The Great War in the War Number

Blast magazine's second issue, entitled the War Number, deals almost exclusively with the Great War. The plain cover of the first issue is replaced by a violent, Vorticist look at battle as drawn by Wyndham Lewis. The magazine begins with its usual manifestos and explanations of conflict in terms of the magazine's publication. Its "Editorial." sums up their excitement about the war, and their look at art's relevance in war time, both of which the writers of the magazine elaborate on tirelessly throughout the rest of the issue. Lewis' position is that violent times call for important art, and that people are more interested in art during these times. (Interest in Vorticist art did indeed dwindle over the next couple of years.) Delighted by the fighting, Lewis explains that the war is not just a war against the German govenrment. It is also a war against German art, which is too traditional and romantic. England is fighting for England, as well as their newest brand of modern, unsentimental art brought forward by Blast. This two front war is vitally important the the future of art, the future of England, and the future of Blast, which he to thinks will live on long past this second issue. It, as we know, does not live on, and evidentally England did not think it was fighting a war against German art, but simply a war against German soldiers.

The Conflicted Role of Women during World War I

Maja Vukosavljevic, Anna Chanie Istakhorova and Jenny Luczak

         The depiction of gender in modernist magazines during World War I can be deceivingly derogatory at first glance. In many of the magazines cataloged in the MJP from the war period there are poetry, narratives and essays which speak condescendingly of women. However, the topic of gender in the magazines should not be based on these instances alone. A closer examination of the world behind the publication shows the influence women had on the magazines during the era. Many of the magazines were edited solely by women, and many of the advertisements were directed towards female readers. This essay will illustrate that while the image of women in the modernist magazines may have been condescending, women were invaluable to the life of the modernist magazine.

          Wyndham Lewis' Blast was one of the more condescending magazines to woman. Its depicts females being solely in existence for reproductive purposes or being dumb and easily influenced by shiny objects. In it's second issue Wyndham makes his opinions about woman clear in "The European War and Great Communities" when he says: "Murder and destruction is man’s fundamental occupation. Women’s function, the manufacturing of children (even more important than cartridges and khaki suits) is only important from this point of view, and they evidently they realize this thoroughly" (July 1915 No. 2 16). He implies that a woman's sole role is in supporting the man's primeval urges for destruction by filling the ranks with fresh young blood; that there is no greater calling for women, in war or life, then to merely subordinate their male counterparts. Blast further carries on his negative attitude towards woman in short poems such as "Women Before A Shop" which is blatantly negative in it's views on woman. He recites "the gew-gaw of false amber and false turquoise attract them"(June 1914 No.1 49) this illustrates the author's belief that women are only interested in shallow and useless things. In this quote there is also the sense that the author believes women are incapable of comprehending anything in reality. The use of the word "false" in front of amber and turquoise particularly speaks to his thoughts on women not being in touch with reality and shallow. This sentiment of woman as being inferior and shallow is then further carried over in "Pastoral"(June 1914 No.1) a poem that depicts the appealing physical features of a woman but then quickly follows it up with an insult of her heinous laugh. As illustrated above, Blast depicts women as objects to be used by men but there is no appreciation for anything deeper.

            The Owl is another magazine that depicts women in a poor light such as being frivolous or inferior through drawings of women. One drawing in particular, above a fable called "Careless Lady," portrays a woman in a dress waving good bye to a beggar holding a child-her child. (May 1919 No 1 between pg 12 and 13, plate number IX) It also seems as though the lady was dancing up the stairs. The fable at the bottom of the page explains to the reader why this lady is shown in such a carefree manner: she gave her child away to the beggar when he came to her to ask for help. And after everything was said and done the lady tells the beggar "Bring her back...the next time you call." (May 1919 No 1 between pg 12 and 13, plate number IX) This fable along with the picture doesn't portray women in a very intelligent light, rather it's silly.

             Another literary work published in the same issue of The Owl  is called "The Sun," written by John Galsworthy. (May 1919 No 1 23-27) This is a play involving two men and a girl. It is implied that the girl was dating one of the men and then he was sent to fight in World War I, and she began to date another man. The play begins with the girl and her current boyfriend waiting for the old boyfriend to come back home. The girl wants to tell the old boyfriend that she no longer wants to date him. However, the girl's current boyfriend doesn't give her a chance to do so by coming out of hiding.

Soldier [old boyfriend]: ... Give us a kiss, old pretty.

The Girl: (drawing back) No.

Soldier: (blankly) Why not?

The Man with a swift movement steps along the hedge to the Girl's side.

The Man [current boyfriend]: That's why, soldier. (May 1919 No 1 26)

The man didn't give the girl a chance to tell the soldier what she wanted to say possibly because he thought that she was not smart enough to figure out how to do it herself.

            It seems that the man didn't want to even give the girl a chance to speak. After a little bit of bickering between the two men, the soldier says, "that's all right, then. You keep 'er." (May 1919 No 1 26) Basically, the girl's old boyfriend did not really care about her enough since he just gave her up so quickly. It also seems that the girl's current boyfriend only wanted her because he was able to steal her from someone else. "I don't want 'is charity. I only want what I can take." (May 1919 No 1 27) In the play, Galsworthy shows women as an inferior creature, and one that doesn't deserve to be loved. Rather, the woman is a sort of prize to be argued over. Both the fable and the play portray women negatively by showing their carelessness and showing how men treat them without respect.

           Unlike The Owl, The New Age did not have a specific agenda against women. This is not to say that women were not scolded for their poor behaviors. However, men were also scolded for their actions as well. There is a particular recurring article titled "Man and Manners. An Occasional Diary" that points out the mistakes that women AND men make. For instance, in the January 6, 1916 issue the author states, "Men are child-like too seldom. Women are childish too often." (Jan 1916 Vol 18 No 10 230) This is the first issue that this column appears in during the war and it seems that the author might criticize women and their ways in later columns as well as this one. In addition, in the February 24th issue the author rants about the way women carry themselves during the war. She states, "Woman herself will be to blame, for women are accompanying their war-services with manners that will surely forfeit their expected reward." (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 399) It seems that women were trying to do what men did by wearing khakis. However, "mens' khaki is to conceal them, so I'm told. Womens' is to attract?" (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 399) It seems that women are copying men just for the sake of copying them. The author asks women, "if the doing of mens' work involves the adoption of mens' manners and even their costume, how, please, shall we discover the superiority of women's ways?" (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 399) The author scolds women again by saying, "Women are on trial... women-your khaki manners will be used against you... it will have profited you nothing. Ridicule and worse-contempt and neglect." (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 399) Not only does the author scold women but while she scolds them she tries to make them see that they can be treated in a better way by changing their ways.

           Conversely, in another issue the author of this column relates a story to the reader in response to men "always complaining that women don't play the game with them." (January 1916 Vol 18 No 12 278)

Once upon a time there were two men who kept grumbling and grumbling that their wives-Heigho!-took up so much of their time they couldn't do any work. One fine morning the two wives went away for a holiday. "This is good," said their husbands. "Now, indeed, we shall get on with our work!" With these words the two men sat talking and talking and drinking and drinking till far into the dawn. "We will meet again to-morrow," and the elder of the tow as they parted long after the cockcrow. "With all my heart," cried his friend. "Then I will show you a photo of the little but of fluff I met when my wife-Heigho!-took up so much of my time I couldn't do any work!" On the morrow the two friends lay sleeping and sleeping till long past noon, but as soon as evening came they began talking and talking and drinking and drinking till far into the dawn. "To-morrow at the same hour," they agreed, as they parted long after the cock-crow. "Plenty of time to work when the wives come marching home!" (January 1916 Vol 18 No 12 278)

This shows a transition between the way women are viewed in The New Age.

            In another issue of The New Age the author attacks men and their rudeness for calling their waitresses "Miss" instead of just using the word "please." The author states, "The chief source of the trouble, I believe, is in the implication that no man takes a woman's work seriously." (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 326) The author continues to say that if women don't need to use the word "Miss" to get their waitresses' attention then why should men use that word. She ends off that thought with the following: "For me they are all settled by the general theory that the world is man's home, and his women visitors therein are his guests, while the paid officials, during their hours of office, are his servants. Would a man expect a woman whom he visits to curtsy to her servants? Servants should be directed without words. The more non-existent they become, the more perfect." (February 1916 Vol 18 No 14 327) In the February 10, 1916 issue the author relates her experiences in a cafe where she noticed that men mistreat women by not discussing important topics with women. "For ten minutes no one spoke more than the weather permitted. Then three of the men returned to a formulary philosophical discussion in which they were joined for an hour by a man who had left his woman-companion alone in another corner of the cafe." (February 1916 Vol 18 No 15 351) The author insists that men include women in their conversations. Basically, this column has something negative to say about the way men and women act and interact with each other. There are times when the author particularly blames men for the wrongs that she sees and there are times when the author says that women have dug their own graves by acting silly and childish.

        Although the previously mentioned magazines tended to portray women negatively in their content, Wheels serves as an example of the power women had as editors of modernist magazines. At first glance, the 1916 issue might be pegged as a woman's magazine since it illustrates a simple line drawing of a woman pushing a baby stroller (December 1916- Second Edition published March 1917 Vol. 1 Cover). This image has nothing to do with the poetry included, it's sun-shiny scene is actually antithetical to the publications poetry, which is consistently morbid. By the third volume, the editors had entirely revamped the magazines image, replacing simplistic images such as the woman and baby, with intense and angular futurist paintings such as "The Sky Pilot" (1918 Vol.3 Cover). The tone of this and further cover images continues the tone depicted here. It seems to be a move away from the feminine visual qualities of the first issue, yet the same issue which began this new trend also made it a point, for the first time in its  publication, to indicate that Edith Sitwell was the magazine's editor(1918 Vol.3). Throughout it's publication, the magazine was organized and edited by Edith and Osbert Sitwell, whereas issues in the past deferred to Osbert by publishing his poetry first, this issue indicated an editorial move in Edith's favor. In this way, Wheels serves as an example of the way masculine elements were often favored in the content of the magazine, while in the side-lines women were moving into positions of greater power.

            Another magazine illustrating the role of women in this way is Poetry, one of the longest running magazines in the MJP, for much of it's life it was predominately edited by two women. Hariet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson were the predominant editors, with Ezra Pound as a foreign corespondent. As the magazine's proprietor, Monroe made it her mission from the beginning not to espouse a particular political or literary opinion, but for the magazine to serve as means to foster the culture of poetry in the United States and abroad (October 1912 Vol.1 No.1 26-28). Monroe herself lived the life of a feminist (whether self-professed or not); she was a business woman, a poet, an essayist and a critic. Yet, Poetry's content gives little attention to the female role or the suffrage movement. Instead, Monroe continually uses her space for editorial commentary to publish opinion essays on the society of poetry and government policy. An example of such an essay is "Give Him Room" ( May 1915 Vol.6 No.2 81-84), which does not--as its title belies--give relationship advice to women, but speaks to the way society should treat their poets. Again in, "The City and the Tower" (April 1917 Vol. 10 No.1 36-39) Monroe extrapolates on linguistics and the spread of the English language as a result of the war. In this essay she makes biblical references and comments with authority on society, but again makes no reference to the feminist agenda.

           In her editorial policy, Hariet Monroe exemplified the goals of the feminist movement by acting in a position of power, but she did it without affiliating her magazine with the movement. Much like Edith Sitwell's Wheels, her magazine published predominately male authors, but did include female poets. The success of her magazine drew the attention of Ezra Pound, who, despite his involvement with Blast, a magazine which overtly demeaned women, worked with Monroe for many years, serving her magazine with poetry and criticism alike.

The powerful role of women within the magazine culture can also be seen in Scribner's advertisements. Scribner's devoted about half of it's pages to advertisements and many of which speak to the role of women in society during and before the war. The prominence of placement and quantity of advertisements geared towards women speak directly to the size and importance of the magazine's female readership. In February 1915 edition of Scribner's we're greeted by a full page advertisement for Tiffany's and Co. (Feburary 1915 Vol.57 No.2). The advertisement's placement on the 3rd page, second only to the context page, indicating the importance of grabbing the attention of the female patronage. Scribner's is peppered with advertisements promoting things such as "Royal Baking Powder," baker's cocoa (Feburary 1915 Vol.57 No.2), and Harper's Bazzar advertising Parisian Dress Makers (Janurary 1915 Vol.57 No.1). Each of these advertisements indicate the magazine's female readership. The opinions expressed throughout the various journals might vary in their view of women but through these advertisements we clearly see the role women did indeed play in the culture of modernist magazines. We see through these advertisements that woman not only helped the war effort by joining the work force but also by running the household. As a result of their contribution to both fields they became one of the chief demographics targeted by various advertisements indicating how indispensable they were to society.

            As this essay has illustrated, the role of women during World War I as seen through the modernist magazines, was a conflicted one. In many cases, women were in positions of power in the publishing industry, and often made up a strong portion of a magazine's readership. However, the content which the magazine's published predominantely depicted women in an unfavorable light. Seen in this way, the women's movement did not only assert influence by overtly proclaiming beliefs about human rights, but was also apparant in the more subtle way women were incorporated into the business of periodical literature.

Digital Humanities 2009, Conference Twitter Feed

Since the 2009 Digital Humanities Conference is currently taking place at the University of Maryland, I decided to add its Twitter feed to the aggregator on our website. You can now peruse the updates by following the Feeds link at the top of the site, or by going directly to

At the digital humanities conference, leading minds in the use of technology and information science for humanistic inquiry are presenting projects, ideas, theories, etc., many of which directly impinge on our work here. Feel free to blog any questions or observations, or to make comments on this post.

Check out participants' lightning interviews and other media here:

You might also wish to look at the leading journal in the field, Digital Humanities Quarterly.

Ode to a Fallen Soldier

The impact of World War I is something that becomes evident in international culture through literature during the time of its run. The toll it took on the human race becomes prominent in the poetry and literature of the magazine Wheels. Published annually, Wheels first began putting out issues in 1916, in the middle of the great calamity that was the war. The effect of the tremendous casualties is emphasised particularly in the work of fallen soldier Wilfred Owen, to whom the 1919 issue was dedicated after his death in combat, once the war had ceased and the caliber of the tragedy became eminent. Seven of his poems were premiered in this issue, after his demise. His poems are dark depictions of the dreariness that war the battleground. They instigate imagery that intrigues the senses in terms of what death, in all its apparency must be like: its odor, its soiled appearence, and the melancholy awareness that comes in and of mortality. In "The Show", Owen writes: "My soul looked down from a vague height with Death,/ As unremembering how I rose or why,/ And saw a sad land, weak with sweats of dearth,/ Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow dearth." In "Strange Meeting", he dicatates such blunt tragic imagery again: "The pity of war, the war distilled./ Now men will go content with what we spoiled,/ Or discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled." No line of his poetry is spared of the feeling. Shells and scenes of foxholes are prominent throughout each poem, all seven filled with the somber sorrow of life in vain, being cut short. Owen's poetry invokes the primal need to be human and alive, when that very notion is violated by an act such as war.

It is truly sad that his works should be published only after his own death in action. It is as if his poetry possessed a certain cognizance to what his own fate held. His words are almost expectant, as if to question why he should be spared among soldiers, but mostly, it brings to light the idea of man in a life of pleasure and normalcy, and how, to soldiers like him, that instinct was left on the backburner. To share his works after his own demise, and after the War itself gives the reader, in context of the time period, a great deal of appreciation and awareness for what had been the international situation the year prior, and how it affected the livelihood of people and soldier's like Owen. It makes one wonder what else such an author could have achieved in a less trying circumstance, or had he lived beyond the war. It is one of those reminders of our own mortality, a concept that is almost impossible for the living human to grasp, in the midst of the live experience.

Man and his Machines in Wheels Cover Art

       A colorful way to chart the progression of a magazines' ideals, is through their choice of cover art. While not all the modernist magazines cataloged in the MJP change the tone of their cover over the course of publication, those that do are rich with insight into the magazine's political and artistic stance as well as the time in which they are publishing. Wheels is one such magazine, the cover of which changes dramatically from 1916 when it was first published until 1921 when it ran it's last issue. Over the course of these years, the imagery moved from a simplistic line drawing to intricate futurist paintings depicting images of soldiers and mechanized men. Through the shift in the magazine's identifying cover, appears the progression of change in response to World War I.

       The first cover of Wheels published in 1916 depicts a simple image of a woman pushing a baby carraige (March 1916 Vol.1). The war was, at this point, already in progress, but judging by the cover, the magazines particular artistic and political sentiments had not yet formed in it's first issue. The second issue offers a more sophisticated design from the first line drawing, it depicts a variety of circular shapes repeated over the cover(1917 Vol.2). In stark contrast, the third issue is illustrated by an angular futuristic painting of a bird like machine titled at the bottom, "The Sky Pilot" (1918 Vol.3). This image begins a new phase of cover art for Wheels; the following year, the magaine published a cover depicting fucia colored men using machienery of the same huge, causing the men and their equiptment to be indeciperable from one another (1919 Vol.4). The year this cover was published the war ended, but Wheels continued on to published two more covers of sarkly different character from those previous. Even the most artistically illiterate individual (like myself) can see a progression of thought in the artistic editing over the final years of the war. Influenced by futurist painters, the covers of Wheels illustrate the effect the war had on individuals relationship to machines.

A Carefree Rhetoric

Created as a "miscelleny", literary magazine The Owl addresses no particular sect or movement of Modernism, nor does it claim to take any political view. The contents of each of its three issues are organized in a relatively similar fashion: the first half generally contained a great deal of poetry, followed by a story, and a play of sorts. The issues are dispersed with illustrations, some with handwritten poetry or fables written out beneath them. The Owl possesses a sense of imagery that is somewhat cartoonish and imaginative. The illustrations seem to observe people in an exaggerrated, but genuine state, almost emphasizing the world and life as would be observed by a child, or youth. These articles contain flowery, loopy typescript that appears to be handwritten, and pages are headed with small drawings of paper scrolls and flourishes. Each issue displays the written names of the authors therein on the cover, beneath a bold illustration of an Owl, all possessing strong dark lines that mimic the writing of the contents, and each contains various portraits of people in an unusual, enlivened state. Careless Lady, in the May 1915 edition, as well as Vain Man, in the October 1919 issue, both contain illustrations of high spirited people, acting in a childlike sense; in addition, both pictures are followed by a short, almost Mother Goose type rhyme about these adults acting in an enigmatic, youthful fashion. The poetry of the magazine has a tendency to discuss light hearted topics such as nature, and love. A sense of freedom, happiness, and a certain ignorance of sadness is prominent throughout. The magazine almost seems geared towards forgetting, and holding life and carelessness to a high standard, much obliged by the illustrative titles and covers of the text throughout The Owl.

The War in Scribner's Magazine

There are an abundance of essays and articles that focus on the war within the many issues of "Scribner's Magazine". One of the essays that stood out to me was "War and the Artist" by Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum, which appeared in Vol 57, No.1 in January 1915. The author tried to connect war with art. He explained that the essence of war gives inspiration to the artist. He says that from the beginning of time there have been countless depictions of war from many different artist. We have evidence of it from ancient egyptian times. He feels that the emotions that come along with war, such as: "Patriotism and treason, courage and cowardice, self-sacrifice and ambition, love and hatred", have always been apart of war. These emotions are what inspire the best artist to do their work. I think this essay was placed in the magazine as a sort of inspiration to artists of the time. The author praises English and American Modern artist for "dealing with actual condtions instead of the fanciful and pretentious" in their portrayal of scences of war. I felt that he was trying to get more artist to be involved and to create artwork about the war. Although he doesn't really address his politic opinion about the war, I still got the sense that he was for any kind of war because of what it brought to the aesthetic world.

After looking through some of the other issues of the magazine, I saw that there was one essay that appeared twice in two different issues. The essay "A Bomb Thrower in the Trenches" by Lieutenant Z of the British Army, appeared in Vol. 60 No.1 from July 1916, as well as Vol. 60 No.2 from August of the same year. The essay is a series of letters written "from the trenches by an Englishman who enlisted as a trooper in one of the new calvary regiments at the outbreak of the war". The letters vividly describe different scenes from the war, witnessing of deaths all around him, and the exhaustion that comes along with war. I believe it had to be an essay of great importance for it to show up twice back to back. The essay seems very nationalist in the sense that he never gave up. He was always trying to do better and to help out in anyway that he could. This was probably the message that they were trying to send by publishing this essay. They wanted to show people that even though it was a difficult war, it was important that everyone contributed wholeheartedly.

The "absence" of the war in The Owl

As noted by the MJP, the editors of The Owl were explicit in their foreword to the first issue that their publication "has no politics, leads no new movement and is not even the organ of any particular generation."  As such, materials within the magazine's pages directly covering the war are scarce.  A large portion of content in both of The Owl's issues deal with the nature of people and things, and of relationships between people, snippets of conversations and happenings or observations.  Many drawings depict bucolic images such as hillside picnics and wreathed women, dressed in clothes with ornaments from the natural world (leave-adorned skirts, flowers blooming on a bodice), surrounded by children and babies.  Illustrated fables also appear throughout both issues. 

The tone of the magazine, however, changes often, from whimisically observant to expressive of some darker current, as in "Everyone Sang" by Siegried Sassoon, from the second issue.  The Owl 2 was published the year after the end of the war, and this poem in particular seems to remark upon its end or, in the very least, the end of an event with comparative significance.  Sassoon likens the joy he experiences in this end to that "as prisoned birds must find in freedom" and goes on to describe "horror/ Drift[ing] away," and a "wordless" song which will "never be done."  Although not directly naming the war or its effects on the poet's life and the world in general, The Owl's readers would no doubt associate such a poem, a year after the war's end, with their own feelings of lifted heaviness/ relief in its wake.

Shifting Concerns in Wheels

Wheels was an annual anthology of poetry that published its first issue in 1916, two years after the outbreak of World War I. Excluded the first, In the four issues produced during the war, there are numerous explicit references to the conflict. In fact, in that period many of the poets chose the war as their direct subject. The range of focus, however, in the many poems varies. Age vs. youth, love, and nation are all examined in their relative relationships to the ongoing combat in Europe.

Interestingly, the first issue of Wheels was issued in two editions and it is the second of these editions, published in 1917, that the Modern Journalist Project has chosen to reproduce. The only notable addition in this second printing is a preface, in the form of a poem, included in the first pages of the magazine. Nevertheless, this poem sheds a great deal of light on the shifting concerns of the publication.

Entitled "In Bad Taste", the prefacing poem acknowledges the notable lack of war-related content in the first issue. Specifically, the poem remarks that while the young are at war, the old at home act like hypocrites and "roll their silly eyes" (v.). This preface seems to be a self-directed criticism, as the poems in the first issue of the Wheels starkly contrast with the next three in that their subject matter exclude direct references to the war, which the poet seems, in retrospect, to regard as reprehensible.

How women are viewed during The Great War

Throughout many of the magazines that I have looked through I noticed that there are a lot of literary works that depict women in a frivolous or unsophisticated way. For instance, in the poem "WOMEN BEFORE A SHOP" Ezra Pound shows women as people who enjoy to look at shiny things. "The gew-gaws of false amber and false turquoise attract them." (Blast I, pg 49) Also, there is an article titled "Man and Manners. An Occasional Diary," that states "Men are child-like too seldom. Women are childish too often." (The New Age, 1/6/1916, pg 230) It clearly states that women do not behave like adults as men do. In another issue of The New Age, the recurring article "Man and Manners. An Occasional Diary," the author states, "The more women let themselves go the more men let them go!" (The New Age, 2/17/1916, pg 373) By this the author is trying to say that when women act in an inconsiderate way around men, men will resiprocate the actions. Before this partiular line the author was saying that women act with poor manners in a cafe, and so do men. In another magazine, there is a fable about a "Careless Lady," who gives her child away to a beggar. (The Owl, 5/1919, no page number) There is also a picture depicting the fable right above it, and in this picture the woman looks almost as if she is dancing back into her house. Basically, these three different magazines published during World War I had somewhat of a similar theme going on when publishing works about women-they are careless and are distracted easily by shiny things.