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MC15 Powers of the Press

Powers of the Press and Media Changes: (Wo)Men’s Journals around the World

Koordination: Barbara Mittler


(Wo)Men’s journals rule the world. Newspaper stands from Delhi to Changsha, from London to Wladiwostok sell them. These journals claim to disseminate particular knowledge, knowledge “appropriate” to (wo)men, and they propagate ever new versions of the “New (Wo)Man” who may (or may not) look quite different, depending on where the news-stand happens to be situated and depending on the year we write. While diversity is a striking element in the production, the dissemination and the consumption of these journals around the world, there is much that is shared by these media no matter whether they appear in 17th century England or in 21st century China (if only the perennial interest in fashion and beauty to give one example). It is not, as we will show, the arrival of franchise magazines and their “global conquest” in the second half of the 20th century which triggers the formation of a common “language” (including images and different genres of text) in (wo)men’s magazines around the world, and it is not the “Feminist Internationale” in the early 20th century, which marks the beginnings of international and intercultural exchanges between “(wo)men circles” and their reflection on the pages of the world’s (wo)men’s magazines.

It is the purpose of this project, in a series of workshops and visiting fellowships combined with courses offered also for the Master in Transcultural Studies to examine gendered journals around the world, from a transcultural perspective, and to study the flows and connections as well as the bumps and disconnections in their production, dissemination and consumption. The project will focus on Asian Women’s journals and will be visited (during workshops/lecture series) by scholars with an expertise in European women’s magazines, too, in order to grasp the fuller view of women’s magazines around the world and to understand the dynamics of cultural flows with regard to this peculiar text. Thus, the woman’s magazine as genre and its manifold changes and global interactions will become evident.
How powerful are these media and the everchanging images of New (Wo)Men which they create in different parts of the world and why? What is their relation to each other and to other popular media published around them and around the world?
In order to make the often unwieldy content of women’s journals more accessible to scholars, we are creating a database (of early Chinese women’s and entertainment journals) which makes meaningful qualitative and quantitative comparisons with other Chinese and foreign journals possible, allowing us to chart, for example, the occurrence of specific topics or images, the gender of authors, the ratio of literary to non-literary genres, and the price of journals. This project will help to expand the existing database of Chinese women’s magazines (which comprises Funü Shibao, Funü Zazhi, Nüzi Shijie and Linglong to include entertainment magazines and comparisons with magazines from all over the world (  and make them not only searchable but open the possibility for meaningful qualitative as well as quantitative comparisons within and between them: What are dominant genres and topics at a particular point in time? How many (wo)men publish in these journals and who are they? What travels as a translation between these magazines and why? What are different localisation strategies and how do they relate to or change existing (and competing) local products?