revolutionary concepts and products from the skyscraper to the camera, the automobile, and the new-fangled "flying machine" were extolled in their pages as icons of the technological promise that would transform modern living. By promoting consumer culture, these dynamic magazines galvanized the national mood. Headed by savvy, cosmopolitan editors who were equally committed to the cultural and intellectual education of their fellow Americans and the growth of mass print culture, these publications encouraged readers to expand their personal horizons to accommodate a spirit of progress. Articles on consumerism, therapeutic culture, and social welfare were juxtaposed with the exposes of the "muckrakers" - a new breed of journalists including Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen White who investigated municipal and corporate corruption in the "Gilded Age" of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Tammany Hall. This vision transformed the traditional and elitist view of culture as a repository of timeless and fixed virtues to a springboard of ideas and energies directed toward achieving a cohesive, cooperative society. Engaged in the"whirlpool of real life", the popular magazines pointed to the vitality of consumerism and the industrial cities as sure signs of progress. Informative and stylish, as well as expansive in its eclectic coverage of the popular magazine, Schneirov brilliantly shows how this pheno
Includes bibliographical references (p. -344) and index.