Reframing the Bicycle: Magazines and Scorching Women

Ellen Gruber Garvey

in The Adman in the Parlor

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195108224
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855070 | DOI:
Reframing the Bicycle: Magazines and Scorching Women

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This chapter takes up the question of how advertising and fiction interacted in relation to a single commodity. When the safety bicycle in the 1890s made bicycling accessible to women, wheelwomen found themselves riding through contested terrain. The new mobility that bicycles offered was both attractive to feminists and the target of attack by conservative forces. By working together within the larger framework of the magazine, advertising and fiction made a seemingly threatening new product attractive to potential users. While ads could address a specific manifestation of the threat by promoting a new product like the “hygienic” saddle, the larger issues raised by women's increased mobility couldn't be headed off as easily. Magazine stories took on those issues by rewriting the product's apparent threat to traditional roles. They subsumed the potential conflict within a discourse of consumption.

Keywords: magazine advertising; fiction; bicycles; bicycling; women

Chapter.  10701 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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