Kitch, Carolyn L.
KITCH, Carolyn L.
PERSONAL: Female. Education: Boston University, B.S., 1983; Pennsylvania State University, M.A.; Temple University, Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of Journalism, Temple University, 1801 North Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19122. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, editor, and educator. McCall's, New York, NY, associate editor; Good Housekeeping, New York, NY, senior editor; Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, instructor, 1997-99; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, assistant professor of journalism, then affiliated assistant professor of women's studies. Taught at New York University and Seton Hall.
MEMBER: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, International Communication Association, American Journalism Historians Association, Society of Professional Journalists.
AWARDS, HONORS: Top-Three Paper Award, visual communication, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1997, for "The Flapper in the Art of John Held, Jr.: Modernity, Post-Feminism, and the Meaning of Women's Bodies in 1920s Magazine Cover Illustration"; Maurine Beasley Award for research on women's journalism history, American Journalism Historians Association, 1999, for "Whose History Does Journalism Tell? How Women Have Been Left out of the Twentieth-Century Story"; Top Faculty Paper Award, AEJMC magazine division, 2000, for "'A Death in the American Family': National Values and Memory in the Magazine Mourning of John F. Kennedy, Jr."; Kreighbaum Under-Forty Award, AEJMC, 2000.
The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of VisualStereotypes in American Mass Media, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Health, American Health, Venture, New Jersey Monthly, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs, Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism, and American Journalism.
SIDELIGHTS: Carolyn L. Kitch was a writer and editor working for New York women's magazines who left publishing to acquire graduate degrees, then applied her experience and knowledge teaching students of journalism. Kitch has taught courses at Temple University in magazine editing, design, gender, and the mass media, and her research interests include American media history, media institutions and economics, visual communication, and gender studies. All of these come into play in her The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media, called an "engaging, insightful study" by Library Journal's Susan M. Colowick.
Kitch studies women's depiction on magazine covers published from 1895 to 1930 and the beginnings of feminism. She notes that as new opportunities for women became available, the woman on the cover reflected those changes in gender roles and culture, but, too often, she was portrayed simply as a consumer. The volume's seventy-five photographs of covers by talented magazine illustrators provide a visual history of the place of women in relation to their gender and class, from Charles Dana Gibson's white, wealthy, and independent "Gibson Girl," to the sexy, liberated flapper. Gibson's commercially successful image sold everything from playing cards to wallpaper. A successor, Howard Chandler Christy, didn't part with his originals until he had sold and resold one-time rights for their use in books, posters, and for decorative design.
Featured publications include Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Life, and McCall's. Early illustrator Alice Barber Stephens, creator of the "American Woman" series, and later artists, such as Norman Rockwell and Jessie Willcox Smith, are represented, and Kitch demonstrates the connection of the art to the artist's or editor's own agenda. In the final chapter, Kitch names illustrators who worked for both magazines and advertisers and created "a blueprint for the routine blurring of editorial and advertising messages in mass media."
In a Women's Review of Books article, Jennifer Scanlon noted that the covers of magazines are about the contents as much as they are about the cover illustration used to attract readers, and used Hillary Clinton as an example, saying that she "has been portrayed as the 'I-really-do-bake cookies' mother on the covers of women's homemaking magazines, the hardworking business woman on the covers of working women's magazines, and the long-suffering victim of Bill's indiscretions on the covers of tabloids."
Scanlon noted that "the images Kitch includes are rich illustrations of the many variations of womanhood imagined and then sold in the early twentieth century: the demure young woman, the vamp, the party girl, the gold digger, the lovely young wife." Scanlon continued, saying that "Kitch carefully outlines the ways in which women's demands for suffrage could be read as threatening on a number of levels in the 1910s, when Freudian psychology became increasingly popularized. In films and popular songs, women abused and infantilized their husbands, schemed to get men's money, and controlled their own sexuality. The images in this section of the book prove the most entertaining of her impressive collection of illustrations."
Choice reviewer S. A. Inness felt that Kitch's "copious knowledge" and "thought-provoking argument" render The Girl on the Magazine Cover "a must-read for anyone interested in media or gender studies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, April, 2002, S. A. Inness, review of The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media, p. 1407.
Library Journal, December, 2001, Susan M. Colowick, review of The Girl on the Magazine Cover, p. 139.
Women's Review of Books, March, 2002, Jennifer Scanlon, "Not Just a Pretty Face," pp. 18-19.*