Visualizing The Little Review

Using the Voyeur corpus to close read The Little Review was a great way to narrow down topics and find the issues that discussed specific key words and topics. As for close reading, the Voyeur tools help to narrow down what you're looking at.  Using the corpus to modify the key words shows you the issues of the magazine that are relevent, to which you can go into the archive and find the articles that most relate to what you're looking for.  I also enjoyed typing in words that were in opposition to each other, such as Democrat and Republican, and going back into the archive to see what kinds of articles were in the issues that had a high number of each of the categories, as well as seeing the timeline of when those words were more prevalent.  Democrat and Republican were both more prevalent in the issues leading up to elections, and the two words were used in different numbers during the war vs before the war. 

One of the interesting things was looking at the graph of all the issues, seeing what words were more prevalent in what issues of the magazine.  For instance, the word "life" was super prevalent in volume one and was a word that the entire magazine was supposed to revolve around, yet the use of the word "life" dropped off after the first few issues.  I also used the word search to search for more fun words, such as ketchup, mustard and mayo, princess, puppy, etc.  For the most part, my fun words had very little roles in The Little Review.


Alberto Piazza's "Afterword"

Reading Alberto Piazza's "Afterword," I have to admit my main reaction was bewilderment at his use of scientific language, and so my engagement with the piece was not especially deep. I did wonder at times if perhaps he was taking his approach of applying biological systems a little too far, and perhaps forcing literature into this system in a way that changed the shape of his interpretation in an unhelpful way, but for the most part I thought he did raise some interesting issues. His point on "migration," for instance, on translations into other languages, and how this may "alter the reception and success of a literary genre in the country where it is translated," something that didn't seem to come up in Moretti's book (104). Perhaps the most appealing idea to me, though, are his thoughts on "cultural selection--the survival or extinction of one form rather than another," which appears in Moretti's chapter on "Trees," in comparison with natural selection, "so ambiguous and unpredictable a situation" that it is "better to assume that natural selection has no effect, and then to confirm or falsify this hypothesis statistically" (112). This distinction seems a critical one, and adds something to our discussions of Moretti's trees.

Serials and variables

I found Dr. Latham’s paper to directly answer a question discussed in 21st century American literature last week. We are reading a novel about two comic book illustrators (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), and someone mentioned that the book was like reading a comic book. While the book suggests comic book aspects, it does not offer the same experience a comic book does. After reading this article though, I’ve decided the most notable difference is that one is available as part of a series, and the other comes as a single unit, much like the magazines. Dr. Latham writes, “Put bluntly: despite masquerading in a codex form, magazines are not books” (3) and so the opposite, that books are not magazines is an obvious statement. I think the same thing applies to things that are offered as smaller parts of series: comic books, television shows, newspapers, etc. You don’t need to read every issue of Scribner’s to understand one issue, (though being familiar with all issues will offer a more informed perspective), and it’s not necessary to read the first Batman comic ever to get his story. Essentially, reading a magazine is an undecipherable equation with constantly shifting variables and exponents of answers. Novels and films don’t allow that personal choice (yet) because there is one set path to follow.

This term of emergence explains that well, how it “provides a powerful way of thinking about how all those textons that we can mark and measure in a text manage to produce something more than the sum of their parts” (15). Karen’s presentation last week is relevant to this, as she noted the editorial decisions made in differing magazines with their different editors and values for a singular episode of Ulysses. It is important of course that individual experiences are factored in when we discuss “how” to read a magazine. These nuances are as subtle as the magazine experience in itself; it is affected by several people (writers, editors, ads) and put together in a single work to be interpreted by many different people.

I also think this idea of things working together in emergence works for the Moretti graphs centered around David Foster Wallace, Toni Morrison, and Johnathan Franzen. Moretti compiles maps that show books Amazon recommends buying when a certain work is selected from one of these authors, creating miniature codexes on these internet pages. Like the magazines, these suggested books work together to create a message that has multiple, individual-driven interpretations. The difference with the Amazon page is that it is not carefully composed by editors and authors, but by computer algorithms and multiple and varied Amazon users.