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Founded in 1944 by Helen Valentine, Seventeen magazine was the first modern “teen magazine.” An immediate success, it became iconic in establishing the tastes and behaviors of successive generation of teen girls covering the last half of the 20th century. Kelley Massoni has written the first cultural history of the origins of Seventeen and its role in shaping the modern teen girl ideal. Using content analysis, interviews, letters, oral histories, and promotional materials, Massoni is able to show how Seventeen helped create the modern concept of “teenager.” The early Seventeen provided a generation of thinking young women with information on citizenship and clothing, politics and popularity, adult occupations and adolescent preoccupations, until economic and social forces converged to reshape the magazine toward teen consumerism. A chapter on the 21st century Seventeen brings the story to the present. Fashioning Teenagers will be of interest to students of popular culture, sociology, gender studies, mass media, journalism, business, and American studies.
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kelley massoni, Ph.D., is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Kansas.Review:
“This book will make a major contribution to our understanding of gender roles, culture, consumerism, and media in the 20th and 21st centuries.”
- Peter Adler, University of Denver
- Arthur Asa Berger, Emeritus, San Francisco State University
- Joey Sprague, University of Kansas
- Estelle Ellis, Former Promotion Director, Seventeen Magazine
"Sociologist Massoni (Univ. of Kansas) offers the first book-length study of the most important teen magazine ever. It covers mostly the early years, from the founding of Seventeen in 1944 to the forced resignation of its first editor, Helen Valentine, in early 1950, and much of the book takes the form of a detailed comparison of the magazine’s content in 1944/45 and 1949/50.... The cultural and social history that underlies the book – e.g. the postwar resurgence of the ideal of domesticity – is well known. Massoni’s major themes, including youth consumerism and the construction of the female body by advertisers ... will interest students of youth culture, consumerism, advertising, and postwar gender roles. Summing up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."
-- CHOICE (W. Graebner, emeritus, SUNY Fredonia)
“Kelley Massoni offers insight into the first six years of what was meant to be a service and fashion magazine for teenagers growing up in the throes of a war-driven economy. Since then, Massoni argues, Seventeen has come to represent a culture in which teens are not only 'consumers but also the consumed.'... the book offers a cultural narrative that transcends time and is a useful resource for both scholarly and classroom purposes.”
—Miglena Sternadori, Journal of Magazine & New Media Research
“What’s interesting about Massoni’s approach is that she simultaneously traces the magazine’s history while describing the behind-the-scenes internal politics that took place at Seventeen.... Fashioning Teenagers: A Cultural History of Seventeen Magazine is likely to appeal to those interested in magazine history, as this particular magazine led the charge in the creation of the host of teen-oriented publications that followed. It also may appeal to those interested in learning more about advertising, marketing, and promotion, as it shows how creative advertising and promotional techniques can really make a difference in influencing consumer trends.”
—Andi Stein, The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
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