Faye Hammill - Travel as Nationalist Practice
I really enjoyed the presentation and the great images from these magazines. I had two questions:
1. I thought the point you ended with, about the rhetoric of mobility that runs through these magazines and links to forms of national identity, was fascinating and wondered whether there are examples of this sort of theme that also appears in the fiction that appears in the magazines ? (I think you said that Canadian Home Journal and La revue contained fiction, but not Mayfair?)
2. About the price/circulation relationship: you said that Mayfair was the most expensive (25c, while the other two magazines were 10c and 15c) and had a 'restricted circulation' - were they deliberately trying to cultivate a smaller circulation by pricing themselves above other similar magazines, or was that just a natural consequence of the higher price?
Thank you Andrew. On fiction, see my reply to Carey's similar question in another thread. On price and circulation: whatever I say would be speculation, as there's no business archive available. However, it does seem that the economic model for Mayfair was different from those of the other 2 magazines, and different also from those of the other titles published by Mayfair's parent company, Maclean Hunter, such as Maclean's and Chatelaine. Mayfair was much more expensively produced, and sold far fewer copies, but a higher proportion of its pages were devoted to advertising, and this was without exception for high-end products. So either Mayfair was profitable by itself because its advertising space was expensive, or it was subsidised by profits from the other titles. What it brought the company, undoubtedly, was cachet, as it was marketed to -and reported on the activities of - Canada's very small leisure class plus its most prosperous business people. So it was a bit like Tatler. Its rhetoric was all about exclusiveness (though of course its audience would have included those who only wished they belonged to the elite class, as well as those who actually did). Actually I've been thinking a lot about circulation lately and just published blog post in the 'form' part of the excellent Circulating American Magazines site. My post is on the circulation of Vogue. Perhaps this is relevant to the discussion. http://www.circulatingamericanmagazines.org/
Dear Faye, thank you for your presentation, I really enjoyed it! I like the relation between tour, nationalism and coloniality.
I have a question regarding the railways companies that advertise in these magazines, do you know if there are any sources about their financial engagement? You said that it was pretty expensive but I wonder whether you have a proportion. Could the magazines be financed by these ads?
@fh thanks Faye - and thanks too for the link to the Circulating American Magazines website, which I didn't know about. It strikes me that 'Circulation' would make an excellent topic for a focused discussion (maybe one for our NTU Periodicals and Print Culture Research Group in the future) 😀
@cpremat I wish I knew the answer about how much the railway and shipping companies paid for the adverts. As I said, there isn't any business archive for Mayfair, but I am now working on a project on ocean liners and am reading some company histories as part of that, so I'm hoping I might manage to access the information that way. The magazines were definitely, by the 1930s, financed much more substantially by advertising revenue than by cover price, but of course there were many different advertisers and I think it would be very hard to find out the proportion of income that came from e.g. railway firms. It raises a bigger question for magazine studies, about how we access more robust information about business models, advertising pricing etc. I wonder if there is anything to be discovered from trade and industry magazines, that were aimed at the staff who would purchase the advertising space.... Anyway, thank you!
Hi Faye, I really enjoyed your talk.
Can you describe how you determined there to be seven mainstream mass periodicals - what was the criteria?
hello Jaleen! Thank you and I can't wait to see your talk. Ah I have not determined anything! I was saying that Canada's population did not support a large number of titles, and there were only about seven mainstream (non-specialist) monthlies that flourished: I mean, over several decades (as opposed to briefly), and my count would be something like Chatelaine, Macleans, La revue populaire, La revue moderne, Western Home Monthly, Canadian Home Journal, and Mayfair. What is your own opinion? Originally when we started our first project, we thought about looking at weeklies too, but of course that increases the count quite a bit...
Hi Faye, Thank you so much for your wonderful talk. I was very intrigued by your slide on Mayfair and the justification for its title: 'Mayfair in truth has been absorbed into an Empire's parlance.'
I'm fascinated by the idea of 'an Empire's parlance' and was wondering if you could say a little more about what you take this to mean, and how it relates to Mayfair's presentation of Empire more broadly? There seems to be such an interesting tension between local and international identities here.
I was also going to ask a question about 'advertorials' so I'm grateful to your discussion with Nissa!
@emmagenevieve Thank you Emma, for your kind comment and useful question. I was intrigued by this too. It seems an attempt to insert (anglophone) Canada into a larger British world - and to escape from any notion of it as a backwater. But there is a paradox in that Mayfair's claim to 'worldliness' depends on upholding ideals of empire and, thus, of British dominance. The magazine spends a lot of time photographing Canadians in London: presenting them 'at the centre of things', but there's also a rather embarrassing sense of gratitude for any notice that they receive from London's elite society. Still, as I mentioned in the talk, there is not necessarily any conflict between nationalism and support for empire in Canada during the interwar years: as I understand it, many were convinced that Canada's future was as one of the leading nations in the empire, and that the empire provided the best setting for Canada's growing influence. (Historians would explain this better!)
@fh Thanks! I have had no particular need to think about it before, nor have I looked in depth at all available titles (especially in Quebec), so I don't have an answer. That is exactly why it piqued my curiosity. And of course I wondered if Magazine Digest - topic of my talk - would have met the criteria by which you chose (even if it is informal criteria). The only quasi-reliable circulation figure, from court documents as reported by a journalist, puts it at 112,000, which is way larger than what I have for Mayfair (20,000; Sutherland's numbers) and less than half of MacLeans (285,000; Braggins' numbers) - this is all ca. 1946. It's a monthly and it ran from Canada for 19 years. It too was general-interest; I assume you excluded more niche magazines, and the farm ones (although difference between a newspaper and a magazine comes into play there). But it printed in a small format on pulp, so maybe it isn't the same class by virtue of not being a slick. Yet its content was more than part-highbrow. But partly abridged reprints, or cobbled together articles wrought from multiple sources, in addition to its original journalism, so that too sets it apart. It's such a weird magazine!! Which is why it's interesting....
@fh Thanks so much for this Faye - it's such a fascinating topic. I was particularly interested as I've been working on Empire Marketing Board publicity recently. They, too, didn't seem to draw a distinction between nationalism and support for empire, at least in Britain. I suppose it was slightly different because it was the 'British Empire' (!) but slogans like 'Empire Buying Begins at Home' encouraged consumers to support the empire and domestic industries through their purchases.
Empire seems like a key word for many of the discussions we'll be having over the next few weeks, especially for how it complicates terms like 'national identity'. Thanks again!
@fh Just joined in, and I'm making the mistake of reading the comments and replies before having listened to your talk! That comes next. But one comment. I'm not sure there's any necessary paradox between worldliness and support for the Empire (however that might look from our perspective). The Empire wasn't only a source of conservatism, constraint, etc. The imperial network could also be what I call a 'vector of modernity'. London, of course, wasn't just the centre of Empire but also a great modern commercial metropolis. I published something a while back about an Australian magazine, Desiderata, and defined its position (or posture) as 'modernising Anglocentrism' (as opposed to conservative Anglocentrism and to both modernising and conservative versions of nationalism). Still, yes, our weeklies were full of photos of Australians making it (for a moment) in London social circles!
I'd like to offer some personal ethnographic data if I may.
Nationalism and empire: these were not incompatible for most Conservatives and Liberals; parties (and individuals) just disagreed to what extent Canada should be making its own decisions vs having England run everything. It would have been career suicide for most politicians to even hint at being 'disloyal'.
Heck, I still had to sing God Save the Queen and swear allegiance to the crown as an elementary school student and a Girl Guide as late as 1980. Until Mulroney signed us the new Constitution, we were still tied to Mama's apron strings (and she's still on money and incarnated in the Governors General, I'll add for non-Canadians who maybe don't know this). I was even raised having my language and terminology corrected by my mother to British standards (not American, was the point of that); and until I actually visited England, I considered our family to be basically British - despite the last direct relative having come over 6 generations ago (and the heritage of other ethnicities in my family tree were treated as Anglicized and to be valued privately not publicly (Norwegian), or disavowed entirely if deemed embarrassing enough (Native/French)). When my local small rural Ontario village got a new hockey arena in 2011, they reverently transferred the framed 1950s portrait of the Queen from its hallowed place overlooked the ice to the new venue - this is in Prince Edward County, Loyalist country, where people still proudly claim United Empire Loyalist membership.
Insofar as the Empire was global, it was worldly to be English/Scottish and middle-class. My home town, Victoria, British Columbia (keeping track of these colonial place names?), was a retirement haven for remittance men, and for British field officers and the like who had been raised if not born in India and Shanghai, or had been long stationed in such places (a close family friend's parents had come from Zimbabwe, eg). Every single member of this class described themselves as "British" in my hearing, although also loyally "Canadian". It's that global network of administration and business that allowed my civil engineer grandfather in 1963-1976 to travel the world doing development projects in Uganda, Singapore, etc.
I'll think of them as the "mobility class". They, along with the more idle rich promoted in Mayfair, actually DID the travelling promoted therein. My grandfather, when he finally returned to Canada in 1982 from his home base in Cyrus, chose to do it by ocean liner. He brought with him the furniture he'd originally acquired in Victoria and taken to Cyprus in 1968, and he also brought his sportscar Volvo, which he'd personally purchased in Scandinavia in 1971 or so while doing some work there. He chose the ocean liner instead of flying and simply shipping his possessions separately because he was That Generation, that saw ships in the romantic, prestigious manner of the posters of his coming-of-age in the 30s.
In my dissertation work I examined the rhetoric of nationalism and found that British and British-Canadian politicians positioned Canada as a kind of outreach project of British manifest destiny, an exemplar, particularly they hoped, to act as a role model for the backsliding Americans. The "rugged Canadian" was held up as a eugenic improvement of British stock.
Just some inside views from inside the demographic, or rather, the more impoverished descendent thereof!
Thanks so much for this fascinating talk Faye. I was wondering about your last comment on ginger beer representing Canada abroad as well as welcoming travelling Canadians home. I'm going on the assumption that products not connected with travel that were promoted using this rhetoric of mobility were all Canadian exports. I wondered (and this might be beyond the scope of your research), to what extent these consumer-based associations with Canada were carried over into the representation of Canada by international periodicals?
Hi Faye, thank you for your presentation. I am curious to know if the covers of these Canadian magazines were always non-photographic (and how this compares to the interior layouts of the magazines). And why were they non-photographic?
Thank you, Antonella