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Some features that distinguish the MJP archive

The aim of the new teaching and research pages is to help you get the most out of the MJP archive. We thought we should begin, then, by pointing out some of the features we think distinguish the MJP as an important resource.

1. The MJP recovers the original print context of modernism. Though most modernist texts first appeared in magazines, we mostly know this literature through its reappearance in later publications—like collections of an author’s works or anthologies. By returning these works to their earliest form of publication, the MJP recovers the original print context of modernism, which has numerous consequences.

2. The MJP affords new views (and versions) of old material. This recontextualizing of modernism has the effect of defamiliarizing the modernist canon, while giving readers today some sense of how modernist works were experienced by their first readers: we can now read the bibliographical codes that inform these works’ first appearance in print, and we can readily locate modernist authors and their works in the community of authors that published in the same magazines. And because the initial magazine version of a text usually differs (in both large and small ways) from its later, well-known version, the MJP journals can also enhance our close reading of modernist texts while calling attention to their bibliographical history.

3. The MJP materials also support a broad understanding of the modernist period. By recovering the original print context of modernist works, the MJP archives also put us in touch with various other contexts—commercial, social, political, historical—that informed these early journals and the modernist writing in them. This helps correct the mistaken idea (encouraged, perhaps, by anthologies and book publication) that modernist literature is somehow timeless; instead, readers of MJP texts are well-positioned to relate modernist literature to historical events of the period (addressed in those same journals) and to detect in it common values and assumptions of the day. The likely result is a broader and deeper appreciation of modern culture—and of the relation between art and society early in the 20th century.

4. The MJP facilitates the discovery of "new" materials about modern culture. Of course, the MJP not only affords us new views of established modernist literature—it also gives us access to a wealth of primary source material about early twentieth-century culture (much of it not read in years) that’s fixed in these original periodicals. This material, undigested and unfiltered, may include overlooked works by established writers, potentially valuable works by forgotten writers, and advertisements that resonate with literary themes, as well as articles addressing innumerable topics and events important to readers a hundred years ago. Scholars of modernism thus have at their disposal an abundance of historical documents they can use to test old arguments, complicate established ideas, and develop new lines of investigation.

5. The MJP helps us recover modernism's lost dialogues. The periodical nature of journals represents another benefit of the MJP archive: its magazines allow us to witness modernism in action, and to trace out the broader temporal context in which this literature—its ideas, values, and trends—unfolded over time. Rather than understand modernism as a set of fixed values, scholars now can recover the evolving contest of views and ideas from which these values emerged: they may follow the debates and controversies that are recorded, from week to week, in the correspondence section of individual journals; they may also chart, across several volumes or years of a journal, the emergence (and disappearance) of different strains of modern culture.

6. The MJP allows us to navigate modern culture as a network of digital texts. By bringing together, in a single searchable database, the work of countless figures and texts that were published in multiple English-language journals, the MPJ archive not only allows synchronic and diachronic investigations of modern culture but enables us as well to conduct searches that range across its vast network of digitized texts.

Next: Challenges posed by the MJP archive—and some solutions