Moskowitz, Marina 1968–

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Moskowitz, Marina 1968–

PERSONAL:

Born 1968. Education: Yale University, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—University of Glasgow, Department of History, 1 University Gardens, Rm. 406, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, senior lecturer in history and American studies.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for American History, Harvard University, 2001; Residential Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution, 2002; Fellowship in Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks Research Center and Library, 2002; Short-Term Fellowship, Program in Early American Society and Economy, Library Company, November, 2005; Fellowship, New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, winter, 2005-06; Kluge Fellowship, Library of Congress, fall, 2006.

WRITINGS:

Standard of Living: The Measure of the Middle Class in Modern America, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2004.

(Editor, with Elsbeth Brown and Catherine Gudis) Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of chapters or essays to books, including Middling Sorts: New Approaches to the American Middle Classes, edited by Burton Bledstein and Robert Johnston, Routledge (New York, NY), 2001; and Considering Class: Essays on the Discourse of the American Dream, edited by Kevin Cahill and Lene Johannessen, LitVerlag (Berlin, Germany), 2007. Contributor to journals, including Enterprise and Society and Business and Economic History.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer and educator Marina Moskowitz was born in 1968. She earned her doctoral degree at Yale University, then went on to teach on the faculty of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, where she is a senior lecturer in history and American studies. Her primary areas of research and academic interest focus on the cultural history of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, with a particular focus on visual culture such as architecture and landscape, and material culture, such as business and market history. She is also interested in the culture of the middle classes and cultural geography. Beyond her academic endeavors, Moskowitz has contributed chapters or essays to a number of books, including Middling Sorts: New Approaches to the American Middle Classes and Considering Class: Essays on the Discourse of the American Dream. She is also a regular contributor to various journals, including Enterprise and Society and Business and Economic History. Moskowitz served as the editor, with Elsbeth Brown and Catherine Gudis, of Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960, and is the author of Standard of Living: The Measure of the Middle Class in Modern America.

In Standard of Living, Moskowitz investigates where the term came from and how it came to stand for the ideal middle-class lifestyle against which all other achievements, both greater and lesser, are measured. Based in large part on the acquisition of durable goods, the standard of living was highly promoted by advertising that strove to convince consumers that there was a direct correlation between the items they purchased and their own worth, class, and status as individuals. With large-ticket items of a durable nature, this became particularly important, as these purchases were costly and could not be returned as a rule. Manufacturers wanted consumers to feel that not only were they getting a good product that was worth the money, but they wanted the consumer to feel a connection of some sort to the manufacturer, as that relationship made them more likely to make the purchase than if they felt no pull toward the company at all. Because of this, advertising began to show more than the product itself, but began to show it in context. Furniture or bathroom fixtures would be depicted in the room they were suited for, along with all of the other accessories that could help consumers picturing themselves living in that picture and using those items.

Moskowitz goes on to explain how this process worked by using four examples of manufacturers who used their advertising efforts to change the way that consumers viewed their products. Reed and Barton gradually convinced their customers that silver-plate flatware was not just a luxury, but a necessary item for their daily lives. Kohler brand fixtures set out to show that a bathroom appropriately fitted with all of the necessary devices for hygiene was a vital section of the home. Moskowitz credits the Aladdin Company, based in Michigan, for convincing middle-class America that they should all own their own freestanding home. And finally, she addresses zoning in particular, which classified neighborhoods according to purpose, from residential to commercial, which proved a means of maintaining those home values. Kathleen G. Donohue, in a contribution for the Michigan Historical Review, found Moskowitz's effort to be an "imaginative, insightful, and lively book." She went on to conclude that "Moskowitz has produced a work that is required reading for anyone interested in understanding how the United States became the quintessential middle-class nation." Kathleen Leonard Turner, writing for the Journal of Social History, observed that "the book is well-researched, well-written, and convincing. Moskowitz's argument about the commercial basis of the middle-class perception of proper ‘standards’ will certainly influence future discussion of the expansion of the middle class and the consumer culture of the early twentieth century."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, June, 2007, Vicki Howard, review of Standard of Living: The Measure of the Middle Class in Modern America, p. 877.

Business History, October, 2006, Shinobu Majima, review of Standard of Living, p. 594.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 2005, M.A. McEunen, review of Standard of Living, p. 2070; October, 2006, P.W. Laird, review of Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960, p. 339.

Historian, fall, 2006, Stuart M. Blumin, review of Standard of Living.

History: Review of New Books, summer, 2005, Aleisa Fishman, review of Standard of Living.

Journal of American Culture, December, 2005, Jay Martin, review of Standard of Living, p. 451.

Journal of American History, December, 2006, Eileen Boris, review of Standard of Living, p. 912.

Journal of American Studies, April, 2006, Joe Kennedy, review of Standard of Living, p. 190.

Journal of Economic Literature, March, 2005, review of Standard of Living, p. 249.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 2007, Angel Kwolek-Folland, review of Standard of Living.

Journal of Social History, winter, 2005, Katherine Leonard Turner, review of Standard of Living.

Journal of the American Planning Association, summer, 2005, Paul L. Knox, review of Standard of Living.

Michigan Historical Review, fall, 2006, Kathleen G. Donohue, review of Standard of Living.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of Standard of Living, p. 151.

Technology and Culture, April, 2006, Lisa Jacobson, review of Standard of Living, p. 440.

ONLINE

University of Glasgow, Department of History Web site,http://www.gla.ac.uk/ (April 27, 2008), faculty profile.