Pinpointing how consumer culture transformed female beauty ideals during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this study documents the movement from traditional views about beauty in relation to nature, God, morality and character to a modern conception of beauty as produced in and through consumer culture. While beauty has often been approached in relation to aestheticism and the visual arts in this period, this monograph offers a new and significant focus on how beauty was reshaped in girls' and women's magazines, beauty manuals and fiction during the rise of consumer culture. These archival sources reveal important historical changes in how femininity was shaped and illuminate how contemporary ideas of female beauty, and the methods by which they are disseminated, originated in seismic shifts in nineteenth-century print culture.
About the Author
Michelle J. Smith is an Associate Professor in Literary Studies at Monash University, Australia. Her most recent monograph is Consuming Female Beauty: British Literature and Periodicals, 1840-1914 (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). In the field of children's literature, she is the author of From Colonial to Modern: Transnational Girlhood in Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand Children's Literature, 1840-1940 (University of Toronto Press, 2018, with Clare Bradford and Kristine Moruzi) and Empire in British Girls' Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880-1915 (Palgrave, 2011). Her co-edited collections include Literary Cultures and Nineteenth-Century Childhoods (Palgrave, in press), Young Adult Gothic Fiction: Monstrous Selves/Monstrous Others (University of Wales Press, 2021), Victorian Environments: Acclimatizing to Change in British Domestic and Colonial Culture (Palgrave, 2018), Affect, Emotion and Children's Literature: Representation and Socialisation in Texts for Children and Young Adults (Routledge, 2017), Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950 (Palgrave, 2014), and Girls' School Stories, 1749-1929 (Routledge, 2013).