Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Amanda Wangwright

First Reader

Dr. Catherine Keyser

Second Reader

Dr. Catherine Keyser


The modern girl is one of the most visually memorable female archetypes of the 20th century. She emerged at the beginning of the century in countries across the world and represented the merging of modernity and consumerism, as well as the increasingly visible role of women in the public sphere. She can be seen in the art and media of many different nations around the world, and while her basic essence is the same across countries- a young, cosmopolitan woman who dresses in modern fashions- her specific traits and clothing choices depend heavily on the nation in which she is being depicted. This variation is due to the significant differences in culture, history, and political circumstances that exist between countries.

This thesis focuses specifically on depictions of the modern girl in advertisements in three East Asian nations- Japan, China, and Korea. These three nations were selected as they share a similar history but were in extremely different political and social situations during the beginning of the 20th century. Advertising and magazine depictions of the modern girl in all three countries are examined in order to show how the different circumstances of each of these countries affected the development of the modern girl, as well as what these images can reveal about the attitudes of Japan, China, and Korea during the 1920s and 1930s.

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© 2022, Madelyn Foster