The next session of the Modernist Magazines Research Seminar will take place at 6pm on Tuesday 27 January, in room G35 (ground floor) of Senate House, London.
Research students Jennifer Cole (Oxford) and Sophie Oliver (Royal Holloway) will jointly lead the session, and will be speaking about The Edison Monthly and Charm magazines respectively. Please see below for further details.
With best wishes,
Charles Dawkins (University of Oxford)
Aimee Gasston (Birkbeck, University of London)
Chris Mourant (King’s College London)
Natasha Periyan (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Magazine Mimicry and The Edison Monthly – Jennifer Cole (University of Oxford)
As the field of periodical studies continues to develop, the question of how to meaningfully characterize and categorize magazines remains problematic. Because magazines have to compete for readers within the market place, there are conflicting pressures toward uniqueness, but also toward imitation of existing successful forms. Mimicry in the world of periodicals can serve a similar function to mimicry in nature by allowing one magazine to pass as something completely different.
In January of 1914, a magazine entitled The Edison Monthly ran an ad in Poetry soliciting for ‘electrical verse’, offering to pay ‘one dollar a seven word line’ for ‘serious verse’. This unusual ad led me to research The Edison Monthly, which turned out to be a monthly twenty-page (or more) advertisement for the New York Edison Company attempting to masquerade as a high quality generalist magazine. Although frustratingly little information about the readership of the magazine is available, the magazine’s disguise must have been somewhat successful according to its publishers’ definition because it continued to be published with illustrations on good quality paper from 1908 until 1928. In this talk, I will draw on Brooker and Thacker’s concept of ‘periodical codes’ to show how imitation of the codes of one type of periodical by another blurs the lines between news, science, art and advertising. Comparing the visual, material, and structural characteristics of The Edison Monthly with other, more respected magazines forces us to question our assumptions about the relationship between form and content in periodicals more generally.
Jennifer Cole is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford. She is a founding member of the editorial committee for the graduate journal Oxford Research in English. Her research interests include periodical studies and the influence of the life sciences on the development of American modernism.
Make It New Jersey! Modernism à la mode in Newark’s Charm Magazine – Sophie Oliver (Royal Holloway)
The little-known magazine Charm was published by the Newark department store Bamberger’s between 1924 and 1932. As a declared ‘home interest’ journal aimed predominantly at the women who shopped in the store, Charm focused on fashion, interiors and domestic management. In its appeal to the modern woman, whose progressive tastes it answered and shaped, the magazine also favoured political content and cultivated a general air of cosmopolitan modernity – including regular contributions from modernist writers and artists, and critics of modern culture, many of whom were based or had lived in Europe. Yet while this modern outlook assumed France – and specifically Paris – as its benchmark, Charm also promoted a confident localism, a sense of pride in New Jersey and its qualities.
How do these disparate editorial priorities work together? How do they position Charm‘s modernist content? In this paper I will explore the series of satirical articles about expatriate life that Djuna Barnes wrote for the magazine in the mid-1920s in light of these questions. I use Charm‘s fashion coverage as a frame through which to read Barnes’s pieces, whose ambiguous voice itself displays a complex blend of cosmopolitan and local allegiances. This discussion will propose the relevance of fashion as a methodological tool for the modernist critic, not just a thematic concern for the modernist writer. It will also address the ways in which mainstream magazines such as Charm fashioned the modernism that appeared in their pages.
Sophie Oliver is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she is writing a thesis about female modernists, fashion and transatlantic modernity. Her first article, on Djuna Barnes and fashion in the 1910s, was published by Literature Compass in 2014.