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Using Magazines as a Source for Contemporary History - 20 credits (HST828)

Magazines are a rich and exciting source for contemporary history, providing a fascinating window onto changing styles of written and visual communication as well as contemporary concerns. They could even be described as providing a dozen sources for the price of one – feature articles, readers’ letters, advertisements, and editorials are all different kinds of source and need to be interpreted in different ways, yet can all be found between the covers of the same publication. This very diversity alerts us to the need to handle magazines with care. Magazines are not innocent reflections of the world, but cultural productions shaped by editorial style, designed to manipulate readers, dependent on advertising revenue, and marketed and sold to particular audiences. This module introduces students to a range of approaches to using magazines as a source for contemporary history, drawing on both recent historical research using magazines and sociological research on mass communication.  Magazine content will be analysed in seminars to illustrate pitfalls and potentialities, drawing predominantly on post-1945 British magazines aimed at female audiences.