In 1892, Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Will Stewart, owners of the People’s Grocery Company, were lynched in Memphis, Tennessee, for, in part, daring to compete with a white-owned grocery store that had previously maintained a monopoly. In her autobiography Crusade for Justice (1970), Ida B. Wells (also known as Wells-Barnett) wrote that this lynching “changed the whole course of my life.”1 It eventually led to a chain of events that would transform Wells into an influential anti-lynching activist who wielded the press as a weapon against racial injustices.
In her pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892), Wells declared, “The press contains unreliable and doctored reports of lynchings, and one of the most necessary things for the race to do is to get these facts before the public. The people must know before they can act and there is no educator to compare with the press.”2 She continued, “The Afro-American papers are the only ones which will print the truth, and they lack means to employ agents and detectives to get at the facts. The race must rally a mighty host to the support of their journals, and thus enable them to do much in the way of investigation.”3 The support of the Black press is, in other words, the responsibility of the race. Here Wells highlighted the fact that the African American press exists in a dialogic relationship with its readers for sociopolitical justice.
This relationship in which the press influences its readers, who, in turn, influence the press, I argue, is a central trait of African American periodicals of the Jim Crow era. An understanding of the work of this dialogic relationship reveals the extent to which authorship and meaning-making is a public interaction rather than solely a private act. Meaning and, specifically, the drive toward sociopolitical justice are generated through the interactions among author, periodical, reader, advertiser, editor, and more; these interactions make up the networks of the Jim Crow period.
In their seminal essay on periodical studies, Sean Latham and Robert Scholes write in PMLA that periodicals “create and occupy typically complex and often unstable positions in sometimes collaborative and sometimes competitive cultural networks.”4 In Jim Crow Networks: African American Periodical Cultures, I examine the networks in which African American periodicals of the first half of the twentieth century were embedded. Through the examination of these networks, I work to fill gaps in our understanding about dialogic relationships between periodicals, between periodicals and literary texts, and between periodicals and readers in American literary studies, African American studies, and the increasingly influential field of periodical studies. Writers like James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, William Faulkner, and Jean Toomer were active in interracial and intraracial periodical networks that shaped their literature and concerns about racial inequality. Examining these networks reveals that moves toward sociopolitical change were negotiated and produced by dialogic relationships within, between, and around periodicals and literary texts during a period of legalized segregation.
Print culture networks, certainly, are not solely a twentieth-century or Jim Crow phenomenon. The Black print culture networks of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the United States, for example, have been an area of focus by scholars such as Eric Gardner and Benjamin Fagan. The volume Early African American Print Culture (2012), edited by Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein, has drawn particular attention to the importance of examining print culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.5 In their introduction, Cohen and Stein note that “the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed the consolidation of what historians have come to know as ‘print culture’ in the United States. Spurred by technological improvements to the printing press, innovations in papermaking and binding, increasing divisions of labor and automation, and the expansion of distribution networks enabled by railroad and steamship, print shops turned out a huge variety of printed goods in unprecedented quantities . . . Printed matter became a part of everyday life, mediating and reshaping the already fluctuating social relations of the early United States.”6 This consolidation of print culture, as Cohen and Stein argue, coincided with and enabled in part the “inauguration of what scholars have identified as an African American literary tradition.”7 Parts of this tradition are examined by Gardner and Fagan in their respective studies on the communities that are formed through periodicals. In examining newspapers such as the Colored American and Freedom’s Journal, Fagan writes, “Membership in a certain race or class, or adherence to a particular revolutionary ideology, could (dis)qualify one as a member of a particular newspaper’s community.”8 While networks are not necessarily communities, communities are certainly networks. These communities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were focused on slavery, its abolition, and its immediate aftermath. What I am arguing here is that dialogic Jim Crow networks are distinguished by their turn from focusing on slavery—although, of course, this is still a significant influence—to a focus on racial violence and resistance in response to the conditions of legalized segregation.
In naming these network relationships as “dialogic,” I highlight them as specifically dynamic interactions that shape one another; these interactions contain elements of contingency as they often lead to unexpected collisions and encounters. The use of “dialogic” in the network context, of course, owes a debt to M. M. Bakhtin’s use of the term in connection with language. The constitutive relationality of the term is integral to networks, and Bakhtinian dialogism itself as a concept is a kind of network. For Bakhtin, “the word is born in a dialogue as a living rejoinder within it; the word is shaped in dialogic interaction with an alien world that is already in the object. A word forms a concept of its own object in a dialogic way.”9 In a basic sense then, language exists within an interactive and dynamic network. Adapting this interplay to periodical studies allows us to see how individual nodes within Jim Crow networks are themselves “shaped in dialogic interaction” and must be discussed in the context of these interactions. The newspapers and magazines of the Jim Crow era, both Black and white, were, I argue, key sites where readers and writers worked toward bottom-up sociopolitical changes, sometimes in addition to and sometimes in opposition to top-down legislative transformations. The very decentralized nature of power in networks is another constitutive characteristic that makes possible the sociopolitical work of questioning the racial and class hierarchies of the Jim Crow era. In other words, the dialogic affordance of networks—the ability of nodes to “speak” back to one another, which is, in fact, one of their essential qualities—provides a counter to vertical hierarchies of power by offering alternatives.
Despite some excellent scholarship on African American periodicals, there is still a marked gap in the literary criticism. While critics like Anne Elizabeth Carroll and Russ Castronovo have focused on highbrow African American periodicals, there has been less attention paid to the lowbrow and middlebrow periodicals that regular African Americans—and elite leaders, thinkers, and artists—read regularly during the Jim Crow period.10 The highbrow little magazines, associated with an intellectually elite audience with interests in art, particularly in relation to the avant-garde, are objects of a great deal of deserved scholarly attention due to the influential aesthetic works and now-canonical authors published in them.11 An obvious example is the Little Review, the cosmopolitan little magazine (with a mostly white audience) that serialized parts of James Joyce’s Ulysses from 1918 to 1920. Definitions of little magazines highlight the relatively small size of their readerships along with their concern with avant-garde literature and art. While I do examine the work of little magazines, including the Little Review, I expand our view of the periodical landscape by emphasizing middlebrow and more popular magazines and newspapers—in other words, the periodicals that the vast majority of people read, such as the Chicago Defender newspaper. My aim is to provide new perspectives on well-known (and lesser known) literary texts and periodicals by examining their original contexts and juxtapositions.
In mapping the ways in which periodicals can be grouped, Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman point out that “the crucial categories required to unpack the concept of little magazine, then, would seem to be duration, circulation, and textual content, to which we might add the amount of advertising (relatively low) and the sort of contributors (usually, though not always, relatively new and unrecognized).”12 They then state that “at the other end of the scale from what have been called little magazines lie what have been called mass magazines.”13 They emphasize that “terms like little and mass magazines are in fact modernist notions, designed to make an invidious division into version of ‘high’ and ‘low,’ . . . and therefore very much in need of deconstruction, if we are to see modernism from outside its own perspectives.”14 In my analysis of the periodical networks that connect magazines and newspapers that fit into elite and non-elite categories, I show their dialogic relationships and demonstrate the work that these periodicals engaged in to position themselves within particular cultural categories, like highbrow or middlebrow. These categories shifted and were used by periodicals and authors to market themselves; as a result, the magazines and newspapers that are seen as belonging to certain categories cannot be discussed in isolation, as they exist within networks of dialogic relationships, connecting categories, and connections between the periodical players, such as the editor, reader, author, and advertiser.
In looking at these expansive periodical networks, I highlight the ways that these categorizations of highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow were used by the periodicals and authors to position themselves within the periodical marketplace; cultural categorizations rest on contested grounds, after all. Even rarer than scholarship that focuses on non-elite periodicals are studies that examine the connections between these different periodicals—high, middle, and low—with intersecting and differing audiences; most critical works isolate a single periodical as an object of study. My goal is to trace the relationships between these periodicals and between the periodicals and elite modernist and Harlem Renaissance writers. This tracing brings to light the way these networks worked to respond to racial injustices, even as they were shaped by market pressures.
In particular, I argue that writers like Johnson, Larsen, Faulkner, and Toomer existed in periodical networks made up of magazines and newspapers like the Half-Century Magazine, the Chicago Defender, Ebony, the Crisis, the Double Dealer, Broom, and more. In focusing on networks, my argument encompasses both the networks internal to the periodical—the intranets—with the relationships between advertisements, editorials, letters to the editor, art, and so forth, as well as the networks within which the periodicals were embedded—the internets—in which a magazine, for example, exists in a dialogic relationship with other magazines, literary culture, and marketing demands. Jim Crow Networks, in other words, helps us understand the dialogic relationships between periodical components, between periodicals, between periodicals and literary texts, and between periodicals and readers.
The metaphor of the network is an emerging influence on literary studies and periodical studies in particular, as it has been in sociology, mathematics, computational studies, biology, and other disciplines.15 Sociologist Manuel Castells is well known for his formulation of the concept of the “network society,” and he has expanded his interest in networks with his discussion of social movements, particularly those such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement that have been fueled by social media.16 In the field of literary studies, Jonathan H. Grossman has discussed transportation and communications networks in analyzing the complexities of Charles Dickens’s plots, while Richard Jean So has examined transpacific networks in the twentieth century, and Patrick Jagoda’s Network Aesthetics has identified networks across multiple media forms, including novels, television series, films, and video games.17 Eric Bulson and Wesley Beal have traced global periodical networks and American networks of literary modernism, respectively.18 In describing networks across multiple disciplines, M. E. J. Newman has defined them as “a general yet powerful means of representing patterns of connections or interactions between the parts of a system,” while Alexander R. Galloway has similarly emphasized networks as “systems of interconnectivity” that “assume a certain level of complexity.”19 Recently, Caroline Levine has observed that networks are forms with “defined patterns of interconnection and exchange that organize social and aesthetic experience.”20
Jim Crow Networks is part of this conversation but, at the same time, it takes a different approach in at least two key ways. First, it emphasizes the networks within the text—specifically, the periodical—along with those external to it, such as the connections to other texts. My argument relies on multiple networks that exist intratextually within a magazine or newspaper and intertextually between periodicals, literary texts, readers, authors, advertisers, editors, and publishers. Due to the affordances of the periodical as a network and those of the network within which the periodical exists, meanings are produced in interactions, exchanges, and juxtapositions. Second, Jim Crow Networks provides an intervention into network studies by focusing on race. Periodical studies scholars often rely on the metaphor of the network to explain the interactions within and between periodicals, yet there has been little study of African American periodicals in relation to other African American periodicals and in relation to white mainstream ones. I call these “Jim Crow networks” not simply because of the temporal scope of this project but because of the shared concerns of the literature and periodicals—even for white writers and white-focused texts—in responding to the pressures of de jure and de facto segregation. These concerns connect these texts and writers into interracial and intraracial networks that were used and tested for the possibilities of transformation in the Jim Crow era.
Talking about networks is a tricky business due to the slipperiness of a concept that is both easily graspable and yet sometimes overly capacious. “Networks” can seem empty and voracious as a concept; they seem to mean nothing because they can be used to describe so much. I offer strategies for reading Jim Crow networks grounded in periodicals and literary texts. The theoretical underpinnings necessary for examining networks are made up of magpie influences, necessarily so. In other words, networks of theoretical concepts are essential for defining and using networks. This network brings together theories about networks (naturally), African American studies, and periodical studies to develop a picture of the workings of Jim Crow networks. In this introduction, I aim to sketch this network of theoretical concepts in order to provide the foundation for discussing Jim Crow networks, even as I recognize the futility of completely mapping this particular network (and, really, any network).
Networks have held and continue to hold a great deal of power in providing an explanatory model for relationships of various kinds. Actor-network theory (ANT) as outlined by Bruno Latour has had a surge of interest within the field of literary studies due to the work of Rita Felski. Latour’s work has illuminated the distributed nature of agency in networks and, as a result, it has provided a deeper understanding of the dialogic interactions between human actors and non-human actors.21 In discussing the possibilities of ANT, as it is commonly called, Felski observes that it “is thus a matter of tracing out the paths by which entities of all kinds—from scallops to subway trains, from springboks to boxsprings—are constituted by their relations”; it is a descriptive approach to relationality rather than an attempt to provide an overarching theory of the workings of those relations.22 Significantly, her reading of Latour emphasizes that actors—also called “actants” to emphasize that they are not necessarily human beings but are rather “any and all phenomena whose existence makes a difference,” do “exist not in themselves but only through their networks of association.”23 In other words, writers, readers, editors, and publishers of a given periodical are not the only actors within the network, but are joined by the advertisements, illustrations, and even paper quality, to name a few. Relationality lends meaning to these actants.
In speaking of the role of politics in these networks of association, Latour points out that “it’s worth noting at this point that ANT has been accused of two symmetric and contradictory sins: the first is that it extends politics everywhere, including the inner sanctum of science and technology; the second is that it is so indifferent to inequalities and power struggles that it offers no critical leverage—being content only to connive with those in power.24 Latour asks the rhetorical question: “So in the end, what is ANT’s political project?”25 In responding to these criticisms in The Limits of Critique, Felski declares, “What is needed, in short, is a politics of relation rather than negation, of mediation rather than co-option, of alliance and assembly rather than alienated critique.”26 She further defines this project: “Politics, in the sense developed by actor-network theory, is no longer a matter of gesturing toward the hidden forces that explain everything; it is the process of tracing the interconnections, attachments, and conflicts among actors and mediators as they come into view.”27 In their respective accounts of their descriptive approaches, Latour and Felski both refrain, for the most part, from providing specifics about the workings of the political in networks. During the Jim Crow era, these networks, tied to periodicals, were constituted and driven by their political orientations. Levine’s interest in hierarchy and networks as two separate forms that can interact is relevant here to my focus on how hierarchies of race, class, and aesthetics intersect with the networks of periodicals and literary texts. Networks affirm these hierarchies, yet also call them into question. In other words, networks offer the possibility of countering hierarchies.
The relationality that is important to Latour’s work is integral to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s discussion of a particular kind of network—the rhizome: “Unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature.”28 In presenting the rhizome as a contrast to the figure of the tree, Deleuze and Guattari emphasize that its points “can be connected to anything other, and must be”; and that “in contrast to centered (even polycentric) systems with hierarchical modes of communication and preestablished paths, the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automaton, defined solely by a circulation of states.”29 The sprawling nonhierarchical connectivity of the rhizome is a key characteristic: “A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, unique alliance. The tree imposes the verb ‘to be,’ but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, ‘and . . . and . . . and . . .’”30 This conjunctive quality is also important to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field, which, as I will discuss in greater detail in chapter one, is itself a network: “In analytic terms, a field may be defined as a network, or a configuration, of objective relations between positions.” The field as a network, for Bourdieu—and unlike for Deleuze and Guattari—can lead to hierarchical positioning.31 A network’s relationship to hierarchical structures is important to my examination of the way networks can both allow for the destabilization of authority, as in the case of Ebony readers’ responses to Faulkner’s essay, and also for the construction of hierarchies, as in the case of the Half-Century’s strategic use of the cultural category of the middlebrow. Ultimately, both the rhizome and the field are kinds of networks, defined by their connectivity and interactivity.
These characteristics of networks—connectivity and interactivity—are what Levine and other scholars who are influenced by design theory have identified as “affordances.” Donald A. Norman, who is credited with popularizing the concept in design theory, defines affordance as “the relationship between a physical object and a person (or for that matter, any interacting agent, whether animal or human, or even machines and robots). An affordance is a relationship between the properties of an object and the capabilities of the agent that determine just how the object could possibly be used.”32 In the revised edition to his volume The Design of Everyday Things, Norman makes a point of emphasizing that affordances are relationships and not properties inherent in the object. The relational nature of affordance is essential to periodical studies because it highlights the interactions between reader and periodical. In speaking of forms, a category that includes networks, Levine points to the usefulness of the concept of affordance, calling it “a term used to describe the potential uses or actions latent in materials and designs.”33 She describes affordances as the “limited range of potentialities” of a form, while Latham in the context of periodical studies describes affordance as the “‘action possibilities’ in an object: the physical, material, and conceptual properties that both make possible and limit what an agent can do with it.”34 Latham compares the affordances of magazines to those of the codex book by stating that books “afford agents very few possibilities for action beyond reading the text in a linear, serial order,” in contrast to magazines with their affordance of the potential for non-linear reading.35
Certainly, books can be approached from a number of different angles and they have their own contingencies in terms of juxtapositions of, for example, what Jerome J. McGann has influentially called the bibliographic codes and the linguistic codes.36 As Leah Price has demonstrated, readers do not necessarily perceive novelistic linearity as a mandate. She observes: “Sheer scale helps define the novel. So do the pace and duration of reading which that scale elicits. But the novel depends just as much on readers’ resistance to those demands. Skipping (or anthologizing) and skimming (or abridging) have never been separable from a genre that cracks under its own weight.”37 Readerly engagement with novels is often fluid and non-linear and, at the same time, there are many novels that play with linearity, especially in the field of modernist literature, but, with these caveats, it is important to emphasize that periodicals overall are meant to be read in a less linear way than are novels presented in book form. (Of course, a novel that has been serialized within the pages of magazine is bound up in the periodical’s own affordance of readerly fluidity.) As Margaret Beetham points out, “It is an unusual reader of any periodical who reads every word from cover to cover let alone in the order in which they are printed. . . . The periodical . . . is a form which openly offers readers the chance to construct their own texts.”38 Periodicals by their very form explicitly—“openly,” as Beetham puts it—afford this non-linear mode of reading and overall fluidity via tables of contents that offer the option to pick and choose what the reader might read and in what order. The Modernist Journals Project, a digital humanities site that provides an archive of magazines from the early twentieth century, even includes hyperlinks in the table of contents to re-create, in part, the non-linear magazine reading experience.39 Periodicals also afford non-linearity through the incorporation of calls to turn to certain pages to read the endings of various articles and insertions of advertisements that often interrupt articles, both visually and narratively.
The concept of affordance is essential to my argument about the workings of the networks of periodicals and literary texts and the mechanisms by which meaning is produced. As Latham has pointed out, another affordance of periodicals is that of emergence:
N. Katherine Hayles concisely defines this idea in My Mother Was a Computer, writing that it “is any behavior or property that cannot be found in either a system’s individual components or their additive properties, but that arises, often unpredictably, from the interaction of a system’s components.” I hope this sounds as tantalizing to you as it does to me since it offers a very useful way to conceptualize magazines as something more than the mere additive sum of their parts. Understanding them as complex systems capable of producing meaning through the unplanned and even unexpected interaction of their components helps us free them from the dominant metaphors of the book. Put another way, the wide affordances of the magazine produce the conditions for emergence—for the creation of interconnected networks of meaning that are not only difficult to map or anticipate, but that elude stabilizing concepts like author, intention, and even textuality.40
One significant ramification of the workings of emergence in periodicals and, more broadly, among networks is that the agency behind meaning-making is dispersed beyond single agents to the overall interactions between the components of the system. The intertwined notions of affordance and emergence are central to my argument about the meanings created by the internal networks of periodicals and also by the networks in which periodicals and literary texts are produced and are embedded. Levine points out that “literary and cultural studies scholars who have been interested in networks have typically focused on one at a time: the slave trade, the print marketplace, the telegraph, global capital.”41 In contrast, she emphasizes the “overlapping of multiple networks.”42
I take Levine’s criticism about the misleading nature of isolated studies of networks seriously; indeed, my argument relies on multiple networks that exist intratextually within a magazine or newspaper and intertextually between magazines, literary texts, readers, authors, advertisers, editors, and publishers. A periodical is both a kind of a network (in which its parts, including the features, advertisements, editorials, letters to the editor, and images, interact and produce the emergence of meanings) and a node within a sprawling network comprised of nodes that may include readers, advertisers, other periodicals, and literary texts (which themselves are nodes in other networks). These overlapping networks can only be mapped partially. In discussing Charles Dickens’s treatment of networks in Bleak House, Levine compellingly argues that the novel gestures toward a universal truth about networks: “We cannot ever apprehend the totality of the networks that organize us.”43
George Bornstein, influenced by McGann’s editorial theory, has argued for a way of reading that “recognize[s] that the literary text consists not only of words (its linguistic code) but also of the semantic features of its material instantiations (its bibliographic code). Such bibliographic codes might include cover design, page layout, or spacing, among other factors.”44 The bibliographic code can also include “broader issues which D. F. McKenzie might call ‘the sociology of texts,’ like publisher, print run, price, or audience.”45 McGann has argued for “the text as a laced network of linguistic and bibliographical codes.”46 In discussing this network of codes in relation to magazines, Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker have usefully coined the phrase “the periodical code,” a subset of the bibliographic code; periodical codes can be “internal to the design of a magazine (paper, typeface, layout, etc.)” and also “constitute its external relations (distribution in a bookshop, support from patrons).”47 Notably, they emphasize that “it is often the relationship between internal and external periodical codes that is most significant.”48 One of the claims of this book overall is that these internal and external periodical codes are part of the internet and intranet of the periodical. Due to the affordances of the periodical as a network and the network within which the periodical exists, meanings are produced in interactions, exchanges, and juxtapositions—through emergence, in other words. As Latham and Scholes have observed, “Periodicals . . . are by their nature collaborative objects, assembled in complex interactions between editors, authors, advertisers, sales agents, and even readers.”49 The nodes in these periodical networks exist in a dialogic relationship that influences their positions.
Latour has wryly declared, “The word network is so ambiguous that we should have abandoned it long ago.”50 In referring to this quotation, Jagoda states, “The word network is thus a keyword of the historical present, but at the same time, given its relentless usage, it increasingly lacks descriptive edge.”51 It is precisely this ambiguity and edgelessness that makes the concept of networks useful in discussing periodical intranets and internets, as it captures the weak connections within and without periodicals that spring from the contingency that marks the periodical’s form. The nodes of a network are linked by connections of varying strengths. When there are fluctuations or shifts in a node, these changes ripple out to the rest of the nodes in the network in varying strengths. In this way, the nodes are like tectonic plates, shifting and being shifted by each other. These nodes are diverse in nature and can be made up of authors, editors, readers, advertisers, and others, as the periodical form is constituted by the multiple actors and actants who shape it.
Any discussion of a periodical must include an acknowledgment of the role of contingency in these networks. Part of the pleasure and overall experience of reading a periodical is in reading the juxtapositions present in periodical intranets—for example, the placement of a cosmetics advertisement next to an editorial extoling Black beauty. However, a periodical—with some exceptions—is not a single-authored text. Periodical juxtapositions can be coincidental or the result of various publishing exigencies, such as the need to fill blank space on the page. Thinking about periodicals as networks and as existing in networks allows us to consider the place of contingency by recognizing the dispersal of agency in these networks. An affordance of networks is this distributed agency. There is no single author who acts as the sole meaning-maker in a periodical. As in the case of novels, the periodical author, reader, and editor construct meaning together, but, unlike novels, periodicals not only offer multiple texts (authored by multiple individuals) that sometimes contradict one another but also specifically encourage “radial reading,” to use McGann’s phrase, over linear reading.52 For McGann, radial reading, which as a concept owes a debt to Barthesian and Foucauldian claims about the death of the author, “involves decoding one or more of the contexts that interpenetrate the scripted and physical text.”53 Texts are radial, not simply linguistic: “To see that books function in a radial field, that they interact with their contexts, carries important consequences for the way we will read them.”54 McGann applies this concept to books in particular, but periodicals explicitly afford radial reading due to the multiple reading contexts that are offered within issues and the juxtapositions within the periodical intranets and internets. An individual reader, who exists within the periodical network, encounters these juxtapositions and develops meanings from them.
This concept of radial reading is useful for periodical studies because it places authorial intention and agency in a subordinate role. Its debts to Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault are clear. Barthes famously announced that “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”55 He asserted that “a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.”56 Similarly, Foucault has asked, “What difference does it make who is speaking?”57 Yet, this is a question that only the privileged can ask with what he calls “the stirring of an indifference.”58 Along the lines of Foucault’s question, Barthes suggests that “a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Yet this destination cannot any longer be personal: the reader is without history, biography, psychology; he is simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constituted.”59 Barthes’s comment that the reader is “simply that someone” erases the central role of identity and inequality from the equation.
While Jim Crow networks, which contain authors and readers, disperse meaning-making from an individual to the juxtapositions and interactions of all the network nodes, they cannot be denuded of the who that is speaking and the “history, biography, psychology” of the someone, the reader. In fact, authors and readers, as seen in the case of letters to the editor, often insisted on the relevance of their autobiographies to their claims. Langston Hughes criticized the possibility of the omitting the “who” of the author in “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926) in his opening anecdote about “one of the most promising of the young Negro poets,” presumably a reference to Countée Cullen.60 This poet, Hughes writes, “said to me once, ‘I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,’ meaning, I believe, ‘I want to write like a white poet’; meaning subconsciously, ‘I would like to be a white poet’; meaning behind that, ‘I would like to be white.’ And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.”61 This “desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American possible” is what Hughes calls the racial mountain for the Negro artist.62 His overall claim here is about the worth of Black lives, particularly those of what he calls “the low-down folks,” for the purposes of artistic representation, but he is also suggesting that the erasure of racial identity is not politically and aesthetically viable for a Black artist.63 To put it another way, the privilege of erasing personal history is not available to African American readers and writers of the Jim Crow period. At the same time, these readers and writers recognize the importance of these histories and often deploy them in their refutation of de jure and de facto segregation.
As Noliwe M. Rooks has noted, the archive of African American periodicals is relatively small and, at times, difficult to access.64 In weaving together a diverse set of archival materials, I map the terrain of Jim Crow periodical networks to reconfigure our perspectives on some well-known periodicals, such as the Chicago Defender and the Crisis, and argue for the importance of lesser-known periodicals, such as the Half-Century. It is important to note that these Jim Crow networks are not solely made up of African American periodicals, readers, and writers; rather, these networks are interracial and defined by a shared concern with the conditions of inequality of the era, although this shared concern was not matched by shared strategies in responding to Jim Crow. Scholes and Wulfman in Modernism in the Magazines (2010), a text that marks the rising interest in periodical studies in the field of twentieth-century literary studies, argue convincingly that modernism was born in the magazines. However, in their field-defining work, Scholes and Wulfman devote very little space to African American periodicals and African Americans in periodicals, even though, as critics like Michael North have noted, white modernist writers often used Blackness to proclaim their modernity.65
In Jim Crow Networks I unearth the overlooked intersections of the Black press to modernist and Harlem Renaissance texts by not merely re-contextualizing literary works within their original publication contexts but by also emphasizing the networks in which they existed. In doing so, the book’s argument expands our knowledge of how periodical and literary texts were shaped in opposition to and in affiliation with one another. I not only focus on the connections between periodicals through their shared writers and concerns but I also emphasize the networks as sites of dynamic interactions that linked writers (who were often readers), readers (who were sometimes writers), editors, and advertisers. At the same time, the content was shaped by the periodicals’ positions relative to one another in the public and counterpublic spheres. Examining the periodical ecology, made up of these networks, creates a clearer picture of how the literature and periodicals interacted with one another; it provides a deeper understanding of the dialogues, debates, and jockeying for position between the literature and the various newspapers and magazines within their Jim Crow networks.
In Southern Horrors, which was written after her friends were lynched and the offices of the newspaper she co-owned, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, were destroyed as a result of her anti-lynching editorial, Wells relied upon excerpts from newspapers to expose the truths about lynching; at the same time, she proposed periodicals as essential tools in African American activism. In arguing that “nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread bare lie that Negro men rape white women,” Wells cited and refuted white-run newspapers like the Daily Commercial and the Evening Scimitar.66 At the same time, she quoted from other white-run newspapers, such as the Cleveland Gazette and the Memphis Ledger, to prove that white women were not being raped by Black men, who were thus being unjustly lynched. By providing an excess of examples containing journalistic details and written in an objective style, Wells forcefully argued against what she called “lynch law.” Toward the end of her pamphlet, Wells offered some solutions—what she defines as “self help”—to the threat of racial violence.67 Along with arguing that African Americans should engage in boycotts, migrate, and carry guns for self-defense, she cited periodicals as a mode of self-help.
Wells’s imbrication in the newspaper culture of the period and her insistence on the power of Black periodicals to combat lynching make her an early theorist of race and periodicals. In her involvement with the Free Speech and, later, the New York Age, the Chicago Inter-Ocean, and other periodicals and her use of the white and Black press in her anti-lynching work, Wells is, I argue, a precursor to later figures central to early-twentieth-century periodical culture; her emphasis on the press’s role in combating racial injustice is a defining trait of the African American periodicals of the Jim Crow period, although each periodical approached the task with differing strategies.
In her discussion of different white-run newspapers, Wells plays the newspapers off one another by using quotations from some newspapers to contradict quotations from other newspapers. This dialogic use of newspapers displays Wells’s understanding of these periodicals as existing within a network. Her deployment of this network is an essential component of what Teresa Zackodnik has called her “pedagogy of American lynching.”68 In inserting herself into this network—a network that, for the most part, did not include someone like her due to her position as a Black woman in the Jim Crow United States—Wells makes the argument for the place of her newspaper, the Free Speech, in it; her Black-owned newspaper speaks to and through these white newspapers to criticize the culture of lynching.
In responding to the lynchings of the early years of the Jim Crow era, Wells turned to periodicals as a vehicle for responding to accounts of Black men being lynched for allegedly assaulting white women; her work is a precursor to W. E. B. Du Bois’s Crisis magazine, the official organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which worked to stop lynching a couple decades later. Throughout her writings, Wells used newspapers to provide authority to her claims while undermining the authority of other newspapers through her analyses of their stories. Relying upon her deep understanding of Jim Crow networks, she wielded periodical citations as weapons, using intertextual references upon references to place a variety of periodicals, white and Black, in conversation with one another. This technique lent support to her claim that lynching was a grave injustice that had very little to do with the publicly stated reasons and everything to do with racial terrorism meant to keep African Americans in their “places.”
Wells opened the preface to Southern Horrors by stating, “The greater part of what is contained in these pages was published in the New York Age June 25, 1892, in explanation of the editorial which the Memphis whites considered sufficiently infamous to justify the destruction of my paper, The Free Speech.”69 Jacqueline Goldsby has noted that this opening establishes the pamphlet “as an autobiographical-eyewitness narrative, but one whose authority proceeds from the writer’s vulnerability to the violence of lynching.”70 At the same time, Wells acknowledged and called attention to the genealogy of her anti-lynching pamphlet by emphasizing the material’s original publication in an influential Black newspaper; she also created a link between her Southern newspaper and that Northern newspaper with its wider reach and influence. The pamphlet then, from its outset, must be read in the context of a periodical network that stretches from the North to the South, emphasizing the national scope of Wells’s anti-lynching campaign. This campaign would go on to have a transatlantic reach, as particularly evident in her second pamphlet, A Red Record (1895), which emerged from her speaking tours in England, Scotland, and Wales. A Red Record relies on “the compilation of statistics touching upon lynching” from the Chicago Tribune newspaper.71 Wells listed in her pamphlet those statistics with names, dates, locations, and the stated offenses that led to the lynchings and then provided more narrative details along with a few images. In using the statistics of a white mainstream periodical alongside her narrative accounts and commentary, Wells bolstered her case against lynch law to her transatlantic audiences.
On May 21, 1892, Wells published the editorial that led to her exile from Memphis and launched her anti-lynching campaign. Her editorial emphatically pushed back against the notion that lynching is justified because it punishes Black men who assault white women. Wells instead argued, through a meticulous analysis of newspaper accounts coupled with an abundance of evidence, that, in many of those cases, there had in fact been a consensual relationship between the Black man and the white woman and, often, the white women had been the instigators of the sexual relationships. In using these accounts, mostly from white newspapers, she emphasized the hypocrisy of the mainstream periodicals by juxtaposing these accounts with their lies about the bestiality of African Americans. Wells, as Zackodnik has argued, condemned the white press’s complicity in lynching through its “active incitement of the mob.”72 In other words, Wells’s actions were twofold: she bolstered her authority through her citations of the white press while simultaneously demolishing the white press’s authority through her strategic work with the periodical network that discusses lynching. She highlighted the structure of this network by incorporating quotations and excerpts from white and Black periodicals. Her juxtapositions teach the reader to see beyond the surface meanings to what is really being said. In effect, her pamphlet teaches the reader how to read periodicals.
Wells also worked to destabilize white authority through her strategic use of question marks in parentheses throughout her writings. For example, in Southern Horrors, she wrote, “So great is Southern hate and prejudice, they legally (?) hung poor little thirteen year old Mildrey Brown at Columbia, S. C., Oct. 7th, on the circumstantial evidence that she poisoned a white infant.”73 Wells strategically places question marks next to certain words to cause the reader to question the truth value of those words. Here, she questions the official account that claims that Mildrey Brown was executed within the bounds of the law; through this move, along with her exposure of the press’s lies, Wells argues for the destabilization of official and mainstream accounts that legitimize extralegal acts of terrorism and instructs her readers to become authorities themselves in reading periodicals. In effect, periodicals create the potential for the dispersion of authority.
Her technique, as mentioned, relies on quotations and, at times, quotations of quotations; these embedded quotations reveal the periodical network that is coalesced around the topic of lynching. For example, she begins chapter one of her pamphlet with two quotations: the first is directly from her 1892 Free Speech editorial, and the second is from the mainstream Memphis press writing about that same Free Speech editorial: “The negroes may as well understand that there is no mercy for the negro rapist and little patience with his defenders. A negro organ printed in this city, in a recent issue publishes the following atrocious paragraph: ‘Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread-bare lie that negro men rape white women.’”74 By presenting her editorial above that of the mainstream press, Wells asked the reader to read the Daily Commercial’s comments about her editorial through her lens. She then continued by quoting from a white editor named J. C. Duke, who in his newspaper, the Herald, stated claims that were similar to those in the Free Speech: “We greatly suspect it is the growing appreciation of white Juliets for colored Romeos.”75 Wells emphasizes that Duke “was forced to leave the city,” just as she had been forced to; in doing so, she places herself in a network that includes the white press.76 Although Wells claims authority for herself by placing the original Free Speech quotation first in the pamphlet, she also shores up this authority by using the white press in opposition to other white-owned periodicals. In another example, she presents excerpts from the Cleveland Gazette to show how William Offett, an African American man, was unjustly imprisoned for raping Mrs. J. S. Underwood, a white minister’s wife. Eventually, Mrs. Underwood confessed that she had had consensual sexual relations with Offett.77 Over and over in her pamphlet Wells presents one piece of evidence after another from the white press proving the existence of “white Juliets” and making a compelling case for the horrors of lynching by demonstrating that charges of assault on white women were simply pretexts to engage in mob violence to terrorize African Americans.
In her discussion of how African Americans must defend themselves from this terrorism, Wells stated that “a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”78 Directly after this advice, Wells insisted on the importance of the Black press exposing the deceptions of the white press to provide “that protection which the law refuses to give.” In other words, rifle and periodical are both weapons of self-defense in a nation where the government has abdicated its own responsibility in defending its people; the rifle is meant to be used to protect the domestic space, while the press protects the race overall. Ultimately, she stated that “nothing is more definitely settled than [that the Afro American] must act for himself.”79 She argued, “The assertion has been substantiated throughout these pages that the press contains unreliable and doctored reports of lynchings, and one of the most necessary things for the race to do is to get these facts before the public. The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”80 Her argument depends on the identification and use of interracial periodical networks in which unreliable press accounts of lynchings are juxtaposed with truthful accounts; this awareness of these juxtapositions allows the reader to understand the enormity of the problem of racial violence and the true reasons behind it.
These late nineteenth-century discussions of the periodical as educator, the periodical as a tool of self-help for the race, and the periodical as embedded within a larger network of periodicals are precursors to early twentieth-century conversations about the role of the press during the Jim Crow period. Wells’s journalistic activism is part of a long line of periodical figures, ranging from those before Wells who were involved with abolitionist newspapers in the antebellum period to those figures after Wells like Robert S. Abbott of the Chicago Defender and Du Bois of the Crisis. In 2020, Wells herself was awarded a posthumous special Pulitzer Prize citation “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.”81 Wells’s activism relies on portraying African Americans as victims of racial violence while also arming them with the tools to fight back, particularly in terms of teaching them how to read newspapers. Many later magazines and newspapers emphasized the aesthetic and social achievements of African Americans and highlighted their artistic productions throughout their pages to counter the dehumanizing narratives in the mainstream press. These strategies are a mix of what Kenneth W. Warren has described as “instrumental”—using these texts to “achieve a social end”—and “indexical”—using artistic creation as evidence of Black humanity.82 These strategies of instrumentality and indexicality are important to the periodicals of the Jim Crow era and reveal yet another dimension to the role of the periodical as educator. During these decades, African American magazines and newspapers relied to varying degrees on these strategies to act in opposition to racial injustices and, in so doing, formed counterpublic spheres.
Michael Warner defines a counterpublic as a public that exists in a subordinate position to a dominant public: “A counterpublic maintains at some level, conscious or not, an awareness of its subordinate status. The cultural horizon against which it marks itself off is not just a general or wider public but a dominant one.”83 African American periodicals of the Jim Crow era always existed with a consciousness of the subordinate status of their readers, writers, and, consequently, the periodicals themselves; in fact, it is safe to say that African Americans founded (and read) these periodicals as an alternative and antidote to the dominant public. Warner continues, “Dominant publics are by definition those that can take their discourse pragmatics and their lifeworlds for granted, misrecognizing the indefinite scope of their expansive address as universality or normalcy. Counterpublics are spaces of circulation in which it is hoped that the poesis of scene making will be transformative, not replicative merely.”84 Wells’s conception of the periodical as educator and mode for self-help, a conception that extends into the twentieth century for her periodical descendants, reveals the transformative potential, hope, and power of the counterpublics of Jim Crow periodical cultures.
Jim Crow Networks argues that these counterpublics were embedded in networks that included the dominant publics of mainstream periodicals. Spanning the years of the Jim Crow era, from the height of the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance to the Brown v. Board of Education era, Jim Crow Networks traces how a diverse set of periodicals and also literary texts respond to racial violence. The interactions between periodical and literature in the Jim Crow networks I examine are varied. James Weldon Johnson’s republication and serialization of his novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man in the Half-Century Magazine, as I discuss in the first chapter, provides insight to the magazine’s self-positioning in cultural categories through the seeming misalignment of a novel about lynching and racial passing with a middlebrow publication venue that focuses on domesticity. Similarly, I explore this question of fit between a work of literature and its magazine publication venues in the fourth chapter through an analysis of the diverse set of periodicals in which Jean Toomer chose to publish the various components that would eventually make up his Harlem Renaissance masterpiece, Cane; this analysis exposes the spatial—regional, national, and global—and temporal networks in which the text should be read, along with the racial, cultural, and aesthetic identities that it explores.
In thinking about these interactions between periodical and literary works, I do not simply focus on literature that is found in periodical contexts. For example, in juxtaposing the Chicago Defender letters to the editor with Nella Larsen’s Quicksand in chapter two, I focus on the shared rhetoric around the visual dynamic of shame in relation to race and class in these texts, rather than arguing for any direct historical links between the two (although, due to the Defender’s popularity and her own biographical connections to Chicago, it would not be a stretch to say that Larsen would likely have read it). This chapter in particular argues that the respective work of periodicals and novels is distinctive but linked; both the letters to the editor and Larsen’s novel share not simply themes but also formal characteristics that argue for the abuses and uses of the affect of shame. The newspaper and the novel, in effect, exist in a media network that in part is held together through a shared concern with affect. By looking at Ebony magazine readers’ responses to Faulkner’s gradualist advice in the days following the Brown v. Board of Education decision, I extend my analysis of the letters to the editor to chapter three, arguing for possibilities of the periodical in affirming or destabilizing authorial authority. Unlike a novel, the magazine allows the readers to speak back to the author, creating a heterogeneous network of author and readers. Taken together, chapters two and three offer an approach to reading letters to the editor, a genre that poses interpretive challenges.
This book’s overall argument is organized around the tactics of activism that these networks afford. What I mean by activism ranges from the radical literary experimentation of Toomer to the more conservative respectability politics of the Half-Century and Defender to the widely reviled gradualist politics of Faulkner; these were all responses to the hierarchies of the Jim Crow era that relied upon and/or were combated by networks grounded in periodicals and literature. These tactics were themselves connected within Jim Crow networks. There are many ways to talk about networks in general, as suggested by my discussions of literary critics, such as Levine and Jagoda, and theorists, such as Latour, Bourdieu, and Deleuze and Guattari; it is a metaphor that causes the proliferation of other metaphors due to its capaciousness and usefulness. However, in Jim Crow Networks, I will highlight networks in terms of cultural hierarchies, affective language, readers, and space and time in order to analyze the workings of the Jim Crow activism and resistance that were at work in periodicals and literary texts. To discuss networks in this way means to reject the tyranny of chronology in tracing out the connections between different nodes that span the years within the period. It also demands chapters that are organized around these tactics with linkages that could be made between chapters in non-linear ways. One of the affordances of a network is to open the way to thinking beyond the linear or hierarchical. The argument of Jim Crow Networks is not driven by linearity or chronology; through an investigation of network affordances, it traces the aesthetic, political, and cultural tactics used in response to Jim Crow racial violence and systems of inequality and the relations between those tactics. In other words, this argument is itself networked and must marshal its forces from a range of sources—theoretical, periodical, and literary. To talk about networks, we must use networks.
Chapter one, titled “Middlebrow Networks: James Weldon Johnson and the Half-Century Magazine,” lays the groundwork for discussing aesthetic positioning between Black periodicals. Using Bourdieu’s notion of the cultural field, I trace the work the Half-Century magazine engaged in to carve out its market position within the networks of African American magazines and newspapers. As a middlebrow magazine concerned with issues of respectability, fashion, and homemaking, it situated its approach to racial politics as being distinctive from that of the powerhouses of the Crisis magazine and the Chicago Defender newspaper by claiming the middle’s value. While much of the fiction is forgettable, Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man was serialized in its pages after its initial 1912 publication but before its Harlem Renaissance republication. The seemingly incongruous appearance of this novel—with its affiliation to Harlem Renaissance networks of activism and political and aesthetic risk-taking—in a middlebrow magazine highlights and complicates this picture of Black networks and cultural categories, and is a fact often overlooked in accounts of the novel’s publication history. Too often African American periodicals are discussed individually and in isolation from one another—or they are discussed only in relation to magazines, with obvious resemblances as seen in the oft-discussed coupling of the Crisis and Opportunity magazines. However, all these periodicals existed in a rich context of different audiences and alliances that were marked by hierarchies of taste and the language of cultural “brows.” In chapter one, I bring to light the work of the Half-Century in positioning itself in the middle of the increasingly crowded marketplace of these networks.
While periodicals jostled one another to strategically position themselves, their readers also spoke to one another through letters to the editor. Chapter two, “Affective Networks: Nella Larsen and the Chicago Defender,” highlights the language of shame in the letters page of the Defender and in Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance novel Quicksand (1928) during the 1920s. This attention to shame reveals the affective network that connects these texts. While the Harlem Renaissance is generally thought of as a period of great racial pride, it also contained hidden narratives of racial shame. However, shame acts as something more than a toxic affect that renders one passive. It was not only an engine in shaping the content of the public discourse about race, but, in the Defender letters-to-the-editor page and Larsen’s modernist novel, its visual logic is used to reject the passivity that often is the result of shame. In this chapter, both novel and letters page share the affordance of containing multiple perspectives, and in this multiplicity lies a potential antidote to the toxicity of shame.
As an examination of the Defender’s letters to the editor demonstrates, periodicals were sites of dialogue, and, in some cases, they allowed for the readers to speak back to authors. For example, while Faulkner’s influence on and intersections with African American writers have been discussed before, his relationship with his Black magazine-reading publics has been overlooked. Although his readership certainly included elite writers, it was also composed of ordinary readers of middlebrow periodicals like Ebony and Life magazines. In chapter three, “Readerly Networks: William Faulkner’s Magazine Publics,” I argue that Ebony magazine’s letters page offer insight into the interactions between the author and his publics, and constructs the networks formed by the readers in relation to and, sometimes, in opposition to the celebrity author. In September 1956, Ebony published Faulkner’s “If I Were a Negro,” an essay that calls for gradualism as a solution to the race problem by repeating the striking phrase “If I were a Negro.” Faulkner’s assumption of authority through the act of imagining himself as Black was not left unchallenged in this post-Brown v. Board of Education moment; in the letters to the editor, the magazine’s readers countered Faulkner’s essay by arguing for the authority that comes through Black lived experience rather than the aesthetic imagination of a white author. Unlike a novel, the magazine affords readers the possibility of speaking to the author and to one another. Ultimately, the letters page works as a site where the author’s authority risks destabilization and the ties between the readers of the magazine are affirmed; at the same time, the letters page also calls to attention the editors’ agency in invisibly shaping the community of letter writers through the page’s advocacy for an implicit editorial platform.
Much of this book focuses on so-called lowbrow and middlebrow periodicals, like Ebony and the Half-Century, as they have been understudied, but highbrow magazines were also part of the Black periodical networks of the time; these networks included not only magazines aimed at Black audiences but also those that were directed at a majority white readership, even at times outside of the United States. Chapter four, “Global Networks: Cane in the Magazines,” traces these relationships through Cane’s publication in a diverse set of magazines, such as Broom, the Double Dealer, the Little Review, and the Crisis. I argue that, in thinking about Cane’s form, we must consider its pre-book publication history in the magazines; the affordances of the magazines highlight the global and temporal contexts in which the book is invested. Cane (1923) is a heterogeneous literary work that lies at the intersection of different aesthetic, political, and social projects and, consequently, the intersection of different reading audiences. Reading Cane through the lens of periodical studies reanimates our understanding of the text and its readership—and of the periodicals themselves. In looking at the roads between Cane in the magazines and Cane as a book, I highlight the potential of periodical studies in illuminating the invisible global and temporal networks that magazines and individual works of literature construct and engage with.
Finally, Jim Crow Networks closes by moving beyond the Jim Crow period to the opening decades of the twenty-first century, with its media networks of Black activism, particularly in the context of the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. The networks of the Jim Crow era extend forward into the twenty-first century; the network affordances of today, despite significant differences, produce a counterpublic that shares a kinship with those found in the magazines and newspapers of the first half of the twentieth century. Throughout these pages, I make the argument that reimagining the Jim Crow period as significantly constituted by a diverse set of networks coalesced around but not limited to periodicals unveils the multiple pathways by which injustices were challenged and tactics in questioning dehumanizing norms and laws were formulated and tested.
1. Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, ed. Alfreda M. Duster (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 47.
2. Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, in Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892–1900, ed. Jacqueline Jones Royster (Boston: Bedford Books, 1997), 70.
4. Sean Latham and Robert Scholes, “The Rise of Periodical Studies,” PMLA 121, no. 2 (2006): 529.
5. See Eric Gardner, Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Benjamin Fagan, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016); and Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein, ed., Early African American Print Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).
6. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein, “Introduction: Early African American Print Culture,” in Early African American Print Culture, 1.
8. Fagan, The Black Newspaper, 7.
9. M. M. Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel,” in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 279.
10. See Anne Elizabeth Carroll, Word, Image, and the New Negro: Representation and Identity in the Harlem Renaissance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 2005; and Russ Castronovo, “Beauty along the Color Line: Lynching, Aesthetics, and the Crisis,” PMLA 121, no. 5 (2006): 1443–59.
11. See, for example, Frederick J. Hoffman, Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich, The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946); and Mark S. Morrisson, The Public Face of Modernism: Little Magazines, Audiences, and Reception 1905–1920 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001).
12. Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman, Modernism in the Magazines: An Introduction (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 59.
13. Ibid., 60.
14. Ibid., 61.
15. In a special issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies titled “Visualizing Periodical Networks,” guest editor J. Stephen Murphy criticizes current critical uses of networks and argues for a specific conception of them in relation to the study of magazines and newspapers: “A network is not just any old group. The term denotes a structure of linked entities, subject to systematic analysis and visualization using a range of computational methodologies. Networks matter in all kinds of environments because they build on and shape relationships that exist between entities, affect the identities of individual nodes, and create effects made possible only as a result of the interrelated structure of the network” (vii). In making this argument, Murphy argues for the necessity of computational models grounded in network analysis software, like Gephi, in examining networks (vii). See J. Stephen Murphy, “Introduction: ‘Visualizing Periodical Networks,’” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 5, no. 1 (2014): iii–xv. While it is true that network analyses grounded in computational models have provided insight into the alliances and interrelated structures of literature and periodicals, it is not true that they are necessary in analyzing networks. Computational models, for the most part, are limited in capturing the bottom-up multiplicity of nodes in the networks I examine; this method cannot, by itself, provide a substantive picture of the readers in particular, or of the deliberate work that these periodicals engaged in to position themselves in relation to each other. In other words, the complexity of the individual nodes of a network is not sufficiently captured through computational approaches alone.
16. Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age (Cambridge: Polity Press), 2012.
17. See Jonathan H. Grossman, Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Richard Jean So, Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016); and Patrick Jagoda, Network Aesthetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).
18. See Eric Bulson, Little Magazine, World Form (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017); and Wesley Beal, Networks of Modernism: Reorganizing American Narrative (Iowa City: Iowa University Press, 2015).
19. See M. E. J. Newman, Networks: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 3; and Alexander R. Galloway, “Networks,” in Critical Terms for Media Studies, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 283.
20. Caroline Levine, Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 113.
21. For an overview of ANT, including its history, see John Law, “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics,” in The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, ed. Bryan S. Turner (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 141–58.
22. Rita Felski, “Latour and Literary Studies,” PMLA 130, no. 3 (2015): 738.
24. Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 251.
25. Ibid., 258.
26. Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 147.
27. Ibid., 171.
28. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 21.
29. Ibid., 7, 21.
30. Ibid., 25.
31. Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc J. D. Wacquant, An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 97.
32. Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded edition (New York: Basic Books, 2013), 11.
33. Levine, Forms, 6.
34. Ibid.; and Sean Latham, “Affordance and Emergence: Magazine as New Media” (paper presented during session What Is a Journal? Towards a Theory of Periodical Studies, Modern Language Association Convention, Boston, MA, January 4, 2013, Special Session 384), 1.
35. Latham, “Affordance and Emergence,” 2.
36. See Jerome J. McGann, The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).
37. Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 5.
38. Margaret Beetham, “Towards a Theory of the Periodical as a Publishing Genre,” in Investigating Victorian Journalism, ed. Laurel Brake, Aled Jones, and Lionel Madden (London: MacMillan, 1990), 26.
39. See the Modernist Journals Project (searchable database), Brown and Tulsa Universities, ongoing, www.modjourn.org.
40. Latham, “Affordance and Emergence,” 3.
41. Levine, Forms, 114.
42. Ibid., 115.
43. Ibid., 129.
44. George Bornstein, Material Modernism: The Politics of the Page (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 6.
45. Ibid., 7.
46. McGann, Textual Condition, 13.
47. Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker, “General Introduction,” in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Volume I, Britain and Ireland 1880–1955, ed. Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 6.
49. Latham and Scholes, “Rise of Periodical Studies,” 529.
50. Latour, Reassembling the Social, 129.
51. Jagoda, Network Aesthetics, 4.
52. McGann, Textual Condition, 116.
53. Ibid., 119.
54. Ibid., 126.
55. Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” in Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, ed. David Lodge (London: Longman, 1988), 172.
56. Ibid., 171.
57. Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?,” in Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, ed. David Lodge (London: Longman, 1988), 210.
59. Barthes, “Death of the Author,” 171.
60. Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” in African American Literary Theory: A Reader, ed. Winston Napier (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 27.
63. Ibid., 28.
64. Noliwe M. Rooks, Ladies’ Pages: African American Women’s Magazines and the Culture that Made Them (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004), 3.
65. Michael North argues that “becoming modern by acting black,” often through a “pattern of rebellion through racial ventriloquism,” was an essential thread in works by modernist writers (8, 9): “The new voice that American culture acquired in the 1920s, the decade of jazz, stage musicals, talking pictures, and aesthetic modernism, was very largely a black one” (7). Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
66. Wells, Southern Horrors, 52.
67. Ibid., 69.
68. Teresa Zackodnik, Press, Platform, Pulpit: Black Feminist Publics in the Era of Reform (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2011), 132.
69. Wells, Southern Horrors, 50.
70. Jacqueline Goldsby, A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 73–74.
71. Ida B. Wells, A Red Record, in Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892–1900, ed. Jacqueline Jones Royster (Boston: Bedford Books, 1997), 82.
72. Zackodnik, Press, Platform, Pulpit, 153.
73. Wells, Southern Horrors, 71.
74. Ibid., 52.
75. Ibid., 53.
77. Ibid., 54.
78. Ibid., 70.
79. Ibid., 72.
80. Ibid., 70.
82. Kenneth W. Warren, What Was African American Literature? (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 10–11.
83. Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 119.
84. Ibid., 122.