The New Woman and the British Periodical Press of the 1890s

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Stetz, Margaret. “The New Woman and the British Periodical Press of the 1890s.” Journal of Victorian Culture. 6.2 (2001): 272-285. Web. 10 October, 2015.

This article argues that periodicals of the late 19th century often made affiliations with the New Woman as a method of asserting “newness” and modernity. Yet, in order to not alienate readers completely, these magazines did not align themselves with some of the more radical positions held by New Women of the period. Rather than acknowledging the full extent of female demands, magazines alluded to a simple outline of the New Woman as a “symbol of fashionable modernity” in order to open up their publications to wider audiences while maintaining a certain conservativeness. Thus, New Women associations were made in the name of commercial gains. By 1896, she claims, the New Woman was tainted due to her association (in the public’s mind) with Oscar Wilde in the wake of the Wilde trials. Yet, Stetz notes that the figure of New Woman, as an early kind of proto feminist, lived on as a symbol of resistance and thus her persistence in journalism and literature was integral to later feminist traditions. The author also gives examples of pop culture figures of the New Woman, which exist beyond the 1890s in films like A Woman Rebels in the 1930s and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir in the 1940s.

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