The Transported Imagination: Magazines, Travel And The Pacific 1920s-30s

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Victoria Kuttainen

    James Cook University

  2. 2. Susann Liebich

    Institution Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (University of Heidelberg), James Cook University

  3. 3. Sarah Galletly

    James Cook University

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The Transported Imagination: Magazines, Travel And The Pacific 1920s-30s


James Cook University, Australia


James Cook University, Australia; Heidelberg University


James Cook University, Australia


Paul Arthur, University of Western Sidney

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
Paul Arthur

Converted from a Word document




Australian Magazines
Spatial Analysis
Network Visualisation

literary studies
content analysis
bibliographic methods / textual studies
english studies
cultural studies
maps and mapping
media studies

In the 1920s and 1930s, glossy, quality magazines brought a flair of cosmopolitanism, glamour, and exoticism to Australian readers. Travel, especially across the Pacific, was a key component of general-interest magazines of this era, which opened up a new world beyond Australia’s shores to readers, whether travellers themselves or aspirational armchair travellers. This project explores Australia’s geographical imaginary and representations of travel as expressed in popular print culture to question the status of cultural nationalism as the dominant ideology of the period. It conceptualizes modern mainstream magazines as mediated portals through which contemporary readers could observe the historically changing conception of the Pacific during the golden age of passenger liner travel. By utilising digital mapping and network visualisation methods, this project draws attention to the emerging transpacific imaginary these magazines capture to interrogate and problematise existing notions of Australian culture and illuminate the highly interconnected nature of the periodical marketplace in this period. The interwar period in Australia is often identified as seeing the emergence and consolidation of nationalism, reflected not least in cultural and literary expressions that emphasised the nation. Yet this period was also characterised by high levels of travel and mobility; passenger liners and a bourgeoning tourism and cruising industry allowed unprecedented numbers of Australians to cruise and cross the Pacific. While much scholarly attention has focussed on the development of Australian literary culture from the 1940s onwards, the literary output of Australian writers in the period immediately before, and especially writing in commercial outlets like mainstream magazines, has largely been overlooked.
Specifically, this project builds upon our manual collection and collation of metadata on the content of three Australian magazines:
The Home (1920–1942),
BP Magazine (1928–1942), and
Man (1936–1974)
. By digitally mapping the content of these magazines—ranging from short stories, feature articles, and travel writing, to book and film reviews, society notes, and advertisements—a distinct Pacific imaginary emerges that encompassed places in South and Southeast Asia as well as the Pacific Islands, and reached north as well as east. Displaying the content spatially reveals the larger patterns of Australia’s Pacific-mindedness but also the nuanced differences in geographical representations according to genres and magazine titles. Network visualisation techniques and tools allow us to re-create the publishing and authorial networks that existed both within and across these three magazines in the 1920s and ’30s, revealing new print culture hierarchies and offering new modes of understanding print culture between the wars. By imagining these publications as information ‘networks’ comprising links and nodes between places, products, and people, we can better comprehend the cultural work these magazines undertook and the imaginative sway they held over readers’ perceptions of the Pacific region.

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