Author Archives: Eurie Dahn

Reproductions of Magazines

As much as I love the Modernist Journals Project, I do like to assign hard copy reproductions of magazine issues (with advertisements!) to my students whenever possible. This gives them access to some magazines that are not available on the MJP, and it mimics more closely the experience of the original readers of the magazines.

Below are links to three reproductions of magazines issues that are easily available.  I would love to hear of others, so, if you know of any, please do note them in the comments.

Blast 1


Survey Graphic, March 1925, the Harlem Number

Caribbean Newspaper Digital Library

The Caribbean Newspaper Digital Library looks like an amazing resource for digitized periodicals from the Caribbean, including Cuba’s El Diario de la Marina (with issues from 1899) and Haiti’s literary journals La ronde and La nouvelle ronde (with issues dating from 1901). (Caveat: The quality of the digitization seems a bit mixed, and I’m not sure how searchable the issues are.)

Thanks to the Black Atlantic Resource Debate Blog, where I first learned of this periodicals resource. Some highlights of the digital library are listed here.

CFP: Knowledge Networks

Here is another CFP that may be of interest: “Knowledge Networks: American Periodicals, Print Cultures, and Communities” at the University of Nottingham, UK, on May 27, 2011. The CFP states that, while the focus of the conference is on the nineteenth century, proposals for all periods of American print culture are welcome. The deadline for paper proposals is January 31, 2011.

Beyond Calisthenics with Words: Reading Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture

Our second installment of the MagMods Bookclub reading of Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart comes from Eurie Dahn, Assistant Professor of English at the College of Saint Rose.  Professor Dahn specializes in modernist literature, African-American literature, and the places where they intersect.  Some of these places include the periodicals and discussions of manners and respectability.  Her current research project, “Race and the Sociological Imagination: Jean Toomer and Robert E. Park,” examines the discourse of social change as it emerges from Harlem Renaissance literature and American sociology during the 1920s.

In examining the smart culture of New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, Catherine Keyser argues for the networks that existed between women writers who wrote for, appeared in, criticized, advocated for, and consumed the magazines.  By placing Dorothy Parker in relation to someone like Harlem Renaissance writer Jessie Fauset, Keyser asks us to pay attention to the strategies that these writers engaged in to negotiate a magazine culture that both subjected them to limiting gender roles and gave them the medium to criticize these expectations.  Accounts of the periodical culture of the early twentieth century tend to focus on the role of men (with some notable exceptions, of course), particularly in terms of strong editorial presences, and Keyser’s book works to reveal the pleasures and political strategies of women writers among and outside of these magazines.  It also moves away from simply discussing modernists and their little magazines to focusing on the middlebrow magazine culture that criticized but also intersected with modernism.  These shifts – of gender and of brows – are invaluable. Continue reading

Magazines in Literature

One non-quantitative way to categorize magazines — or, at least, the way people perceived magazines — is to track different instances of magazine reading in literature. Certainly this is highly unscientific but it can give us a way of seeing the work a particular magazine title does in the period. For example, is the magazine placed in an oppositional relationship to the literary work in which it appears? Or not?

This came up because I just finished reading In Cold Blood for fun and periodicals kept popping up. (Periodicals are everywhere now!) So, Perry (one of the killers) is described as being bored by the magazines that the sheriff’s wife gives to him while he is in a holding cell: Good Housekeeping and McCall’s (Vintage 254). In contrast, Mrs. Clutter, one of Perry’s victims, is described as subscribing to Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Reader’s Digest, and Together: Midmonth Magazine for Methodist Families (30). On a purely simplistic level, this highlights the difference between Perry and Mrs. Clutter; it also shows Perry’s distance from a particular kind of domestic world. It also reveals the kind of women who may be reading these kinds of magazines. There’s actually a ton of reading material in Capote’s book, including an excerpted article from The American Journal of Psychiatry (298) and Doc Savage pulp magazines (306).  In fact, Reverend Post makes a connection between Perry and Doc Savage (who is described as a “fiction hero popular among adolescent readers of pulp magazines a generation ago.”)  The book was serialized in the New Yorker, which also provides a contrast between Capote and the people he writes about. This is a pretty simplistic reading, and I’m sure more interesting things can be done with this.

Similarly, Toomer mentions Literary Digest in the “Kabnis” section of Cane; Halsey (who is a black Southerner) says, “I gets t thinkin. I used to subscribe t th Literary Digest an that helped a bit. But there werent nothing I could sink m teeth int.” Parts of “Kabnis” were published in the little magazine, Broom, so there’s an interplay between those who read Literary Digest and those who read Broom.

I’m sure there are many more examples of magazine reading in literature, so feel free to post them in the comments if you’d like. There’s also a Modernist Journals Project wiki page on this topic.  I think this can give us a way of thinking about perceived readership of the magazines and also give us more information about what work the magazines are doing in the literature.  Eurie.