Loyola at a Glance
English professor co-authors new book on women in the media
January 13, 2012
Katherine Adams, the Hutchinson Distinguished Professor and chair of the English Department at Loyola University New Orleans, recently collaborated with professors from the University of Tennessee to publish the new book, “Seeing the American Woman: 1880-1920.”
“Seeing the American Woman” explores multiple aspects of culture, from the circus and film to newspapers and magazines, to examine the depictions of women at the dawn of mass media that would remain influential throughout the twentieth century.
According to the authors, from 1880 to 1920, the first truly national visual culture developed in the United States as a result of the completion of the Pacific Railroad. Women, especially young and beautiful ones, found new lives shaped by their participation in that visual culture.
The resulting evolution saw a shift in the prevailing value system of what it meant to be a woman. The nineteenth century mindset that women were supposed to embody perfect virtue in all senses gave rise to new types of women based on a single feature—a type of hair, skin, dress or prop—including the Gibson Girl, the sob sister, the stunt girl, the exotic dancer and the bearded lady.
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