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Exit planet FACE: Magazines and styling the everyday

Evans, Amanda (2000) Exit planet FACE: Magazines and styling the everyday. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In 1988, Dick Hebdige positioned THE FACE within Thatcherite Britain. Since this landmark analysis, the magazine and the genre it triggered, has been largely ignored. This thesis offers a 'fading in the light', in response to Hebdige's 'hiding in the light'. The importance of style journals, particularly THE FACE, is the core focus of this dissertation. The following chapters explore how and why this site hails readers and how these magazines have framed understandings of cultural studies, the popular, youth and the everyday. Important nodes of investigation include style, politics, nation and writing.

THE FACE is a magazine that has defined the style of the 1980s and 1990s: excessive, expensive and superficial. Style within the parameters of my thesis is utilised to explain the meanings derived from a cultural site. Style is readily available: in subcultures, texts, images, economic policy, discourses, ideologies, architecture, fashion, music, film and magazines. Engaging with THE FACE's style displays how a magazine community constructs a visual and textual community.

The first section theoretically orientates this thesis. Each chapter examines a pivotal theoretical paradigm that envelops THE FACE discourse. The key examination reveals the theoretical underpinnings of the everyday, emphasizing the magazine theory that frames contemporary cultural analysis. Critical emphasis is placed on women's magazines, youth culture and the politics of writing. This section seeks to decode the magazine environment, while also investigating the space that magazines occupy in cultural studies.

While the first section reveals the theoretical tapestry that encircles a popular cultural text, Section Two focuses upon the social fabric that weaves THE FACE. Cultural critiques of magazines employ an array of methods; this dissertation posits semiotics, youth culture, popular memory and style as pivotal investigative nodes. Through the understanding of a wider cultural framework, the myths and ideologies that surround THE FACE are exposed. My final section extends the terrain plotted in Section Two, creating a virtual, map of THE FACE. The discourses of national identity, cultural geography and cultural economics present the increasing hyperreality of the magazine discourse through the 1990s.

This thesis seeks to unearth the histories that lie beneath the popular cultural icon of THE FACE. Utilising the theoretical and conceptual tools embedded within the British cultural studies framework, this thesis' original contribution to knowledge, through the metonym of THE FACE magazine, is an expansive exploration of (still) one of the most under-theorised sites in cultural analysis - magazines. Through close analyses of banal cultural texts, the discourses that construct the dominant ideologies in popular culture are both reinforced and contested - at the flick of a page.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Supervisor(s): Brabazon, Tara
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