No CrossRef data available.
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2020
This article argues that postwar Seventeen magazine, a publication deeply invested in enforcing heteronormativity and conventional models of girlhood and womanhood, was in fact a more complex and multivocal serial text whose editors actively sought out, cultivated, and published girls’ creative and intellectual work. Seventeen's teen-authored “Curl Up and Read” book review columns, published from 1958 through 1969, are examples of girls’ creative intellectual labor, introducing Seventeen's readers to fiction and nonfiction which ranged beyond the emerging “young-adult” literature of the period. Written by young people – including thirteen-year-old Eve Kosofsky (later Sedgwick) – who perceived Seventeen to be an important publication venue for critical work, the “Curl Up and Read” columns are literary products in their own right, not simply juvenilia. Seventeen provided these young authors the opportunity to publish their work in a forum which offered girl readers and writers opportunities for intellectual development and community.
1 Eve Kosofsky, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1964, 18.
2 Audre Lorde's Jan. 1953 book review appeared under the byline “Audrey Lorde.” Audrey Lorde, “On the Book Beat,” Seventeen, Jan. 1953, 26, 44; Lorde, “Spring,” Seventeen, April 1951, 136–37.
3 Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, July 1957, 12; First, “A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into the Creative Imagination,” MA paper, Columbia University, 1957. First was also the wife of Joseph First, Seventeen publisher Walter Annenberg's general counsel. Cooney, John, The Annenbergs (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), 157, 176–80Google Scholar; Jean Savanyu, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Aug. 1963, 79.
4 Sylvia Plath's first publication in Seventeen was her story “And Summer Will Not Come Again,” in Jan. 1950, with her poem “Ode to a Bitten Plum” appearing in the Nov. 1950 issue. Sylvia Plath, “And Summer Will Not Come Again,” Seventeen, Jan. 1950, 191, 275–76; Plath, “Ode to a Bitten Plum,” Seventeen, Nov. 1950, 104; Plath, “Initiation,” Seventeen, Jan. 1953, 64. Lois Duncan won third prize in Seventeen's Short Story contest in 1951, second prize in 1952, and first prize in 1953, the first year that Seventeen began publishing winners’ stories in their Jan. issues. See her biographical blurb in Lois Duncan, “Return,” Seventeen, Jan. 1953, 60, 96–98. Audre Lorde published several poems (as Audrey Lorde) in Seventeen: Audrey Lorde, “Spring,” Seventeen, April 1951, 136; Lorde, “My World,” Seventeen, Aug. 1955, 230. Paul Bartel, “It's All Yours: I Make Movies: Young Film Enthusiast at Work,” Seventeen, Nov. 1955, 94, 156–57. Samuel Delany wrote later of his irritation with Seventeen's editing of his work (a second piece was rejected as “too intelligent”), but did note his appreciation the $200 he was paid for the cut-down version of the piece Seventeen did publish. Samuel Delany, “The Compleat Folk Singer,” Seventeen, Jan. 1962, 32; Delany, Samuel R., The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957–1965 (New York: New American Library, 1989), 107Google Scholar. Laurel Thatcher, “Sugar City Christmas,” Seventeen, Dec. 1957, 57, 112. Ulrich also noted that her work was heavily edited. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher, “A Pail of Cream,” Journal of American History, 89, 1 (June 2002), 43–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
5 Carley Moore, “Writing Trouble: ‘Seventeen’ Magazine and the Girl Writer,” PhD dissertation, New York University, 2004. Moore's unpublished dissertation is the most comprehensive discussion of girls’ writings in Seventeen magazine. See also Mazey-Richardson, Tessa, “From Private to Public? Changing Perceptions of Young Women in Seventeen Magazine, 1955–1965,” Global Studies of Childhood, 8, 3 (Sept. 2018), 292–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Helgren, Jennifer, American Girls and Global Responsibility: A New Relation to the World During the Early Cold War (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. My thinking about Seventeen as a potential community for intellectual girls is influenced by Sarah Scripps's argument that early twentieth-century magazines like Boys’ Life, Popular Science, and toy manufacturers’ magazines – texts designed to promote consumption – were also platforms for children's intellectual networks. Sarah Scripps, “Science Fairs before Sputnik: Adolescent Scientific Culture in Contemporary America,” PhD dissertation, University of South Carolina, 2014, 52–65, at https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/3053, accessed 25 Sept. 2020. My thinking about girl reviewers using Seventeen columns to introduce readers to more serious and even subversive texts is shaped by Julia Mickenberg's discussion of juvenile series as a genre turned to more radical purposes due to the devalued formulaicness of series novels. Mickenberg, Julia L., Learning from the Left: Children's Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006)Google Scholar.
6 Kelley, Mary, Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America's Republic (Chapel Hill, NC: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, University of North Carolina Press, 2008)Google Scholar. Cf. also McMahon, Lucia, Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hunter, Jane H., How Young Ladies Became Girls: The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002)Google Scholar; Faehmel, Babette, College Women in the Nuclear Age: Cultural Literacy and Female Identity, 1940–1960 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012)Google Scholar; Helgren; Rebecca Stiles Onion, “How Science Became Child's Play: Science, Technology, and the Culture of American Childhood, 1890–1970,” PhD dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, 2012, 202–9, 255–81; Anderson, Jill, “Dinny Gordon, Intellectual: Anne Emery's Postwar Junior Fiction and Girls’ Intellectual Culture,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 7, 2 (Spring 2014), 243–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Driscoll, Catherine, Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 34, 74–77Google Scholar.
7 Wrote the editor in the 1946 announcement, “There's a long word – plagiarism – with an ugly meaning. It is the theft of someone else's written words. To an inexperienced writer, this may not seem as wrong as taking material things. But ideas-put-into-words are material things. The professional writer not only gets paid for the first time his words are printed, but often adds to his income when those are reprinted. If he doesn't get money, reprints make his future writing more valuable.” “It's All Yours,” Seventeen, March 1946, 21, 23–24, 21.
8 “A Story By …,” Seventeen, Oct. 1946, 170–71.
9 “I Believe,” Seventeen, July 1960, 107.
10 Gilbert, Nan, See Yourself in Print: A Handbook for Young Writers (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1968), 38, 41, 70, 177Google Scholar.
11 [Alice Beaton Thompson], “It's All Yours,” Seventeen, Jan. 1953, 9; “It's All Yours,” Seventeen, March 1946, 21, 23–24; “A Story By …,” Seventeen, Oct. 1946, 170–71. Cf. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989; first published 1929).
12 On Helen Valentine's vision for Seventeen see Helen Valentine, “Seventeen Says Hello,” Seventeen, Sept. 1944, 32–33; Valentine, “Happy 1st Birthday,” Seventeen, Sept. 1945, 61; Massoni, Kelley, Fashioning Teenagers: A Cultural History of Seventeen Magazine (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2010)Google Scholar; Kelly Schrum, “‘Teena Means Business’: Teenage Girls’ Culture and Seventeen Magazine,” in Sherrie A. Inness, ed., Delinquents and Debutants: Twentieth-Century American Girls’ Cultures (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 134–63; Schrum, Some Wore Bobby Sox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls’ Culture, 1920–1945 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004). Cf. also Devlin, Rachel, Relative Intimacy: Fathers, Adolescent Daughters, and Postwar American Culture (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 93–102Google Scholar; Record, Angela R., “Born to Shop: Teenage Women and the Marketplace in the Postwar United States,” in Meehan, Eileen R., ed., Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 181–95Google Scholar; Helgren.
13 Valentine, “Happy 1st Birthday,” 61.
14 Schrum, “Teena”; Schrum, Some Wore Bobby Sox; Massoni. On “grind” as a negative term for a young woman intellectual, usually associated with spinsterhood, inattention to beauty and hygiene (“greasy grind”), even developmental arrest, see Faehmel, 31–40.
15 Charles A. Bucher, “Looking Ahead to College,” Seventeen, April 1959, 28–30; later columns were written by David Klein. “David Klein, 82, Ex-professor and Writer,” New York Times, 28 May 2001. Cf. Arthur C. Clarke, “A Look at Tomorrow: Man vs. Machine,” Seventeen, March 1955, 38–39; Clarke, “A Look at Tomorrow: Into the Abyss,” Seventeen, July 1955, 16. The “Talks to Teens” columns, which included essays written by Roth, Philip, Seeger, Pete, Moore, Marianne, Stravinsky, Igor, Wilkins, Roy, and Glenn Seaborg of the Atomic Energy Commission, among others, were collected into a book published in 1966. Enid Haupt, ed., In My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons (New York: MacMillan, 1966)Google Scholar.
16 “The Reviewing Stand,” Seventeen, Oct. 1945, 10; Cf. Margaret C. Scoggin, “Fables They Shall Not Read,” ALA Bulletin, 1 Nov. 1952, 323–50; Amanda Kirstin Allen, “The Girls’ Guide to Power: Romancing the Cold War,” PhD dissertation, University of Alberta, 2010, 128–50, at https://doi.org/10.7939/R3RM0W, accessed 25 Sept. 2020.
17 “Books,” Seventeen, Oct. 1944, 6, 72.
18 Helgren, 32–33.
19 “Books,” Seventeen, Sept. 1944, 6, 88. A review of Seventeenth Summer appeared several months later in the “Books” column. “Books,” Seventeen, Feb. 1945, 117, 128.
20 First's association of this book with “younger sisters” echoes junior novelist Anne Emery's statements about junior novels being aimed at younger teenage girls – while also suggesting an attempt to frame Seventeen as directed to “older” girls, which was not necessarily accurate, but would have flattered younger readers as being “older” and more mature than their “younger” sisters. Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Dec. 1957, 20; Anne Emery, “Reaching the Young Readers,” Kentucky Library Association Bulletin, Jan. 1959, 10–12. On Scoggin's promotion of the junior novel as most appropriate for girl readers, see Allen, “Girls’ Guide to Power.”
21 First earned a PhD in education and child development from Bryn Mawr in 1966. Lorett Treese, Bryn Mawr College archivist, email message to author, 12 Feb. 2014.
22 Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, July 1957, 12. During the postwar era, professional educators’ journals such as English Journal and Clearing House published many articles debating the value of the traditional book report assignment. First's 1960 “Write a Better Book Review” column, though addressed directly to students rather than to educators, reflects the use of the book report/book review model in schools.
23 Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Aug. 1957, 58.
25 Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read: Write a Better Book Review This Semester,” Seventeen, Sept. 1960, 28.
26 Cf. [Kelly Schrum], introduction to Helen G. First, “Write a Better Book Review This Semester,” reprinted in Jane Greer, ed., Girls and Literacy in America: Historical Perspectives to the Present (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003), 196–97.
27 Philip Roth, “Talks to Teens: They Won't Make You Normal,” Seventeen, April 1963, 170, 208.
28 Ibid., 208. Only two of the books listed by Roth were reviewed in “Curl Up and Read.” Nineteen-year-old Jon Briggs reviewed both The Great Gatsby and Look Homeward, Angel in Oct. 1964. Jon Briggs, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Oct. 1964, 17. Lord of the Flies was mentioned frequently in Seventeen, functioning as a placeholder for “serious” intellectual reading, likely also read for a school assignment. Seventeen published several letters to the editor responding to Roth's suggestions, most of them favorable, but one, “M.S.,” wrote, “I admired Philip Roth until I saw his suggested list of books. The idea of mentioning Madame Bovary, one of the five greatest novels ever written, in the same breath as that mess of modern pseudo-psychological trash, Lord of the Flies, shows Mr. Roth to be a man of the shoddiest standards.” M.S., “Your Letters,” Seventeen, June 1963, 4.
29 Roth, “Talks to Teens,” 170, 208.
30 Cf. Scoggin, “Fables They Shall Not Read;” Burton, Dwight L., “Teaching Literature to Our Youth Today: Helping Them to Grasp Its Meanings,” English Journal, 44, 5 (May 1955), 274–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Edwards, Margaret A., “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning,” English Journal, 46, 8 (Nov. 1957), 461–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Alm, Richard S., “The Glitter and the Gold,” English Journal, 44, 6 (Sept. 1955), 315–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
31 Roth, “Talks to Teens,” 170, 208.
33 Madge Hildebrandt, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Sept. 1965, 22.
34 Loke, Jaime and Harp, Dustin, “Evolving Themes of Masculinity in Seventeen Magazine: An Analysis of 1945–1955 and 1995–2005,” Journal of Magazine and New Media Research, 12, 1 (Fall 2010), 1–21Google Scholar. For important treatments of highly paternalistic male–female dynamics in postwar American culture and media, cf. Nash, Ilana, American Sweethearts: Teenage Girls in Twentieth-Century Popular Culture (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006)Google Scholar; Devlin, Rachel, Relative Intimacy: Fathers, Adolescent Daughters, and Postwar American Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005)Google Scholar. Anecdotal internal evidence suggests that there were boys who read Seventeen; Seventeen's earliest “Letters” columns reprinted letters from male readers, including several servicemen, who praised the magazine and, in at least one case, expressed the wish that a similar magazine existed for boys. “Thank You for Your Letters,” Seventeen, Jan. 1945, 4, 5; “Thank You for Your Letters,” Seventeen, Feb. 1945, 116. Cf. the discussion of male servicemen's fan letters to Maureen Daly praising Seventeenth Summer in Allen, Amanda K., “‘Dear Miss Daly’: 1940s Fan Letters to Maureen Daly and the Age-Grading and Gendering of Seventeenth Summer,” Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 41, 1 (2016), 24–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
35 David Zalkind, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, March 1964, 80; James Stone, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, June 1964, 30.
36 First, who was Jewish, briefly reviewed Yaël Dayan's novels New Face in the Mirror (1959) and Envy the Frightened (1961) in her Feb. 1961 column and Dayan's later novel Dust in her May 1963 column, just a month after Philip Roth's “Talks to Teens” guest column on novel reading was published. Quote from Roth, “Talks to Teens,” 208. Helen G. First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Feb. 1961, 42; First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, May 1963, 56.
37 Brigitte Fitz, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, May 1965, 70.
38 Patrick Coleman, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, June 1966, 20.
39 Maeve Kinkead, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Sept. 1963, 164.
40 Ann McCoid, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Nov. 1967, 32.
41 Susie Anker, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Dec. 1965, 146.
42 Kinkead, “Curl Up and Read,” Aug. 1963; Susie Anker, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Dec. 1965, 146; Sharon Fujioka, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Dec.1967, 138.
43 Jean Savanyu, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Aug. 1963, 79.
44 Several “Curl Up and Read” columns included books identified as “out of print, available in libraries,” including The Diary of Selma Lagerlöf (1936), Gwen Raverst's Period Piece (1952), Stratis Myrivilis's The Mermaid Madonna (1949), and Maria Flores's Woman with the Whip: Eva Peron (1952). Sherry Lauyans, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Feb. 1965, 174; Susie Anker, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Oct. 1965, 170; Kristine Anderson, Seventeen, Sept. 1966, 34; Penny Woolcock, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Feb. 1967, 96. Seventeen's short-story collection Seventeen from Seventeen (1967) was reviewed in July 1967. Elizabeth Allen's novel The Loser (1965), an extension of a short story Allen had published in the March and April 1963 issues, was mentioned in May 1965. Ruth Jarmul, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, July 1967, 38; Fitz, “Curl Up and Read,” 70.
45 Abigail First, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1958, 24. The 1940 census shows Helen and Joseph First living in Philadelphia with one-year-old Abigail, her older sister Elsa, and a 19-year-old African American live-in servant, Christine Tate. US Census Bureau, year 1940, census place Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll T627 3723, page 3B, enumeration district 51-1103, in Ancestry.com, 1940 United States Federal Census, accessed 25 Sept. 2020.
46 Karen Sánchez-Eppler has noted that many texts or objects created by children are created in response to specific prompts: write a thank-you note to Grandma, write a book report for English class. How the creator – child, teenager, adult – incorporates or even transcends those requirements is what allows us to read their work as individually expressive. Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Dependent States: The Child's Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005).
47 Kinkead, “Curl Up and Read,” 164.
49 Edwina Campbell, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Sept. 1967, 234.
52 Ibid., 234. Campbell's sympathetic treatment of Hidenari Terasaki's resistance to the “brutal” Japanese regime echoes girls’ organizations’ postwar efforts to frame Japanese girls as potential friends. Helgren, American Girls, 82–94.
53 Diana Deverell, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1965, 115.
55 Kathleen B. Callanan, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1968, 116.
57 Kristine Anderson, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Sept. 1966, 34.
59 Debora Greger, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, May 1967, 208. On intellectual desire see Jill Anderson, “Dinny Gordon, Intellectual: Anne Emery's Postwar Junior Fiction and Girls’ Intellectual Culture,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 7, 2 (Spring 2014), 243–66.
60 Lloyd Rose, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, May 1966, 190; Margaret Shea had previously reviewed In Cold Blood in Feb. 1966. Margaret Shea, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Feb. 1966, 182. Despite the masculine name, Lloyd Rose was a girl; her Sept. 1965 “In My Opinion” column included a small photograph of her. Lloyd Rose, “In My Opinion,” Seventeen, Sept. 1965, 222.
61 Rose, “Curl Up and Read,” 190.
62 Sandra Frisvold, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Nov. 1964, 24.
65 Carol Ferdinandsen, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, May 1969, 32.
66 Ibid., 32. Ferdinandsen quoted from the poem “Suzanne Takes You Down.” Cohen wrote this poem about Suzanne Verdal, a 17-year-old dancer Cohen met in Montreal in the early 1960s; Verdal, ten years younger than Cohen, was the partner of a friend of Cohen's. Cohen, Leonard, “Suzanne Takes You Down,” in Cohen, Parasites of Heaven (Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 1966), 70–71Google Scholar; the version in Selected Poems misprints the final line as “she's touched her perfect body with her mind.” Cohen, “Suzanne Takes You Down,” in Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956–1968 (New York: Viking Press, 1968), 210. Simmons, Sylvia, I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (New York, HarperCollins, 2012), 124–30Google Scholar.
67 Moore, “Writing Trouble.”
68 Eve Kosofsky, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1964, 18.
69 Ibid., 18. This eagerness is particularly haunting given the adult Sedgwick's conversations with her therapist Shannon van Wey, as published in her Dialogue on Love, about her deep depression at the age of 13 – the age printed in her “Curl Up and Review” column byline. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Dialogue on Love (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), passim, esp. 75–78.
70 James Stone, “Curl Up and Read,” June 1964, 30; “Letters,” Seventeen, Aug. 1964, 4, 20. The only other “Curl Up and Read” column which received any attention in the Letters column was Madeline Tress's Jan. 1966 review of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which readers criticized for a factual mistake. The editor noted Tress's apology. Madeline Tress, “Curl Up and Read,” Seventeen, Jan. 1966, 31; “Letters,” Seventeen, March 1966, 14; Kosofsky, “Curl Up and Read.” Lana Lin has noted that Sedgwick's other experience with magazine writing – her advice column “Off My Chest,” published in MAMM (a magazine for women with breast cancer) from Feb. 1998 through Jan. 2003 – also did not receive responses. In a 2000 interview, Sedgwick stated, laughing, “Nominally it's an advice column, but I make up all the letters. I wish people would write and ask for my advice.” Lin, Lana, Freud's Jaw and Other Lost Objects: Fractured Subjectivity in the Face of Cancer (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017), 83–94Google Scholar; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “This Piercing Bouquet: An Interview with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,” interview by Stephen M. Barber and David L. Clark, in Barber and Clark, eds., Regarding Sedgwick: Essays on Queer Culture and Critical Theory (New York: Routledge, 2002), 243–62, 255. Sylvia Plath's four-year correspondence with Eddie Cohen, a 21-year-old English major who sent her a fan letter following the appearance of her story “And Summer Will Not Come Again” in Seventeen hints at the possibilities of intellectual companionship triggered by but not recorded in the magazine itself. Wilson, Andrew, Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted (New York: Scribner, 2013), 93–98Google Scholar.
71 Sedgwick, H. A., “From H. A. Sedgwick,” in Reading Sedgwick, ed. Berlant, Lauren (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 36Google Scholar.
72 Sedgwick, Dialogue on Love, 75.
No CrossRef data available.