Slideshow: Radio Hats, Wireless Rats, Flying Families

This is a slideshow of some images taken, with a snapshot camera,  from LIFE magazine from 1936 to 1960. I was doing another research project when I noticed  the emergence of  some discursive consistencies, visually, in the ads and stories. I retraced my steps and started to photograph the pages I was looking at to keep a record and to see what patterns were taking shape. I then identified 3 clusters of images I thought were the most persistent, which became the subthemes in my analysis of the “wireless imaginary” in the post World War 2 period:  ‘words with wings’;  ‘family circles’; and ‘aerial perceptions’.  The slides represent some of the moments of this “wireless imaginary” a visual history and culture tied to ideas of nation and territory, themselves swirling and circling around and through dreams of unfettered mobility, portablity, and motion. The images were used as inspiration (and visual evidence) for the analysis in the article “Radio Hats, Wireless Rats and Flying Families” found in the anthology Sampling the Wireless Spectrum (eds Crow, Longford, Sawchuk, University of Toronto Press, 2010). Caren Kaplan’s paper on militarization, mobility and American national “spatialization” reminded me of the existence of this image-set. I think they complement her article and analysis.


They are saved (from powerpoint) as a PDF. It is called “Brown” because it is from a slideshow presented at Brown University some years ago. Be warned, it is a rather large file and takes a minute or two to download.

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