Koenraad, Jennie and I asked the audience to look at the volumes in groups of six to ten – each table was able to have two copies of the magazine so everyone was able to look at, touch and search through two different years in the magazine’s history. They then reported back to us with their assumptions about who the magazine was marketed to and designed for, using evidence from the physical copies to support their responses.
As researchers on the Lady’s Magazine, hearing the audience responses about the publication’s intended audience was particularly interesting in that it allows us to consider how we might modify the ways in which we present our work on the magazine. Overcoming assumptions about exactly what the periodical was, and who read and wrote for it, must be an essential part of our discussion of the periodical. It is too easy to take for granted the evidence the magazine itself offers in its full title Lady’s Magazine; or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement and to thus overlook the diversity of not only its readership and authors, but also the scope of its content.
Our audience was then given different topics; we asked them to consider how the magazine presents fashion, celebrity, masculinity and the news. One of the best parts of the workshop was going between the different tables and seeing how excited the attendees were when engaging with the material artifact.
The day after the conference we returned to SCOLAR to take advantage of the library’s holdings – Jennie and Koenraad were interested in the copies of the Lady’s Magazine that included advertisements –
This was our second visit to Cardiff as a project team after presenting a panel last summer at BARS, and again we had a wonderful time at the University, discussing our work to a receptive and engaged audience and learning much from their responses to the magazine and our project.