MSA Up-Close is a column we will run until the start of the MSA conference in order to give readers more information on periodical studies related panels at the 2010 conference. We will be posting paper descriptions, abstracts, and panel descriptions; please make comments and raise questions in the Comments section. Our fifth column features María Carla Sánchez’s paper, “Changing Feelings: Fallen Women, Sentimentality, and the Activist Press,” which she will present as part of the The Efficacy of Activism in Modernist Magazines panel.
“Changing Feelings: Fallen Women, Sentimentality, and the Activist Press,” 12 November 2010, 10:30am-12pm
This essay examines late 19th- and early 20th-century newspapers published by women’s “moral reform” organizations. These groups, many of whom were dedicated to the abolition of prostitution and the social rehabilitation of sex workers, viewed the periodical press as an important tool in their efforts to reshape American society. Through close analysis of these efforts, we can see how discourses of sentimentalism employed earlier in the century were refashioned for the dawn of Progressive-era narrative and politics.