Periodical Studies

What are Periodical Studies?

Broadly defined, Periodical Studies is the examination of periodicals as objects of literary and historical value. It may be placed within a greater rubric of “print history,” the field of study that explores the material and cultural conditions of textual production. Interest in periodicals is being fueled by digitization projects, which are finally making the large (and sometimes unruly) periodical archive accessible to scholars around the world.

Where should I start?

For modernist periodical studies, you should start with this article:

Latham, Sean, and Robert Scholes. “The Rise of Periodical Studies.” PMLA 121.2 (2006): 517-31. Print.

These are two of my favourite books on the subject:

Scholes, Robert, and Clifford Wulfman. Modernism in the Magazines: An Introduction. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. Print.

Brake, Laurel. Print in Transition, 1850-1910: Studies in Media and Book History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. Print.

Why are scholarly digitization projects so important to Periodical Studies?

As Sean Latham and Robert Scholes note in “The Rise of Periodical Studies,” libraries did not always preserve their periodical holdings. It was common archival practice to tear out advertisements and bind individual periodicals into larger books. This process (which was standard practice in North America) has created a “hole in the archive” (520)–that is, it is very difficult for scholars to read literature first published in magazines (like James Joyce’s Ulysses) in its original context. Digitization initiatives like the Modernist Journals Project (among many others) are finding original copies of periodicals in order to produce a better archive.

What digital projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on  two major digital projects. First, I’m helping build (along with the EMiC team) a large digital repository for digitized Canadian texts. As part of this project, I’m digitizing Canada’s first avant-garde periodical, Le Nigog, which was published in Québec in 1918 (it was published in both French and English). Second, I’m designing and building the “Database of Modernist Periodicals,” which I hope will become the largest and most complete directory of modern magazine production. I’m building the repository using the principles of “crowdsourcing” so that scholars around the world can contribute to it while it maintains rigourous bibliographic integrity.

What are some periodical resources are currently available?

Esprit: European Society for Periodical Research (Europe)
Modernist Journals Project
Modernist Magazines Project (UK)
Magazine Modernisms (blog)