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Making Friends of the Nations

Australian Interwar Magazines and Middlebrow Orientalism in the Pacific

Victoria Kuttainen and Sarah Galletly

As travel began to massify in the aftermath of the Great War when passenger ships still regularly stopped at ports of call, and as Australia developed a sub-imperial relationship to its near Melanesian neighbors in Papua and New Guinea, the Pacific and its islands loomed large in Australians’ consciousness and print culture. This article employs Christina Klein’s concept of “middlebrow orientalism” to examine how Australia’s quality magazines, MAN and The BP Magazine, reflected an “expansive material and symbolic investment in Asia and the Pacific” (2003: 11) between the two world wars. While development of a consumerist, leisure relationship with the region is in evidence in these magazines that undoubtedly assume the superiority of White Australia, we argue they also promote diversity, inclusiveness, and an emerging maturity in outlook that conveyed the way in which Australians began to understand themselves as Pacific citizens wishing to “make friends of the nations.”

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Introduction

Print Culture, Mobility, and the Pacific, 1920–1950

Victoria Kuttainen and Susann Liebich

This special section considers the interconnections of print culture and mobility across the Pacific in the early twentieth century. The contributors explore how print culture was part of the practices, experiences, mediations, and representations of travel and mobility, and understand mobility in a number of ways: from the movement of people and texts across space and the mobility of ideas to the opportunities of social mobility through travel. The special section moves beyond studies of travel writing and the literary analysis of travel narratives by discussing a range of genres, by paying attention to readers and reception, and by focusing on actual mobility and its representation as well as the mediation between the two.

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Worldly Tastes

Mobility and the Geographical Imaginaries of Interwar Australian Magazines

Victoria Kuttainen and Susann Liebich

In the interwar period, increasingly mobile Australians began to contemplate travel across the Pacific, both toward Asia as well as to America. Contemporary writing reflected this highly mobile culture and Pacific gaze, yet literary histories have overlooked this aspect of cultural history. Instead of looking to Australian novels as indexes of culture, as literary studies often do, this article explores the range of writing and print culture in magazines, concentrating on notions of mobility through the Pacific. Its focus is on the quality magazines MAN and The Home, which addressed two distinct, gendered readerships, but operated within similar cultural segments. This article suggests that the distinct geographical imaginaries of these magazines, which linked travel and geographical mobility with aspiration and social mobility, played a role in consolidating and nourishing the class standing of their readers, and revealed some of their attitudes toward gender and race.