Download American Iconographic: National Geographic, Global Culture, by Stephanie L. Hawkins PDF

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By Stephanie L. Hawkins

In an period ahead of reasonable go back and forth, nationwide Geographic not just served because the first glimpse of numerous different worlds for its readers, however it helped them confront sweeping historic swap. there has been a time while its conceal, with the unmistakable yellow body, looked to be on each espresso desk, in each ready room. In American Iconographic, Stephanie L. Hawkins lines National Geographic’s upward thrust to cultural prominence, from its first ebook of nude pictures in 1896 to the Nineteen Fifties, while the magazine’s trademark visible and textual motifs stumbled on their method into caricature comic strip, renowned novels, and movie buying and selling at the "romance" of the magazine’s designated visible fare.

National Geographic reworked neighborhood colour into international tradition via its creation and flow of conveniently identifiable cultural icons. The adventurer-photographer, the unique lady of colour, and the intrepid explorer have been a part of the magazine’s "institutional aesthetic," a visible and textual repertoire that drew upon well known nineteenth-century literary and cultural traditions. This aesthetic inspired readers to spot themselves as contributors not just in an elite society yet, ironically, as either american citizens and international electorate. greater than a window at the global, nationwide Geographic provided a window on American cultural attitudes and drew forth various advanced responses to social and old adjustments caused via immigration, the nice melancholy, and international war.

Drawing at the nationwide Geographic Society’s archive of readers’ letters and its founders’ correspondence, Hawkins finds how the magazine’s participation within the "culture undefined" was once now not so effortless as students have assumed. Letters from the magazine’s earliest readers supply an enormous intervention during this narrative of passive spectatorship, revealing how readers resisted and revised National Geographic’s authority. Its pictures and articles celebrated American self-reliance and imperialist growth out of the country, yet its readers have been hugely conscious of those representational ideas, and alert to inconsistencies among the magazine’s editorial imaginative and prescient and its photos and textual content. Hawkins additionally illustrates how the journal truly inspired readers to question Western values and determine with these past the nation’s borders. Chapters dedicated to the magazine’s perform of photographing its photographers on project and to its style of husband-wife adventurers demonstrate a extra enlightened National Geographic invested in a sophisticated imaginative and prescient of a world human family.

A attention-grabbing narrative of the way a cultural establishment can impact and embrace public attitudes, this ebook is the definitive account of an iconic magazine’s exact position within the American imagination.

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As a case in point, on December 1, 1940, a Mrs. Elisabeth Howe Terflinger wrote to the NGS to praise an issue of National Geographic that had appeared twenty-seven years earlier. Inspired by an April 1913 issue on Machu Picchu in Peru, she and her husband traveled, The Icon and Its Readers ■ 21 magazine in hand, to the ancient Incan ruins. “We spent the night there,” she wrote, “to see a full moon, behind a mackerel sky, shooting shafts of silver at random all over the peaks and we knew then that National Geographic had pointed the way to a wonderful experience.

Subsequent cultural appropriations of the magazine’s iconic features, for example, draw on its capacity simultaneously to disorient perception and to engage in unintentional self-parody. Unlike natural history museums or geographic textbooks, National Geographic greeted viewers with a seemingly random and discordant array of geographic subjects. The same issue in which the laudatory “Useful Facts” (June 1907) appeared also contained the following: “Our Fish Immigrants,” by Dr. Hugh M. S. Bureau of Fisheries; “The Big Horn Mountains,” by N.

The “the Zulus, Matabili, Basutos,” he noted, “possess some excellent traits, but are horribly cruel when once they have smelled blood” (356). Whether National Geographic readers consciously identified with the sophisticated cultural tastes of the English or the humble agrarian roots of the Boers, they must have been struck by how little the photograph “Zulu Bride and Bridegroom” had to do with the article’s content. Posed for the camera at the height of ritualized matrimony, and against the backdrop of warring imperial factions, the Zulu couple exemplifies the kind of family-minded civic virtue that National Geographic’s first generation of readers would have taken to heart.

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