The critic Michael Levenson warned that “A coarsely understood modernism is at once an historical scandal and a contemporary disability”. The Modernist Magazines Project aimed to refine and enhance the record through the production of a scholarly resource and comprehensive critical and cultural history of modernist magazines in the period 1880-1945. So-called ‘little magazines’ were small, independent publishing ventures committed to new and experimental work. Literally hundreds of such magazines flourished in this period, providing an indispensable forum for modernist innovation and debate. They helped sustain small artistic communities, strengthened the resolve of small iconoclastic groups, keen to change the world, and gave many major modernists their first opportunities in print. Many of these magazines existed only for a few issues and then collapsed; but almost all of them contained work of outstanding originality and future significance.
The project aimed to document and analyse the role of both fugitive and more established magazines and to consider their contribution to the construction of modernism in Britain, Europe and North America. It resulted in a 3 volume Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, an Anthology and an online resource, comprising an index of magazines, bibliographical and biographical data, selected contents and web links.
The study of modernism has been revolutionised over the last decade. Although it has long been recognised that ‘little magazines’ made a distinctive contribution to the modern movement, only a few examples have received any direct attention. The Modernist Magazines Project resulted in the most comprehensive critical study so far of this aspect of modernism and will be an essential tool for all researchers and scholars in the field.
The project was directed by Professor Peter Brooker (University of Sussex, now the University of Nottingham) and Professor Andrew Thacker (De Montfort University) and was supported by major funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). More details can be seen on the Modernist Magazines website.