Sponsored by the Department's Graduate Colloquium series, this lecture examines the history and culture of the "Cosmopolitan Woman."
In everyday parlance, “cosmopolitanism” evokes neither philosophical nor social scientific notions, but rather images and ideas derived from popular culture, especially as addressed to women. The “cosmopolitan,” for example, is a popular cocktail consisting of vodka, cointreau, cranberry and lime (made famous on the television series Sex and the City). It also is the name of a glossy women’s magazine, which was launched in 1886 as a “family magazine,” only to become a specifically “women’s magazine” in the 1960s, known for its advice to “cosmo girls” about sex, beauty, and fashion. If the relationship between women, popular culture, and cosmopolitanism is thus obvious, having entered the vernacular in our own time via an explicit address to women, why haven’t more scholars explored it? Professor Petro explores the popular association between women and cosmopolitanism rooted in the post-1960s era and traces the gendering of the term to an earlier time in the twentieth century, specifically to the histories and cultural practices in the 1920s and 1930s.
Patrice Petro, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee