Monthly Archives: October 2010

Magazines R.I.P.?

I don’t know how I feel about such things, but here’s your latest gloomy forecast for the magazine.

Why Books?: A Twitter Conference

Childcare issues made it impossible for me to attend the Why Books? conference hosted at my home institution today, so I just spent the past half-hour reading many hundred tweets from the conference (#whybooks).  It’s sort of a brilliant way to “attend” a conference.  You get all the soundbites you would have written down in your notebook/laptop/conference program in the comfort of your own home.  Twitter’s functioning here a bit like an old-fashioned Digest.

Sounds like the conference was amazing.  Big congrats to Leah Price and Ann Blair for putting it together.  Adrian Johns’s paper sounds like it blew the audience away. Peter Stallybrass made the always helpful reminder that only 13% of printed sheets go into books:  a number periodical studies needs to thump loudly.    Paul Duguid’s talk sounds like it was great fun–loads of swipes taken at Google Books, which should resonate with the periodicals crowd.  He takes aim at Google for its naive treatment of books as mere sources for “shucking information,”  which sounds a lot like Scholes and Latham and Scholes and Wulfman on the academy’s use of periodicals.

Which brings me to my last point–in all the tweets, I don’t think magazine or periodicals appeared once.  Hey Why Books?, Why No Magazines?

American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries

Wondering if anyone else received the following announcement from ProQuest, which has partnered off with the Center for Research Libraries.  Comments on the periodicals offered?

Here’s the live link:


It’s here! American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries
Now you can expand your research capabilites with a new full-color, full-text online historical periodicals resource made possible via an innovative partnership between ProQuest and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. This essential collection contains archival quality scans of journal content that can be cross-searched with leading ProQuest collections such as American Periodicals Series Online and ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Upon completion, American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries will contain three million pages that can illuminate your American history research. Click here to request a trial for your library.

Continue reading

Social Network Analysis of Magazine Culture


Author, Genre, and Concept Network for Blast in the Modernist Journals Project

Using software that corporations use to understand organizations, we can establish relationships among magazines, contributors, literary genres, and concepts over time. In fact, we can involve a much more complex set of parameters for more meaningful mining of the data in ways that potentially open up even newer vistas within the field of modernist periodical studies. We should create a central database — my vote would be to locate it at the Modernist Journals Project (MJP) — on which modernism scholars can collaborate.

Social network analysis (SNA) software combines a variety of methods commonly used in digital humanities research, such as text mining, visualization, and modeling. Since modernist periodical studies has since its inception been driven by an archival need to restore information to our knowledge network, SNA software has the capability of synthesizing and analyzing the new information we find as we move forward in our research. Applications like ORA, which I have used to create visualizations in this post, run on spreadsheets that are easy to fill out. So the work of adding information to the archive would not be difficult or time consuming. Continue reading

The MJP Teaching Site and Instructional Wiki

Readers of the Magazine Modernisms Blog may be interested in visiting the expanded teaching and research pages we’re developing at the Modernist Journals Project, which include a new instructional wiki. The specific aim of the site is to help teachers and students make better use of the resources that appear in the MJP archive, though we’re also developing materials that generally address modern periodical studies. Among the materials we’re working on, you’ll find:

Quite a few of the folks who have posted on the MagMods blog have already contributed to one or more of these sections. We look forward to their continued support and welcome contributions by anyone else interested in modern magazines. If you have something to contribute (e.g., a lesson plan, an idea for a research project, etc.),  please write to Mark Gaipa at

MagMods Reports!: T.S. Eliot Society 31st Annual Meeting

This column is dedicated to covering events, conferences, and papersPlease send in contributions using the comment box on our About page.

The T. S. Eliot Society held its 31st Annual Meeting in St. Louis from September 24-26, 2010.  It’s hard to think of another modernist who so depended on magazines to establish his place in the literary field.  Two papers at the meeting discussed Eliot and periodicals.

Matthew Vaughn’s paper, “You Cannot Value Him Alone”: The Waste Land in its Magazine Context,” suggested that Eliot’s editing of the first issue of The Critierion needs to be read as part of not just the context but perhaps even the text of The Waste Land. Vaughn did a reading of the entire issue to show how each contribution to Volume 1 number 1 fit into Eliot’s aesthetics and complemented his poem.  Click here to read an abstract of the essay. Continue reading

In Memory of Wallace Martin

I’ve only recently learned that Wallace Martin, professor emeritus at the University of Toledo, died this past July.  I first came across Professor Martin’s work as an undergrad; his Recent Theories of Narrative opened up the world of narratology to me.  This site and modern periodical studies as a whole owe him a great deal for his “The New Age” under Orage: Chapters in English Cultural History. As Robert Scholes wrote in his response to the MagMods questionnaire, it was Martin’s book that got him interested in magazines, so without Professor Martin there might well have never been a Modernist Journals Project.  How ironic that Professor Martin died during  the NEH Seminar on Magazine Modernism, the first of its kind, but also perhaps somehow appropriate as a tribute to his work.

James Murphy

MagMods Questionnaire

The Magazine Modernisms Questionnaire is reviving a fascinating but largely neglected feature of modern and modernists magazines (see Lori Cole’s post below).  Every few weeks we will feature a prominent scholar in periodical studies and pose the same three questions to them.

1.  How did periodicals become a part of your research and/or teaching?
2.  Why is it important to study and/or teach periodicals?
3.  What is the next step in periodical studies?

No one is more prominent in the field of modern periodical studies than our first respondent, Robert Scholes.  Professer Scholes is Research Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Professor Emeritus of English, Comparative Literature, and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.  Along with making major contributions to the study of Joyce, narrative, structuralism, and modernism, Professor Scholes is one of the leading figures in modern periodical studies.  Continue reading

What is the questionnaire?

“What is modernism? What should Latin American art be? What is your attitude towards art today?” Such are the questions posed to artists and writers through the questionnaire, a ubiquitous genre issued by magazine editors to their contributors to assess a community’s shared political or artistic purpose.

While the questionnaire can be traced to the paragone of the Italian Renaissance, wherein the merits painting and sculpture were actively debated, it first appeared in newspapers starting in the late 19th century. While some of these questionnaires focused on aesthetic preoccupations, such as the 1905 Mercure de France questions, “Is Impressionism finished? Can it renew itself?” others mined the intersection of art and politics, like the 1926 “Negro in Art” questionnaire in Crisis. As modernists adapted the questionnaire to suit its various projects, it also playfully reinvented it, as in the case of the 1929 Little Review questionnaire that culminated with the question “Why do you go on living?” Continue reading

Are Magazines Relevant?: The American Magazines Conference 2010

I imagine that most readers are academics or come at MagMods with an academic mindset.  We’re not the only ones with something at stake in the field, however.  The American Magazine Conference has begun in Chicago–with a keynote by Oprah!  It runs October 3-5, 2010.  It’s an industry conference hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America (that’s why you missed the cfp!), whose website is worth looking at for the data alone.  The theme this year is “Innovation 2010.”  It looks to be a lot about digital media and technology (Facebook, Hulu, the iPad, etc.), which is not at all surprising, given that this seems like a moment in which magazines might be under even greater threat than the book.  Or have the  reports of the death of both books and magazines been greatly exaggerated?

The MPA certainly thinks so, as they’ve started a whole ad campaign called “The Power of Print,” clearly designed to tout the magazine’s vitality in the age of the internet.  Here’s the ad I find most fascinating:

The part I love is paragraph 3, where they declare that magazines are “neither obsessed with immediacy not trapped by the daily news cycle” and, as a result, “promote deeper connections” and “create relationships.”  So, the medium once derided as dangerously addictive in its attendance to the ephemeral now becomes the source of stability and depth, in contrast to the internet.  So, if the web is the new magazine, and magazines are the new books, then what are books?

–James Murphy