Read: Massoni, Fashioning Teenagers, Chapters 5 and 6, Epilogue
Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2
What were the biographical circumstances, specific to both Helen Valentine and Walter Annenberg, that resulted in the initial production of Seventeen magazine?
According to Helen Valentine, who was to be the readership for the magazine? And what “grand narrative” about adolescent girls was she interested in telling through the magazine? Did she think that Seventeen magazine was revolutionary in any ways? If so, what were they?
Seventeen premiered during World War II. How does Massoni think this impacted Valentine’s initial vision of who the Seventeen reader (and thus, the adolescent girl) should be?
Chapters 3 and 4
In chapter 3, Massoni argues that while Helen Valentine’s original vision for Seventeen magazine drove the content of the magazine for a short time, new stories about teenage girls began to be told through the magazine. What were a couple of these new stories, what were the larger historical trends affecting women and families that produced them, and what were some of the “bottom line” (read: profit-centered) reasons for telling these new stories?
In these chapters, Massoni also discusses the particular strategies by which Seventeen encourages large-scale consumption by teenage girls. List and describe at least three ways this happened.
Chapters 5 and 6, Epilogue
Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the ways in which Seventeen constructed adolescent girl relationships to family and marriage. In what ways did Seventeen encourage readers to commit to consumerism by being committed to the public sphere (family life)?
Previously in our course (in the Global Perspectives on Defining and Enacting Race unit), we have discussed the notion that certain childhoods have been normalized and marginalized in Western cultures (i.e., white, middle-class, heterosexual, Judeo-Christian childhoods are considered “childhood”, while non-white, non-middle-class, gender fluid, and non-Christian forms of childhood are “othered” and considered alternate childhoods rather than evidence as forms of cultural or bio-diversity). Now that you have read the entire book, can you locate evidence of the normalizing of certain aspects of childhood/adolescence through the production of Seventeen magazine? If so, list and describe three examples. Can you think of other media examples where this is happening today, and/or where this is being challenged?
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