Mad Men: A South African Media History. The aspirational syntax of men’s magazines: A South African media history, 1910 to the present.

Men’s magazines had their official start in South Africa in 1910 with the inception of publications aimed at asserting the continued role of the Empire in establishing a benchmark of good taste. At this time there was little awareness of political correctness and the magazines perpetuated an ironic endorsement of the very best of British ‘high culture’ alongside more every-­‐day enactments of masculine boorishness, often without much regard for gender or cultural sensitivity. In particular this research is focussed on the creation and perpetuation of an aspirational syntax of class, style and Culture as tied to Englishness and communicated in South African print media, targeted at men from 1910 to the present. I hope to document the ways in which ‘masculine ideals’ were appropriated from the west and transformed into more attainable types for a South African public keen to find itself articulated in photographic print. This story reaches into democracy and traces the recent history of men’s magazines that emerged in the early 21st century as a mirror of the new‐fangled masculine types that seemed to rise out of the ashes of apartheid.

Project leader(s):
  • Stella Viljoen (Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University)

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