WELCOME TO THEORYMAG.COM, the online home of THEORY Magazine.
Set to debut in Spring ’07, THEORY covers popular culture from a variety of
theoretical perspectives, with an emphasis on ideas and texts hailing from the
discipline of Cultural Studies.
Intended for a general audience, THEORY is neither a scholarly journal nor a
conventional glossy. Its closest analogue is Entertainment Weekly —as it would
read helmed by the ghost of Roland Barthes.
Adventurous, insightful, jocular, and slightly hyperactive, THEORY’s commentary
explicates the hidden logic of everyday products and practices — from film
documentaries and celebrity scandals, to lingerie ads and sports drinks.
Paying between $100 and $500 for short content, and up to $1,500 for features,
MARKET & AUDIENCE
THEORY vs “ALTERNATIVE” POP CULTURE MAGAZINES
Most new pop culture magazines pitch themselves as “fresh alternatives” to the
market’s bland, familiar products. What adjectives like “fresh” generally amount
to, though, is a mad-libs-style upgrade — duplicating the mainstream magazine’s
template, and filling in the blanks that call for nouns with the names of lesser
known celebrities and more “limited edition” designer objects.
“Alternative” and “mainstream,” in other words, describe varying target audiences
rather than varying approaches. In most respects, both sets of magazines aim to
provide their readers the same narrow set of services — namely, the continual
re-announcement, articulation, and exaltation of culture’s “present tense.”
While magazines like Flaunt, Tokion, and Black Book compete to introduce their
readers to the latest trends, products, and personalities, THEORY inverts those
magazines’ tried-and-tested formula. In lieu of familiar approaches to new topics,
THEORY pursues new approaches to already-familiar topics, offering readers the
thrill of encountering fresh analysis rather than fresh consumer gadgets and new
B-li st celebrities.
THEORY vs HIGH CULTURE MAGAZINES
Among the periodicals which do, in fact, publish original analysis, a high
percentage privilege political commentary (Harper’s, The New Yorker, The
Atlantic, etc.) or devote themselves to a limited range of art forms (Film
Comment, Frieze, Artforum, etc.). Meanwhile, magazines offering a more mix-
and-match approach to culture (n+1, The Believer) almost invariably adopt the
spartan look of academic journals, and —despite occasional forays into film and
music commentary — maintain a strong literary focus.
To quote Inside Higher Ed columnist Scott McLee,
What Steve Martin once said about philosophy also applies to cultural theory:
“When you study it in college, you learn just enough to screw you up for the rest
of your life.”
Whether or not cultural theory “screws up” its students, it often haunts them,
informing their private language and amplifying any temperamental disposition
towards complexity and doubt.
THEORY is a magazine for these ex-students — exposed to academic theory in
English, Film, Comparative Literature, and Art History courses—as well as
current academics, looking for a glossy magazine that offers the medium’s
pleasures (wit, visuals, articles of varying lengths) without sacrificing any
Writers, artists, and other creative professionals — fashion stylists, film editors,
music industry personnel, commercial photographers, etc. — comprise a
possible secondary audience. THEORY’s range of topics, as well as its novel
sensibility, make it ideal reading for any professional on the lookout for
alternative approaches to his or her products —— whether those products are
advertising campaigns, fashion editorials, or television shorts.
THEORY contains four sections, each comprising a distinct approach to popular
FRONT OF BOOK
This section contains shorter commentaries (150 to 2,500 words)
addressing a wide swath of contemporary culture: from film and television
reviews to observations about relatively under-theorized cultural texts and
practices (fast food cuisine, greeting cards, fantasy baseball, etc.). Contributors
include academics as well as other writers with backgrounds in academic theory.
The Front of Book section also incorporates a repertoire of visual content:
graphs, charts, and diagrams. Visual modes of analysis pioneered by theorists
(e.g. semiotic squares) will be especially welcome.
THEORY also publishes longer articles (2,500 to 5,000 words). Most
longer format material will come from existing academic research, which will be
specifically adapted for a popular audience.
Initially, our selection process will favor texts covering television, film,
advertising, fashion, video games, and music — in other words, topics belonging
to the realm of media and popular entertainment.
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
THEORY will maintain throughout the look-and-feel of a visual magazine,
with a relatively high percentage of artwork, photo stories, and other visual
content, as compared with more text-heavy products like The New Yorker or
Generally speaking, artwork and photography will contain content that
functions to examine, question, or subvert the world of popular culture.
SOMETHING something something TK.
FRONT OF BOOK
A viewer’s guide to the religious iconography in television ads for the
prescription drug Claritan.
An analysis of the evolving role of bare feet —— and their alternating
signification of private comfort and public success —— in celebrity profile
An investigation of race relations in King Kong (2005) versus King Kong
(1931) and (1976).
An investigation of the raw food movement, viewed through the lens of
structuralist anthropology (cf. Levi-Strauss’ The Raw and the Cooked).
A historical and semiotic analysis of Mattel’s Barbie doll compared to the
Bratz collection of fashion dolls, which has recently begun to rival Barbie’s
dominance of this market.
ARTWORK & PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo stories based on stills from classic film texts, e.g. Chien Andalou,
Blade Runner, Stella Dallas, etc.
Artwork from artists like Jeremiah Paleck, whose oil paintings depict
landscapes from popular video games, or Graham Dolphin, whose art relies on
obsessively precise doublings (detailed, hand-drawn replications of magazines,
re-castings of vintage perfume bottles, etc.)
Photo work that subverts the standard practices and idioms of fashion