Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Kenneth P. Bendiner

Second Advisor

Jennifer Johung


Advertisements, America, Design, Kitchens, Material Culture, Nineteen-Fifties


During the nineteen-fifties in America the kitchen space and its related objects came to be emblematic of the concerns and ideals of American culture at the time. A study of the advertisements and articles in the periodicals of the era reveals a culture focused on leisure, technology, family life and personal plenty. Through a combined analysis of the images and texts found in surviving vintage magazines of the decade and more recent scholarship on the popular culture of the era it can be seen that the American dream of a happier, easier, more free and more luxurious life was made manifest within the kitchen space. Beyond gaining greater knowledge of the period, a larger goal of this thesis is to encourage greater support and respect for material culture as both a topic and a tool of study.