Conservatism in The Owl

The tone of The Owl is an interesting contrast to the modern, radical tone that categorizes the majority of the magazines found in the MJP. The Owl, edited by Robert Graves, only had three issues, two published in 1919 and one published as The Winter Owl in 1923. The Owl had difficulty taking off for multiple reasons, but one of  the main reasons was because of its refusal to take a modernist approach which gave it an anarchronistic label.

      Both the cover and the foreword of the first magazine only help to give it a conservative feel. The cover and many of the illustrations within the magazine remind one of illustrations that would function well in a children's book. They are generally bright and innocent illustrations and contrast the sharp, new art often seen in more modern magazines. The foreword (http://library.brown.edu/cds/repository2/repoman.php?verb=render&id=1174...) establishes that the magazine has no intent of making a political stance or attaching to any movement. Indeed, the magazine issues are mostly filled with poetry that avoids the hot topics of war and modernism and clings to topics of love and nature. Unfortunately, Graves concept was too escapist and conservative and eclectic to last long in the midst of the modern magazine movement. 

Love, Poetry, and Feminism

At first, I planned on looking up the frequency of "love" in Poetry and BLAST, but I couldn't get BLAST to work. My second plan, then, was to look up love in Poetry and The Freewoman. I thought it would be interesting to see how love was discussed in these two magazines with two very different agendas. Originally, I had expected Poetry to mention love quite a bit. This is maybe a little stereotypical of poetry, but I certainly figured that it love would make an appearence frequently in the various selections of poetry. In contrast, I figrued that The Freewoman wouldn't discuss love too often during its discussion of more politically relevant topics.

I was quite surprised by what I found in both magazines. The frequency with which love appeared in the two magazines was quite similar. In Poetry, love really wasn't discussed as much as I was expecting. There was really only one magazine that had a very high useage of the word. Similarly, in The Freewoman, love was discussed an average amount across all the issues, but there was one issue in particular where love was discussed a lot more. What is really interesting is that the frequencies were very similar. In Poetry, the highest frequency was 40/10,000. In The Freewoman, the frequency was 32/10,000. This was much more similar than I would have guessed.

What this showed me is that universal themes really are universal. I know that if I had looked at specific topics between the two magazines, I would have had different results. For instance, any of the topics in The Freewoman's political agenda would much likely not appear too often in Poetry. However, it seems that a universal topic doesn't escape the clutches of a political magazine, but it also doesn't steal the show in a more artistic realm.

Music in The Egoist and The Crisis

Brooke Boutwell and Miranda Dabney

Brooke and I chose the word Music  to look at in The Egoist and The Crisis.  We originally chose BLAST, but had some issues getting into Voyeur with BLAST, so we chose The Crisis to replace it.  

In The Egoist, some of the most frequent words used were life, man, and new.  From this, we can tell that the magaznie's focus was to talk about humanity and life, what happens in the lives of the readers or people like the readers.  The word "music" peaks in volume 5, issue 6, an issue which also references Poetry and The Little Review.  There are 25.75 uses of the word "music".  Among those mentions of music, there is an article about Debussey.  The issues tied for lowest number of "music" mentions, with zero mentions, are volume 1, issue 2; volume 5, issues 8 and 9; and volume 6, issue 4.

This lab helped us to explore more of what it means to close read using Voyeur tools.  Using the graphs and other tools to track words across different magazines helped to link what different issues focused on as well as figure out where certain words were more prevalent to narrow down issues and articles with the specific interest word.  

Voyant as a search tool

While playing with Voyant was fun, I did not find it particularly helpful in reading the Little Review corpus as a whole. Like Hope mentioned, the word cloud is a really nice feature, one that helps the reader get a sense of the overarching topics that pervade the corpus. Beyond that, though, I didn’t feel like the features gave me much insight as to the overall nature of the content of the magazine (although, this could certainly be a problem with the user and not the program).

Though maybe not the best for producing an overarching picture of a massive body of work, Voyant is really good for revealing which issues of the Little Review contain pieces on certain topics. Out of curiosity, I plugged “Ireland” into the word search. This produced two main peaks, one from the June/July 1916 issue, and one in the January 1920 issue. It turns out that the June/July 1916 issue contains an article titled “The Irish Revolutionists” by Irish poet Padraic Colum. In this article, Colum calls attention to the execution of three Irish poets who were also leaders of the Easter Rising. Colum equates their deaths to the death of WWI poet Rupert Brooke. The difference is in the fact that the British executed the Irish poets, while they mourn the loss of the poetry that Brooke would have produced. The January 1920 issue contains Episode XII of Ulysses, the episode that highlights an Irish nationalist in a pub. Unsurprisingly, the word Ireland comes up quite a bit in this issue.

Overall, my experience with Voyant has led me to believe that it is more useful in searching for specific items in a text than in painting an overall picture of the text.

Thoughts on Gephi

While I still don't fully understand the program and probably never will, Gephi was really fun to play around with, and I actually found it easier to understand than some of the websites we've visited. I won't lie, though. At first I thought the placement of the nodes was completely random and had no idea what was going on. It was only when I experimented with coloring the nodes that I realized how they were related to one another. The layout and placement were extremely intricate, but I found that the more you played around with colors and themes, the easier it became to read. Obviously more general nodes like "poetry" were cluttered and highly populated while author's names were less connected. It surprised me that "death" was the most populated overall.

Once you understand how Gephi fuctions and how to best understand the correlation between the nodes, the program is a very helpful and interesting tool. I enjoyed using it.

At the Aquarium

As I was filtering through various additions of The Masses, my eyes were drawn to a poem entitled "The Aquarium" by Max Eastman. It's funny that in the midst of a page of 20 thumbnails, the layout of this particular page caught my attention. The poem is paired with another poem in two identically sized columns at the bottom of the page. The poems are framed by an art deco mural, under the title "LYRICS." The page is quite beautiful.

The themes of the poem have an interesting relationship as well. The other poem is entitled "The Poetry of the Earth." It describes a woman from, as the title suggests, the perspective of the earth (nature). On the other hand, "At the Aquarium" is a man reflecting upon nature (the fish). Those ideas complement each other nicely.

It's really interesting how the entire page can be studied as a single unit and at the same time be studied as the combination of multipe elements. I would never have thought of considering the mural's relationship with the text outside of the concept of bibliographic coding.

The Waste Land Archive

Like Justin, before reading these articles, I had an outdated idea of what exactly an archive was. In Voss and Werner’s words, I had acknowledged the physical site, but ignored the “conceptual space.” Defining the archive this way made me rethink what exactly a literary work was. Voss and Werner quoted Bornstein saying that “literary work exists not in any one manifestation but in an archive that brings all the versions with claims upon our attention put together.” I think this is much easier to see in the digital age because we can do a quick google search and have tons of different editions or versions of a piece at our fingertips.

Specifically in regards to The Waste Land, I liked where Voss and Werner paraphrased Greetham saying, “that the archive proper is comprised of ‘garbage,’ ‘cultural scraps…leftovers…bits of memory.’ ” This made me immediately think of The Waste Land because of all the fragmentation there is. It’s like there’s these little ‘bits of memory’ put together into one seamless piece. We get biblical allusions juxtaposed with more recent allusions, yet it’s still one coherent piece. I also thought of The Waste Land when Voss and Werner say that each archive, as a construct, “reveals some things while concealing others.” As a part of the multimedia group, I found this to be especially true. When The Waste Land is just a printed text, the different voices that emerge are mostly concealed, but when you see a performance of it, or listen to a recording of Eliot reading it himself, those different characters become revealed.

Poetic Database

When one hears the word "archive", the most likely image they will conjure is one of a library or database. An archive is a mausoleum for artifacts otherwise forgotten by the general public - encyclopedia entries, journal entries, and manuscripts that nobody would read unless prompted by research of some kind.

But, when one looks at the nature of the archive from a broader stance, as Werner and Voss do in Poetics of the Archive, it becomes clear that an archive can be nearly anything: a poem, a book; whatever utilizes past works in its creation. An author who works ancient myths into their story is creating an archive. As Michel Foucoult writes in Fantasia of the Library: "... it recovers other books; it hides and displays them and, in a single movement, it causes them to glitter and disappear." Written about Flaubert's The Temptation, this applies to any work which references works from the past. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land is a clear example of a work of art as an archive. In his poem, Eliot deliberately fills the stanzas with fragments of European culture. From Shakespearean tragedies to 19th century German nationalist opera and everything in between, Eliot archives nearly all of European culture up through the first World War. Eliot's The Waste Land, like Flaubert's The Temptation, utilizes past works "... fragmented, displaced, combined, lost, set at an unapproachable distance by dreams, but also brought closer to the imaginary and sparkling realization of desires." (Foucoult 92).

"At times the archive requires us to read its minimum signs with maximum energy." This sentence, from Poetics of the Archive, to my mind matches Eliot's The Waste Land to a tee. An archive as a stand alone work of art encompasses past works, and gives them new meaning within its own. It requires its reader to dig a little deeper, but once the work has been put in they will find a vast resource of art and history, more permanent than the resources found in a library or encyclopedia. The archive as its own piece of poetry houses historical and cultural works and gives them a place in the minds of its readers, ensuring they will be survived long after the original works have disappeared.

The Archive of the Experience

These articles really helped me reshape how I define what an archive is. I admit that I have been carrying around a fairly old-fashioned definition of what makes an archive an archive. I think of this term as referring to a collection of physical objects and artifacts (for example, TU's collection of WWI posters). Honestly, though, I did not even consider a library--a collection of books--to be an archive; I just called it a library. Similarly, I never considered any online database to be an archive; after all, there are no physical objects online. These articles showed me that archives come in many forms, including the form of a singular text, such as The Waste Land.

I think that The Waste Land makes the most sense as an archive when the distinction of narrative voices is understood. While studying the Fiona Shaw performance of the poem, I drew a connection between the performance and a documantary interview. In that regard, I can certainly see the poem as a collection of various accounts of WWI (and many other scenes). Each sene--each moment--in and of itself is a sort of object to be preserved. For example, the pub scene reveals the bleak reality of the women who stayed at home during the war, as well as the challenges they faced. This information is collected and protected in poem itself. The poem could somewhat be considered an archive of moments and experiences; because there are so many present in the poem, it serves as a fairly extensive independent database. This explains how, by reading the poem, one not only enjoys the work but is greatly informed about the psychology of the inter-war period. That mindset was preserved for us.

Themes of an Ironic Postmodernity

I've had to read this particular text several times in my English and Literature career but this has been the first time I've personally been asked to attack the reading myself. 

What struck me most about the poem is the intial big picture stance that Eliot makes at the very beginning. He opens with an all-encompassing thematic map for the reader; like an grand intro that shows the reader what path he's about to embark on.

 April is the cruellest month, breeding
  Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
  Memory and desire, stirring
  Dull roots with spring rain.
  Winter kept us warm, covering
  Earth in forgetful snow, feeding


We open with juxtapositions of our preconceived notions. April, the month of spring and renewal. Yet Eliot proclaims thaht it's the cruelest month, bringing lilacs from the dead revitilizing old memories and desires.  Eliot then describes winter as warm, "covering Earth in a forgetful snow".

Eliot uses the reversal of our cultural connotations of the seasons to bring his metaphor of memories as painful to light. This is a specifically postmodern perspective; the ironic retrospect through which nostalgia is criticized. Eliot illustrates the agony of over-romantisized nostagia and specifically how it's blanketed by 'forgetful snow.' These contradictions also highlight the seemingly paradoxical values that are at the base of our basic existential struggle as humans.