Adventure, Glamor, and Social Prestige: Women and Mobility across the Pacific in Australian Quality Magazines of the 1920s and 1930s

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 9:40 AM
Room A703 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Susann Liebich, Heidelberg University
In the interwar years, when ocean cruises and leisure travel became massified, the Pacific and travel across the Pacific featured heavily in Australia’s popular print culture. This was particularly so in quality glossy magazines, often addressed to female audiences, which were cultural agenda setters and whose impact filtered down into more popular, mass-market publications. Through print, travel and mobility came to be symbols of modernity. This paper explores representations of women’s travel and mobility across the Pacific in two Australian magazines published in the 1920s and 1930s: The Home (1920-1942) and The BP Magazine (1929-1942). Drawing on a range of content, from travelogues and travel advice, to feature articles, advertisements and social gossip notes, the paper reveals how women’s mobility could be framed in terms of modernity, glamour and luxury, but also as acts of adventure and expressions of independence and emancipation. At the same time, more conservative notions that tied travel to social prestige also persisted, especially within the society notes and photos. While much of the travel advertisement displayed an orientation eastwards towards the United States, the majority of Pacific mobility of elite women or highlighted in travel features followed along established imperial routes to Britain via Asia. As such, Australian quality magazines presented a Pacific world that not only reached to the United States, but importantly also looked north- and westwards, bringing the Asia-Pacific into the imagination of Australian readers.
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