Critical Mass: The Visual Arts in Popular Periodicals, Scribner’s Monthly and Century Magazine c.1877 – 1913

Jackson, Alexander (2022) Critical Mass: The Visual Arts in Popular Periodicals, Scribner’s Monthly and Century Magazine c.1877 – 1913. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of Alexander Jackson AMA PhD Thesis Final Edition.pdf] PDF
Restricted to Repository staff only until 30 November 2025.

Request a copy


Assessing the art coverage provided in Scribner’s Monthly and its successor Century Magazine, this thesis provides a detailed study of the significant intersections between the fine arts and American popular periodicals, which were a significant form of mass entertainment and erudition in the latter half of the 19th Century. The editorial policies of the magazine are discussed in relation to Richard Watson Gilder, who was the Managing Editor of Scribner’s Monthly and the Editor in Chief of Century Magazine. The thesis argues that the volume and qualities of the art writing and illustrations that were published in the magazine are attributable to Gilder’s sense of patriotism, desire for social and political reform and belief in the power of artistic beauty as an agent with the potential to transform society. This belief is contextualized within the history of the Aesthetic Movement in America and its philosophical roots within the Arts and Crafts Movement which was popular in Britain during the mid-nineteenth century. In this way the thesis builds upon recent scholarship which has identified Gilder’s appreciation of the spiritual qualities of art, and his pivotal role, through the work of his magazine, in the careers of numerous successful artists and writers of the so-called “Gilded Age”. The structure of the thesis presents a historic narrative which charts the rise and decline of Scribner’s Monthly and Century Magazine as a force within American culture; from the secession of the Society of American Artists from the National Academy of Design in New York in 1877, to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago, and beyond that to the New York Armory Show of 1913. Various aspects of the magazine’s history and Gilder’s influence are analyzed during this history, including his friendships with artists and critics, the development of illustration, the publishing of articles and series on art’s history, and the campaigns for free art.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2022 12:04
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022 12:04

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item