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Elizabeth Riggan

MA work

National Melancholy: American Writers on American Places in Holiday, a Post-War Travel Magazine

At a time in history when America was its most powerful, affluent, and influential, the post-war travel publication, Holiday, was created. “Holiday is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness,” its first editorial states, and like no other magazine before or after, its creators enlisted the nation’s finest writers to illustrate an image of both the exotic and the domestic as destinations that were glamorous and newly accessible, ready and waiting for the American public’s discovery. My major project explores a selection of essays originally published in Holiday by popular American writers on locales within the United States, some of which celebrate and others that highlight the anxieties surrounding the success of a nation and ‘the American Dream.’ Introductory essays contextualize the work of writers including historian Bruce Catton on Michigan, followed by Jack Kerouac on the Seattle area, Truman Capote on life in Brooklyn Heights, Ray Bradbury on the wonders of Disneyland, and Joan Didion on the Sacramento Valley. My project aspires to survey the intricacies of American cultural life during the 1950s and 1960s through the development of travel writing within the pages of Holiday magazine.  


  • Profile
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Critical Writing in Art & Design, 2014

  • I am a writer and cultural historian from Detroit, Michigan, whose interests are far-reaching. With a background in interior design, during my time on the Critical Writing in Art & Design programme, my practice has shifted away from interior architecture to develop my interest in historical, cultural and social analysis. To date, I have written on the anti-architecture of Cedric Price, Detroit’s bankruptcy as it relates to the value of artworks in the Detroit Institute of Arts, temporality in London’s train stations, the emotional relationship between painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and her aging mother, and the absurdity of Karl Lagerfeld, to name a few. Presently, as demonstrated by my major project, I am interested in the development of travel writing, specifically as it relates to the evolution of the tourism industry in America post World War II.


  • Degrees

  • BSc Interior Design, Minor Business. Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI, USA. 2011
  • Experience

  • Intern, Condé Nast Traveller Magazine – Condé Nast Publications, London, UK. Photo Stylist Assistant, Elle Decoration – Hearst Publications, London, UK. Copywriter for, London, UK.
  • Publications

  • House Guests, Kettle’s Yard Exhibition Catalogue, 2013. ; As is the Sea: An Anthology, 2014. ; ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950 to 1978, 2014. ; Ends Meet: Essays on Exchange , 2014. ; The Horse is Dead, Long Live the Horse, 2014.