Category Archives: Events

MagMods Essay Club: Moretti Replies!

The Essay Club comes to an end, as the book club did, with a generous reply from the author.  Franco Moretti is the author of Signs Taken for Wonders (1983), The Way of the World (1987), Modern Epic (1995), Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998), and Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005) and the chief editor of The Novel (Princeton, 2006). He founded the Center for the Study of the Novel and, with Matt Jockers, the Stanford Literary Lab.

First of all, thanks to all of you for your generosity and engagement. Though I cannot address all your points, I will try to include all controversial and/or interesting issues. Answers 1-3 concern the pamphlet; 4-6 broader issues, that are open or require more thought. And 7, a couple of problems raised by Matt Huculak. Continue reading

Re: The Copyright Rebellion (5/29/11)

Courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education, a spate of new articles appeared yesterday on potential legislation affecting copyright and ongoing battles over digital access in the wake of the March 2011 GoogleBooks decision.


Check out Related Content for others; all are likely to be of interest to several MagMods members.

CFP: William Carlos Williams, MLA 2012

Call for Papers: MLA, Jan 5-8, 2012 (Seattle)
William Carlos Williams’s A Voyage to Pagany and Pagany (1930-1933)

This panel invites papers for a session dedicated to both William Carlos Williams’s A Voyage to Pagany and Williams’s association with the little magazine, Pagany (1930-1933). Abstracts may include, but are not limited to, the following topics: travel writing, transatlantic modernism, cosmopolitanism, expatriates, nativism, romance, realism, landscapes, Paris in the 1920s, American modernism in Italy, collectivities, little magazines, the serialization of White Mule, or Williams in connection to other Pagany contributors, including Dos Passos, Caldwell, H.D. or Zukofsky.

Send 300 word abstracts to by March 10, 2011.

CFP: Mediamorphosis

“Mediamorphosis:  Print Culture and Transatlantic Public Sphere(s), 1880-1940″

Sept 9-10, 2011
University of Delaware

This two-day symposium will provide a forum for literary scholars, historians, media historians, and art historians to share works-in-progress on the transformations of print media and Transatlantic public spheres at the turn of the twentieth century.  The symposium will feature work that probes artificial literary-historical boundaries, challenges national divisions, traverses the divide between nineteenth- and early-twentieth century print culture, and links texts and or/writers across different genres or sectors of the print media of the period.  There will be ample time for open discussion; there will be no concurrent panels; participants will be expected to attend all sessions.  The symposium is conceived as a follow-up to the 2007 symposium, “Transatlantic Print Culture, 1880-1940:  Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms,” which resulted in an edited collection under the same title (Palgrave 2008).

A wide array of work is welcome, but papers should engage substantially with several of the following areas of common interest:

*advancing our understanding of print culture’s role in the period’s movements for racial, class, and gender equality.

*identifying and theorizing the relationship between print culture, empire, and cross-cultural (transatlantic, transnational) writing, reading, and publishing.

*bringing the theories and methods of material culture studies to bear on the analysis of print artifacts as “objects” or “things.”

*grasping the increasing textual hybridity of the period’s print artifacts, by examining such phenomena as the interactions between illustration and text and the complex collage effects created by advances and experiments in typography and image reproduction.

*developing our knowledge of Anglo-American links, interactions, and networks among writers, publishers, editors, agents, and other participants in the period’s print culture.

*analyzing and theorizing the relationship between transformations in print culture and evolving notions of authorship and the literary, including the role of the nascent academic field of English, in Britain, the United States, and/or the colonies/commonwealth.

Send 500-word abstracts for 20-minute papers by April 15 to:

Database of Modernist Periodicals: Announcement and Question

I’m pleased to announce that I have begun planning a comprehensive database of Modernist Magazines to be called, “The Database of Modernist Periodicals.” This database was inspired by Scholes and Wulfman’s important contribution to periodical studies, Modernism in the Magazines.

I will make a more detailed announcement this spring, but in the meantime, the database will be designed to be a community undertaking. Much like Turbotax, the database will lead contributors through a series of questions in order to produce a bibliographical correct entry on any modernist magazine. As the database grows, we hope to implement network analysis tools to make it a robust teaching and research environment.

Later this spring, I will ask all of you to look over the draft document and make your own suggestions as to what YOU would like to see in the database.

Finally, I’m looking for a logo for this database. To start this project in a collaborative manner, I would like to ask you all to send me suggestions for “iconic” images of the modernist period published in magazines before 1923 (links to these images would be greatly appreciated).

I look forward to sharing more with all of you, and I wish you all the very best for this coming year.

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.

Magazines and (m)LA, 2011

Well, it ain’t MSA anymore. The magazine slate at MLA is a lot less full than we saw in Victoria, but there’s a nicely diverse group, from Victorian reviews to Love and Rockets and from Irish journalism to Australian avant-garde poetry websites, reminding us of the many, many forms periodicals studies can and should take. Many of the panels have links to descriptions of the papers or panels.  If we’ve missed something, please let us know.

Thursday, 06 January

8. Serial Narrative: Theory and Practice

12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Olympic I, J. W. Marriott

A special session.  Description here.

Presiding: Steven J. Venturino, Loyola Univ., Chicago Continue reading

Having My Cake and Eating It Too: A Reply to the MagMods Book Club

The final installment of the MagMods Book Club reading of Playing Smart comes from the author herself, Catherine Keyser, assistant professor of English at the University of South Carolina.  It has been a tremendous pleasure hosting this book club reading and we are deeply grateful to all the participants but Catherine in particular, who exhibited such grace and fortitude from start to finish.

I’d like to begin my remarks on a personal note rather than a scholarly one.  It was a simultaneously humbling and inspiring experience to read such thoughtful and eloquent posts from the book club participants responding to Playing Smart.  The generosity of these intellectual explorations, the contextualization and conceptualization of magazine culture and humor that each contributor shared, is an embarrassment of riches.  I offer my deepest thanks, not only for your feedback on my work but also for the delightful experience of reading your blog posts—each one witty, expert, and provocative.

The seven posts fell into three major categories that I will tackle here (though there is much more that I could say and write about in reply to such rich posts): the humor and style of these smart writers and how (or whether) they produce cultural critique; the challenge of defining a periodical context; and the role of irony in modern and contemporary media. Continue reading

Reading Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart

The seventh installment of the MagMods book club reading of Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart comes from Robert Scholes, 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.  He is the founder and director of  the Modernist Journals Project, the co-author with Sean Latham of the influential 2006 PMLA article “The Rise of Periodical Studies,” and the co-author with Cliff Wulfman of the invaluable book Modernism in the Magazines (2010).

I liked Catherine Keyser’s book a lot, because I learned a lot from it–both about writers I knew pretty well, like Mary McCarthy and about others I should have known more about but didn’t, like Dawn Powell.  I am not sure, however, that, if pressed, I could neatly summarize the thesis of the book as a whole: something about smartness as a two-edged weapon for women, I suppose, enabling them and wounding them at the same time. What I learned, however, beyond the elegant close readings of a variety of texts, was something about the way that magazine culture worked from the twenties through the sixties. This book doesn’t just read magazines, it reads the way magazines play roles in the lives and in the fictions of the writers that are discussed. The smart magazine–whether socially, culturally, or politically smart–mattered in that world. I don’t know if any print medium matters that much in our own day, though I rather think television has largely replaced the magazine, now, and digital social networks may be getting ready to challenge television. What I wonder, then, is whether smartness is tied to that world. It seems less visible in our own. I suspect that smartness and the magazines of modernism are tightly linked–a message and a medium that belonged together, so that we really need to understand one to understand the other. Anyway, I am grateful to Catherine Keyser for what she has taught me and for what she has led me to think about, as I read her book over the last couple of weeks.

Tradition and Cynicism in Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart

The sixth installment of the MagMods book club reading of Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart comes from Robert Hurd, Associate Professor of English at Anne Arundel Community College. He has published on Flaubert and Seinfeld in New Literary History and Joyce and primitivism in The James Joyce Quarterly. His current book project is a study of literary notebooks as a genre, with a special focus on the modernist period.

One of the great strengths of Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart lies in its delicate balance of close readings of unjustly neglected texts with its working out of a theory of feminist critique from within commodity culture. While taking in Keyser’s careful theoretical development of humor-as-critique in the introduction, I was struck by Keyser’s brief mention of Lauren Berlant who “warns against feminist overreadings that reflect the critic’s desire to find political resistance and then obscure complicity and compromise in middlebrow texts” (9). Berlant’s warning resonated with my own thoughts: who reads humor by women writers in a middlebrow periodical as powerful critique? Is it the 21st century scholar with her or his own transformative political “desire” (or in Keyser’s quote from Michael Warner’s definition of counterpublics as “spaces of circulation in which it is hoped that the poesis of scene making will be transformative, not merely replicative” I would draw attention to the notion of the critic’s hope (italics mine))? Did the actual readers of Vanity Fair or the other “smarts” read it as such a critique and is there evidence that it indeed had a transformative impact on its readership? And does it matter if even the writers themselves saw it this way or not? Continue reading