Trying to Explain Why Archives Make The Choices They Do

With the general question of if an archive must explain themselves and the choices they make, the largest objection I could think of would be time. Digitizing and/or cataloging items already takes quite a bit of time. Add in having to explain why you made the choice you did, and you're now spending even more time. And what explanation is long enough? Or too short?

 

I think a potential solution to this problem is also a potential side step. By linking together texts/objects with metadata tags, you are showing a general theme through specific items that can span the entire archive (as well as helping with search and user access). Perhaps you do not have to excuse your choice as much as you have to prove that said choice has a place in the archive. Maybe that's enough.

That alone is a big ask, as it can be rather subjective as to what terms to use as a metadata tag for which journal. I have decided to explore using the text itself, and using major terms found in the text itself as potential metadata tags. That can take a bit of time, so you to automate it.

To illustrate this, I have used Voyant Tools to automatically read the PDF copies of Blast issue 1, Camera Work number 5, and The Dome, vol. 1 no. 5. By doing so I was able to gather a word map which I have provided below:

The "TermsBerry" that Voyant provides is also useful in this regard, but Voyant does not like making an image of it that I can link here, apparently.

As you can see, there are plenty of words that we can look at to see about using as metadata tags. However, there are also spelling errors, and some more useless words like "good" or "new." We discussed methods in class that we can use to clean up XML files, and I feel as if that is a good way to avoid the spelling errors. This may work rather well if I were to expand the scope even further, and include say all of the MJP's offerings. Then we can get search tags that appear in (at least) a majority of the magazines, and show a clear link between the offerings. 

3 Journals

So for this post, I went and had a look at some issues of The Crisis and The Masses, as well as the two issues of Blast (which is kind of cheating but they have been on my mind recently). For The Crisis, I looked at the first and last issues, in addition to vol 9 issue 1, to see the amounts of change in policy and stance on issues across the length of the war. I did the same with The Masses, looking at the first and last issues, and then Vol. 6 No. 6.

One of the most essential aspects to each of these periodicals is the political aspects running through them. The Crisis focusing on black civil rights and uplift, both before, during, and after the war, The Masses with its socialist leanings, and Blast's fairly obvious facistic leanings. All of these varying political perspectives coexist within the archive of the Modernist Journals Project, which I find fascinating. The description of The Masses acknowledges it's "radical politics," and does The Crisis, but the description for Blast doen not outright mention the political ideals the journal presents. Do we, as archivists, have a responsibility to contextualize the material we choose to preserve, especially when some of the materials push violent and potentially dangerous ideologies (I am aware that some people would leverage the same political questions towards The Masses that I am at Blast)? Because the discussion of archival and preservations can center around similar discussions of ethical consumption that we were having at the end of last week, with regards to the #MeToo era. Is it even up to the archivists to decide if anything is too "problematic" to preserve?

Three magazines

Rhythm

The magazine Rhythm shows some poems which contain various literary works that shows diverse imageries, sounds and twist of traditional convention. For example, the poem ‘the sea child’ describes sea as a child who goes back toward her mother earth by describing various imageries. She is described as ‘fashioned her body of coral and foam, combed a wave in her hair’s warm smother, and drove her away from home.’’ From this scene, we can find that natural object of sea is described as a woman who has fashioned with her with various objects and this makes us to imagine the movement of sea like a person who actually go between the earth and the sea. This makes us imagine the scenery of sea which ceaselessly move back and forth. A story, ‘the holy man’ disrupts the tradition of convention of religion. The is an old man who knows anything about God, but when Bishop looks him he thinks that he is really like Jesus, because he always tries to help others. Even Bishop sees the old man walks on the water to visit him. From this story, we can find that the story distorts the traditional authority of bible. A poem ‘smiles’ uses imageries, but in this case, it also distorts the tradition of using imagery of white and black. The speaker says that a black girl ‘as black as winter’s night’, but when she smiles, “there came a flood of light; it was the Milky Way”. From this speaker finds bright thing from the black girl. On the other hand, a maiden now fair as a summer’s day is described as black when she smiles by comparing her smile to the milky way of black night. Whether the woman is black or white, the speaker describes them as Milky Way, but in a different way. This seems to contrast traditional convention of division between black and white.  There are also many abstract images and this experimental way of depicting the images seems interesting because this could be only found through Modernist digital archive.

 

Seven arts

In this journal, we can find various issues in politics around the world and USA, and its relation of literature. ‘The Thimble’ written by D. H. Lawrence shows a story of a couple who have trouble of making their lives. When the woman finds out treasure-trove, a thimble accidentally, she feels terrified, and she even imagines that she was laying under the ground. She says that she feels like helpless baby in her situation, but the man says that there is a hope of becoming growth. This story seems to suggest after war mentality in people, and their possibility of resurrection. This idea can be found in the lines saying. “Are we dead now?”, “Yes we are”, “Then we must be born again” John Dewey’s ‘In a time of national hesitation’ explains the situation of USA confronting world war, and suggests the righteous way for the nation to do their work. He explains that the nation is in a paused in making decision, because they lack national mind. He explains that their nation should fight for defending democracy for other nations. He also says that as their nation is a new body and a new sprit in the world, they should finish their hesitation.

Masses

As a socialist journal, this journal seems to focus more on lives of people who are in a trouble, and instead of adopting the aesthetics of modernist, just sticks to the idea of realism. In a journal of June 1915, we can find an image of a man and woman. The man is sitting on the floor, putting one leg made of prosthetic leg and he is begging for something to people. Besides him, we can find a woman who is dressed well, and putting one of her leg with shoes which seems luxurious. Below the picture, there is a line saying ‘putting the best foot forward.’ By contrasting two images of man and woman who have different foot, the image seems to depict the problem of the poor and the rich, and there is no artistic experiment in the painting, so we can find that the image tries to depict the problem of society, instead of just sticking to the artistic experiment. In an article, “knowledge and revolution”, we can also find that the article tries to explain the problem of human value in the prison by depicting how prisoners are not treated well. Such description of the problem of prisoners seem to follow the style of reportage which depicts situation with realistic perspective.  

3 Journals and 3 Entries Per

Alright, so I'm getting my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday. Let's celebrate by looking at a few issues of Rhythm, Camera Work, and The Dome. Seeing as how they make extensive use of images, I want to focus on those for the most part.

 

Rhythym only had 14 issues published, so I looked at issues 1, 7, and 14, in an effort to gain a general understanding of Rhythm's life as a publication. Volume 1, Number 1 is very worried about detail and how it is used. In particular to the drawings, this issue is very concerned about being able to give adequate detail to the whole image. "Study" by Othon Friesz is our first full page image, and you can see that the character's worker-qualities (its strength, muscle mass, rounded shoulders, broad feet and hands) are emphasized over its face. In fact, it looks as though the figure could be wearing a mask, which highlights the replaceability of the worker-classes. The next image we have is by Picasso, in which we get two women whose faces are very detailed, but their clothing is barely outlined. Issue 7 seems to be following the same general focus, going as far as Picasso's piece focusing only on a wounded soldier's hands and his bandaged head. The rest of his body is a thin, ragged outline. Issue 14 is no different, though there are quite a bit more nude drawings. The nudity is not as pronounced as the woman's face, so while the women are are an edenic landscape, the focus is on their beauty and not their body.

 

In Camera Work, I went for the same broad sampling. They are largely worried with establishing photography as an artform in itself, and as such give quite a bit of space to people calling it such. The pictures they include are rather haunting by today's standards (the black and white images help with that), but I'd like to have seen more. For a journal that is called Camera Work, there is decidedly little of it on display. The question here is if the journal does enough to establish photography as an art form.

 

In The Dome, I think the biggest difference is that they don't offer any "apology" or "introduction" section to their journal. It is entirely focused on the art, and offers no defense because there isn't anything to defend. The question is, then, if that is enough. Can you simply present a journal of nothing but your era's art and stand aside, because your job's done now? Is any period's art good enough to do that? Or is The Dome being a little presumptuous?

 

I think a larger question these journals can drag to the surface about archives is if an archive has to defend or describe their rationale for allowing items into their collection. The Dome certainly does not think an explanation is necessary, but Camera Work and Rhythm and many other journals that I've interacted with do. Do archives have to answer to anyone? Archives are doing all of the work in collating and protecting these pieces, so why do they have to explain why they chose one thing over another?

 

 

Magazines & Archives

This week, I checked out The Dilettante (one of the "ephemeral bibelots" of the 1890s), the socialist magazine The Masses (my favorite magazine so far - it's delightful), and the Irish magazine Dana. I was particularly interested in finding magazines that represented either minority or burgeoning political factions - The Masses and Dana definitely satisfied those criteria. I chose the Spokane-based Dilettante for a similar reason, in that, as a magazine from "backwards America" (released just about 10 years after Washington achieved statehood), it also corresponds to a kind of burgeoning political identity (albeit in a less immediate way than The Masses or Dana). With each magazine, I chose the first and last issues as well as an issue from the middle in order to map, in a way, the formal evolution of the magazines. 

The questions that I was considering as I read these texts were (unsurprisingly) political in nature. I was drawn to the fact that, with The Masses and Dana at least, these magazines were less of a business venture and more of an attempt to form a political coalition. So, for my question, I would like to consider the relationship between the political potential of these magazines as social networks. Can we see a correlation between these magazines and the social media that we know today? I'd also like to consider, more broadly, how the political potential of these magazines changes over time.  What happens when The Masses, for example, as a socialist magazine can only be accessed at an archive based at an institution such as a university? Is there a loss of political potential? Is that potential reclaimed when the text transitions from a physical archive to a digital archive? 

Journals and the Archive

The three journals I chose to peruse this week include "McClure's Magazine", "The New Freewoman", and "The Owl". Different things drew me to each of these titles, from the title, the description given by the MJP, to even the cover art, but there were a few similar questions I had while perusing them.

For The New Freewoman I looked at volume 1 no. 1, 7, and 13, for McClure's Magazine I looked at volumes 14.4, 17.5, and 36.2, and for The Owl I looked at volume 1 no. 1, 2, and 3, since apparently these 3 were all that was ever published.

I was curious about "The New Freewoman" due to our discussion last week of it in-between status, bookended on either side by "The Freewoman" and "The Egoist. I was curious what shifts I might notice in the journals mere 6 month lifespan. While perusing these volumes I noticed concerns with the suffrage movement, as the title might suggest, but beyond this also travel and responses to beauty (in Rebecca West's "Trees of Gold", particularly), anthropology, philosophy, the necessity of caring for the environment (no. 7), and that some writers (such as that same West) appear on multiple occasions. All three volumes also include an abundance or mythical and literary references, as well as an apparent fascination with the Greeks. IT was from no. 7 to 13 that I noticed the most striking difference, with no. 13 beginning with a violent and enigmatic story, upon the end of which the change of names is announced dramatically: "It is proposed that with our issue of January 1st, 1914, the title of The New Freewoman be changed to The Egoist." The reason for this seems rather intuitive based upon the content of all three volumes: the writers therein are concerned with a multitude of areas that are at once connected to and also perhaps autonomous of the previously held titles.

McClure's Magazine I chose for the illustrations: From the Renaissance cover art of volume 14.4 to the sloping landscape of volume 17.5, I was sold, and the colored illustrations throughout were quite interesting.  Looking at the content itself, I learned that we used to have a beef boulion-esque product called "Armour's", complete with an accompanying knight jousting.  Additionally, the word that kept coming to mind when considering this stories and advertisements within the journal was "discovery". Based upon the content, the writers and readers of McClure's seem to have been quite interested in travel narratives, depictions of "exotic" animals, and adventure stories in general.

As for the three volumes present of The Owl, I found here, as the journals introductory material asserts, a rather conservative and straightforward collection of seemingly good writing of the time in a less experimental vein. This was rather refreshing for me, honestly, since I have been rather used to thinking that everything published during this period was radical in some way, shape, or form.  In fact, The Owl's refusing to take any one stance or movement, in some ways, seems to lend it to inclusivity, for since "It must be understood that "The Owl" has no politics, leads no new movement and is not even the organ of any particular generation", this potentially welcomes a variety of perspectives instead of catering only to those of a certain age or agends, and thus "sixty-seven years separate the oldest and youngest contributors." (The little owl drawings are also just super cute, honestly.)

About these particular journals I kept asking myself, what was the intent of the editors and contributors? What were those things they felt so passionately about as to create in such a way, and why this way, in particular?

One question about the archive in general that these journals prompted me to consider is whether perhaps one purpose of the archive is simply to preserve the variety of any given age? I am used to thinking that archives rather boil a time-period down to it's most common denominator, but here found such differences of perspective circulating as to reorient my preconceptions remarkably.

3 New Words

It took me a minute to figure out how to post the blog.

In the Crisis (colored, negro, education) issue, there are two words that jump out at the audience: colored and negro. The word “colored” is used 106 times while “negro” is used 32 and “negroes” is used 30; as this is just a pluralization, I’ve decided to count them together, meaning that it is the second most frequently used word in the text, totaling 62 usages. This publication is put forth by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, so the prominent usage of these words make sense as the publication targets people of color. There is also an emphasis on education and achievement, which is reflective of the “advancement” that the publication wishes to make possible; this emphasis is not only found in lower levels of education (see St. Mary’s School advertisement) but also in a buzz word like “co-educational” as found in the higher ed advertisement for Morris Brown University. The magazine also captures important milestones of civil rights, including “Federal Anti-Lynching Bill Introduced in Congress” and the status of the “colored” soldier talks (76).

Like Crisis, the Egoist (symbol, organic, time)also contains key words that reflects its mission to give the most relevant, early intellectual advancements. In this issues, these are most notably “symbol” and “organic,” which are both used 27 times. The publication is known for publishing early modernist poetry and fiction, but also includes philosophy and other important intellectual pieces, including a tribute to a famous musician. The largest portion of this issue is dedicated to Marsden’s “Our Philosophy of the ‘Real,’” which discusses “symbol-making powers” (77). Marsden’s account reads like early psychoanalysis. His other most frequently used term is “organic,” which is also central to Marsden’s argument as he discusses the term in regards to a movement, time, and culture (79-84). In The Little Review (love, new, like), another literary magazine geared toward readers who seek intellectualism, one of the most frequently used words is “like.” While most readers would miss such a word, in a magazine that publishes literary pieces, “like” makes a lot of sense as it is used to indicate enjoyment, compare, and frequently employed in the literary device of simile. Consistently, throughout the magazine, like is used in simile. For example, in Kohen’s “Angiora,” the word is used to compare the narrator’s hands to “the black plague eating the wheat” (31) and in a different story altogether, Barne’s “Finale,” the word is used for a different purpose, to emphasize “those who like the round, the complete, the final” (29). The versatility of this word in the English language and in literature is revealed consistently throughout this magazine issue as nearly every author uses it once. However, it is a word that most would miss (I would have missed it had I not been using a word mapping strategy).

Three Words and Search Biases

This blog post ended up being more difficult than I was expecting it to be, which I will speak to in a moment. These are the words I came up with for each issue:

The Crisis: War, School, Fight

The Egoist: Power, Creative, Experience

The Little Review: Love, New, Song

The Crisis was by far the easiest one to find words for, due to my previous experience with this issue, which resulted in some bias in my word search. Knowing this was published close to the end of WWI, it's obvious that the whole issue is centered around the war effort and the fight over in Europe. However, the advertisements in the issue are focused on the reincorporation of soldiers on the homefront, fighting for civil rights and education for veterans.

Meanwhile, The Egoist and The Little Review are more focused on the artistic explorations of modernism, as opposed to the explicit social concerns in The Crisis. The pieces in The Little Review seem to be focused on the content of the art, while The Egoist, emphasized by the lengthy editorial by Dora Marsden questioning the "real," is concerned with the more philisophical elements of modernism, and the creative experinces the movement allows for.

However, something I realized doing this excercise was the amount of influence my previous biases had on the words I looked for. As I mentioned in my brief paragraph on The Crisis, my working knowledge of the context and paratext of the issue impacted how I looked for terms, on top of the generally exhausted mindset I was in while hunting for terms. So my distant reading of this issue was obviously greatly affected by my biases, which is something we should keep in minds while doing this sort of work algorithmically. Algorithims are still written by humans, so they are just as vulnerable to biases. I'd say the biases could be mroe dangerous, since algorithms move much faster and search for patterns faster than any human could.

Work War Write New

(I was initially attempting to write a paragraph for each word before realizing this would be much too lengthy, so…here’s a bit of a front-heavy response.)

The Crisis: education, work, war

The Egoist: organic, real, time, new (also a curious absence of war?)

The Little Review: new, light, write/r

One of first word that I was struck by while once more reading the June 1918 edition of The Crisis was "college", and additionally from this, "university", "teacher", "teaching", and similar words focused upon the overarching topic of education. This wasn't simply because the edition begins with almost an overabundance of advertisements for schools that one might attend, but because, after this initial introduction to the topic (which is perhaps indicative of, or else an argument for, the African American of 1918 being deeply concerned with education), the edition returns to the subject again and again throughout. From the relation of a most "astonishing occurrence" of the mistreated schoolteacher, Miss M. C. Euell (who actually relates her own experience in this narration--pretty cool) to the subtle inclusion of teacher's salaries as determined by the Board of Education in Louisville, Kentucky which notes that, while some "White teachers (boys)" can receive a salary of up to $2,000, with many variations depending upon the class being taught, "For colored teachers there is only one class — Class A , the salary for which is $1,200 maximum, $1,000 minimum" (88). Such a prevalence for discussion not only of possibilities for education but of actual schools and schoolteachers at work seems an intentional pushback against the obvious ignorance expressed by one "learned editor" (as wryly described by one covering the story for The Crisis) who declares that he considers "the white man as just a little lower than the angels, and the Negro as just a little higher than the brutes" (61). Although the response by the writer for The Crisis' is rather scathingly splendid: "To this we simply add, in paraphrase: the more we see of angels the more we like brutes" (61), it is remarkable to me that, in many instances, the writers and editors of The Crisis are often content to allow the irrational cruelty of racism speak for itself. “Look about this volume alone”, The Crisis seems to argue, “and see on every page unquestionable evidence of the ignorance permeating such rhetoric.” 

Another word I noticed throughout The Crisis was persistent the topic of work, both explicitly advocated or simply assumed as necessary and valuable. Much of the work mentioned is either political or physical in nature, such as The Horizon section, and the many entries in the Personal column which details the many new jobs or promotions given to African Americans. From the frequent discussions (or even straight up lists) concerning what has been done, what has been attempted, and what has yet to be done, I feel a firm insistence that there is much work to do, and the reader ought to add their own efforts to the mix, too. Intricately connected to this topic of “work” in 1918 is, of course, the presence of war. Although a fixation upon the soldier’s experience is certainly unsurprising for a June 1918 wartime edition, I was quite struck by some of the pieces on WWI. Take the image on page 72, for instance (I tried to insert it but was unable). Although my first exposure to The Crisis was during our course last year on the topic of WWI, upon first reading this I don’t think I quite realized just how late in the war this volume was published, and what that meant to much writing. I have since been used to thinking that by June 1918 the fervor or idealism surrounding the war would likely have faded to bitterness in the face of wartime loss and atrocity, and so was rather surprised to see this image, centered upon an African American figure who is being freed from the economic slavery by a stern, sword wielding man simply named “The War” and titled “War, the Grim Emancipator”, featured without irony. This caused me to wonder if perhaps even by this moment the American perception of the war had not yet reached the desperation experienced in Europe?

Turning to these editions of The Egoist and The Little Review, I begin with a query: there is quite a notable absence of the topic of war in this June 1918 volume of The Egoist. I’m curious why this might be so, when surely the entire world is thinking of little else? I thought at first that perhaps literary/philosophy journals preferred to keep to themselves, but then the war is present in some material of The Little Review. As for the words above, organic and real I noticed immediately, since they are repeated rather frequently in the manifesto presented at the start of volume, and both are often linked to the concept of time (since “Time is organic movement” (79). I’m not always able to follow the philosophical arguments made here in entirety, but it is clear that it is of chief concern to The Egoist that the “modern” writer attempts to systematically yet philosophically (and even poetically, with the “lion and the lamb” simile, etc, and through literature), work through the nature of human existence and, in doing so, human art.

Additionally, the term new (also often italicized!) crops up again and again in The Egoist. This reminds me, of course, of Ezra Pound’s oft-quoted idiom. Although Dr. Laird rather effectively argued in our Modernism class last year that a translation closer to his intent would be something akin to a charge to “Renovate yourself” (which has some distinct differences from an all-encompassing order to “Make it new”), I am in any case used to associating the call to novelty and the new as intrinsically linked to Modernist thought, and so it was fun to actually recognize those philosophical threads. This word is also used in The Little Review to a lesser extent but to (perhaps) greater effect when the cover asserts of the journal itself that “The philosophical articles which The Egoist publishes, by presenting the subject-matter of metaphysics in a form which admits of logical treatment […] is investing that commonest but laxest of literary forms—the novel (as written in English)—with a new destiny and a new meaning.” Wow! I jest, but there is something interesting in considering (as we’ve already been doing, I realize) how one’s impression of a work is altered depending upon the format in which one first meets said work. Even though some of the stated goals within both The Egoist and The Little Review seem a bit lofty and conceited to me, what I notice first and foremost is their earnest commitment to reading, printing and valuing newly written stories, accounts, poems, etc., that are often being told in unusual ways.

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