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

By Stephanie L. Hawkins

In an period ahead of reasonable trip, nationwide Geographic not just served because the first glimpse of numerous different worlds for its readers, however it helped them confront sweeping historic switch. 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 thrust to cultural prominence, from its first ebook of nude pictures in 1896 to the Fifties, while the magazine’s trademark visible and textual motifs came across their means into comic strip comic strip, renowned novels, and movie buying and selling at the "romance" of the magazine’s specified visible fare.

National Geographic remodeled neighborhood colour into worldwide tradition via its construction and stream of easily 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 participants not just in an elite society yet, ironically, as either americans and international voters. greater than a window at the international, nationwide Geographic offered a window on American cultural attitudes and drew forth various complicated responses to social and old adjustments led to via 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 now not so elementary as students have assumed. Letters from the magazine’s earliest readers provide a big intervention during this narrative of passive spectatorship, revealing how readers resisted and revised National Geographic’s authority. Its images and articles celebrated American self-reliance and imperialist growth overseas, yet its readers have been hugely conscious of those representational innovations, and alert to inconsistencies among the magazine’s editorial imaginative and prescient and its pictures 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 task and to its style of husband-wife adventurers display a extra enlightened National Geographic invested in a sophisticated imaginative and prescient of an international human family.

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

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S. Geological Survey; “Picturesque Paramaribo: The City That Was Exchanged for New York,” by Mrs. Harriet Chalmers Adams; “An Impression of the Guiana Wilderness,” by Professor Angelo Heilprin of Yale University; “Fishes That Build Nests and Care for Their Young,” by Dr. Theodore Gill; “Notes on the Remarkable Habits of Certain Turtles and Lizards,” by H. A. Largelamb, an anagram for Alexander Graham Bell. This discordant array of “geographic” subjects is at odds with the conventions of carefully orchestrated museum curation.

Hugh M. S. Bureau of Fisheries; “The Big Horn Mountains,” by N. H. S. Geological Survey; “Picturesque Paramaribo: The City That Was Exchanged for New York,” by Mrs. Harriet Chalmers Adams; “An Impression of the Guiana Wilderness,” by Professor Angelo Heilprin of Yale University; “Fishes That Build Nests and Care for Their Young,” by Dr. Theodore Gill; “Notes on the Remarkable Habits of Certain Turtles and Lizards,” by H. A. Largelamb, an anagram for Alexander Graham Bell. This discordant array of “geographic” subjects is at odds with the conventions of carefully orchestrated museum curation.

Rather than merely list a chronology of landforms, newer geographic textbooks sought to account for a nation’s regional and racial differences, commercial resources, and overall progress on the basis of a narrative of environmental determinism. 31 The magazine itself reflected this broader progressive educational tendency to yoke geography to current events. 33 Others highlighted the nation’s industrial modernity. “How the World Is Shod” (September 1908) took its readers on a visual tour of the world’s footwear, from Breton peasants cobbling shoes outdoors to Asian markets featuring straw-soled shoes, culminating in an overhead shot courtesy of the Regal 40 ■ American Iconographic Shoe Company of its “more than 4,000 skilled shoe workers” processing “heels and shoes cut out by perfected machinery” (657–59).

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