The Modern Girl Around the World

9780822342991: Hardback
Release Date: 24th December 2008

9780822343059: Paperback
Release Date: 24th December 2008

132 illustrations

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 448

Series Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

Duke University Press Books

The Modern Girl Around the World

Consumption, Modernity, and Globalization

Hardback / £99.00
Paperback / £25.99

During the 1920s and 1930s, in cities from Beijing to Bombay, Tokyo to Berlin, Johannesburg to New York, the Modern Girl made her sometimes flashy, always fashionable appearance in city streets and cafes, in films, advertisements, and illustrated magazines. Modern Girls wore sexy clothes and high heels; they applied lipstick and other cosmetics. Dressed in provocative attire and in hot pursuit of romantic love, Modern Girls appeared on the surface to disregard the prescribed roles of dutiful daughter, wife, and mother. Contemporaries debated whether the Modern Girl was looking for sexual, economic, or political emancipation, or whether she was little more than an image, a hollow product of the emerging global commodity culture. The contributors to this collection track the Modern Girl as she emerged as a global phenomenon in the interwar period.

Scholars of history, women’s studies, literature, and cultural studies follow the Modern Girl around the world, analyzing her manifestations in Germany, Australia, China, Japan, France, India, the United States, Russia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Along the way, they demonstrate how the economic structures and cultural flows that shaped a particular form of modern femininity crossed national and imperial boundaries. In so doing, they highlight the gendered dynamics of interwar processes of racial formation, showing how images and ideas of the Modern Girl were used to shore up or critique nationalist and imperial agendas. A mix of collaborative and individually authored chapters, the volume concludes with commentaries by Kathy Peiss, Miriam Silverberg, and Timothy Burke.

Contributors: Davarian L. Baldwin, Tani E. Barlow, Timothy Burke, Liz Conor, Madeleine Yue Dong, Anne E. Gorsuch, Ruri Ito, Kathy Peiss, Uta G. Poiger, Priti Ramamurthy, Mary Louise Roberts, Barbara Sato, Miriam Silverberg, Lynn M. Thomas, Alys Eve Weinbaum

Acknowledgments ix
1. The Modern Girl as Heuristic Device: Collaboration, Connective Comparison, Multidirectional Citation / The Modern Girl Around the World Research Group (Alys Eve Weinbaum, Lynn M. Thomas, Priti Ramamurthy, Uta G. Poiger, Madeleine Y. Dong, and Tani E. Barlow) 1
2. The Modern Girl Around the World: Cosmetics Advertising and the Politics of Race and Style/ The Modern Girl Around the World Research Group (Alys Eve Weinbaum, Lynn M. Thomas, Priti Ramamurthy, Uta G. Poiger, Madeleine Y. Dong, and Tani E. Barlow) 25
3. From the Washtub to the World: Madam C. J. Walker and the "Re-creation" of Race Womanhood, 1900-1935 / Davarian L. Baldwin 55
4. Making the Modern Girl French: From New Woman to Éclaireuse / Mary Louise Roberts 77
5. The Modern Girl and Racial Respectability in 1930s South Africa / Lynn M. Thomas 96
6. Racial Masquerade: Consumption and Contestation of American Modernity / Alys Eve Weinbaum 120
7. All-Consuming Nationalism: The Indian Modern Girl in the 1920s and 1930s / Priti Ramamurthy 147
8. The Dance Class or the Working Class: The Soviet Modern Girl / Anne E. Gorsuch 174
9. Who Is Afraid of the Chinese Modern Girl? / Madeleine Y. Dong 194
10. "Blackfella Missus Too Much Proud": Techniques of Appearing, Femininity, and Race in Australian Modernity / Liz Conor 220
11. The "Modern Girl" Question in the Periphery of Empire: Colonial Modernity and Mobility among Okinawan Women in the 1920s and 1930s / Ruri Ito 240
12. Contesting Consumerisms in Mass Women's Magazines / Barbara Sato 263
13. Buying In: Advertising and the Sexy Modern Girl Icon in Shanghai in the 1920s and 2930s / Tani E. Barlow 288
14. Fantasies of Universality? Neue Frauen, Race, and Nation in Weimer and Nazi Germany / Uta G. Poiger 317
Concluding Commentaries
15. Girls Lean Back Everywhere / Kathy Peiss 347
16. After the Grand Tour: The Modern Girl, the New Woman, and the Colonial Maiden / Miriam Silverberg 354
17. The Modern Girl and Commodity Culture / Timothy Burke 362
Bibliography 371
Contributors 405
Index 409

Alys Eve Weinbaum is an Assistant Professor of English, University of Washington.

“Rarely do collections offer both a compelling object of study and a sophisticated, portable method emanating out of concrete historical particulars. In doing so, the Modern Girl Around the World Research Group models collective feminist critique even as it illuminates new intellectual pathways and raises questions about the uneven terrain of the global and the analytical power of ‘connective comparison’ that will find interlocutors across an array of scholarly projects.”—Antoinette Burton, author of The Postcolonial Careers of Santha Rama Rau

“The study of the Modern Girl exemplified by this groundbreaking collection and research project will reconfigure the ways we understand modernity, globalization, gender, and consumption. This book is sorely needed.”—Caren Kaplan, co-editor of Between Woman and Nation: Nationalisms, Transnational Feminisms, and the State

“This is a truly revelatory work of international scope. The authors' innovative collaborative method and their theory of ‘multidirectional citation’ provide exciting new points of departure for the global history of gender formation and of everything else besides.”—Nancy F. Cott, Harvard University