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The Only Wonderful ThingsThe Creative Partnership of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis$
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Melissa J. Homestead

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190652876

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190652876.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

“The Thing Not Named”

“The Thing Not Named”

Edith Lewis’s Advertising Career and Willa Cather’s Fiction and Celebrity in the 1920s

(p.170) 4 “The Thing Not Named”
The Only Wonderful Things

Melissa J. Homestead

Oxford University Press

In 1919, Edith Lewis began her long career as an advertising copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson Co. This chapter considers the advertising campaigns for Woodbury’s Facial Soap and Jergens Lotion, for which Lewis was the sole copywriter in the 1920s, in relation to Willa Cather’s fiction and aesthetic theories. Lewis’s embrace of advertising as a career and Cather’s rejection of modern consumerism seem to register a conflict within their relationship. However, it could also be productive, even playful, as the two women engaged in an implicit dialogue about the pleasures and perils of modern materialism and the desires it could engender. The chapter also considers how Lewis shaped Cather’s approach to celebrity, focusing on Edward Steichen’s Vanity Fair portrait of Cather in 1927 and contrasting Cather’s approach to celebrity and advertising with that of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Keywords:   advertising, women’s magazines, modernism, celebrity, male gaze, A Lost Lady, My Mortal Enemy, “The Novel Démeublé, ” Vanity Fair, Edward Steichen

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