Constructing the Turn-of-the-Century Shopper: Narratives About Purchased Objects in the Strand Magazine, 1891-1910

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Hoberman, Ruth. “Constructing the Turn-of-the-Century Shopper: Narratives About Purchased Objects in the Strand Magazine, 1891-1910.” Victorian Periodicals Review 37.1 (2004): 1–17. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/stable/pdf/20083987.pdf?acceptTC=true

This article examines The Strand’s crucial role in the construction of middle and upper middle class identity in the fin-de-siècle. The middle class defined its consumption in opposition to aristocracy and the working class. Hoberman argues The Strand promoted consumer culture and encouraged readers to base their identity upon their possessions, as seen through the magazine’s cover, advertisements, stories, contests and photographs. Hoberman notes how The Strand naturalized the role of advertisements in daily life, reinforcing how the private home space could be made public and alternatively, how public discourse shaped the private sphere. She also describes how advertisements often borrowed format and characters from the magazine, such as Sherlock Holmes appearing in an ad for a constipation cure and in another for a cigar. Certain sections of the periodical also explored how products were promoted. For instance, a contest in 1903 asked readers to pick their favourite advertisements, demonstrating the participatory journalism George Newnes was known for.