By Stephanie L. Hawkins

In an period sooner than reasonable shuttle, nationwide Geographic not just served because the first glimpse of numerous different worlds for its readers, however it helped them confront sweeping ancient swap. there has been a time whilst its hide, with the unmistakable yellow body, on each espresso desk, in each ready room. In American Iconographic, Stephanie L. Hawkins lines National Geographic’s upward push to cultural prominence, from its first book of nude photos in 1896 to the Fifties, while the magazine’s trademark visible and textual motifs chanced on their means into comic strip cartoon, renowned novels, and picture buying and selling at the "romance" of the magazine’s specific visible fare.

National Geographic remodeled neighborhood colour into international tradition via its creation and movement 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 renowned 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 voters. greater than a window at the global, nationwide Geographic offered a window on American cultural attitudes and drew forth numerous complicated responses to social and ancient adjustments led to by means of immigration, the nice melancholy, and international war.

Drawing at the nationwide Geographic Society’s archive of readers’ letters and its founders’ correspondence, Hawkins unearths how the magazine’s participation within the "culture undefined" was once no longer so simple as students have assumed. Letters from the magazine’s earliest readers supply a massive 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 enlargement overseas, yet its readers have been hugely conscious of those representational concepts, 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 exhibit a extra enlightened National Geographic invested in a sophisticated imaginative and prescient of a world human family.

A interesting narrative of the way a cultural establishment can impact and embrace public attitudes, this booklet is the definitive account of an iconic magazine’s distinct position within the American imagination.

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Extra resources for American Iconographic: National Geographic, Global Culture, and the Visual Imagination (Cultural Frames, Framing Culture)

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According to his methodology, New England’s geography would be compared to other similar regions around the world. 19 Geographic education of this sort fostered an associational way of thinking in which identifying physical geographic similarities across national boundaries also primed the mind for taking the imaginative leaps necessary for thinking globally. In National Geographic’s new kind of geographic education, readers were not just schooled in the comparative method, but in the proper use 36 ■ American Iconographic of the imagination for civic ends.

35 A term that has changed with the times, “romance” has meant different things to its audiences at different historical junctures. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it often connoted the masculine pursuit of distant and unfamiliar lands, adventures in “virgin” wildernesses, exotic spectacle, and fantastic trials and escapes. The popular genre of romance adventure, with its stereotyped “noble savages” and its emotional idealism, invited Americans to project themselves in imagination into distant places around the globe.

S. ”25 Despite the magazine’s editorial policy of nonpartisanship, each of these major passages in history was captured thematically in National Geographic, from its emphasis on geography as a component of progressive education and visual literacy (chapter 2); to its articles on insect and plant “immigrants” from 1900 to 1910 (chapter 3); to its role in educating foreign-born soldiers during the First World War and its coverage of fascism before the Second World War (chapter 4); to its genre of “jungle housekeeping” articles, spanning the interwar period to just after the Second World War (chapter 5); and finally, to popular spoofs of National Geographic’s iconic pantheon of photographer-explorers and exotic women of color (chapter 6).

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