Small Presses and Little Magazines: a Print Culture Perspective on Modernism

Prescott, Lynda (2020). Small Presses and Little Magazines: a Print Culture Perspective on Modernism. In: Poplawski, Paul ed. Yearbook of English Studies, Volume 50. Modern Humanities Research Association, pp. 13–28.




Although the importance of small presses and little magazines to the development of early twentieth-century modernism has long been recognised, recent scholarship in print culture studies has enlarged this field of enquiry and challenged some of conventional literary history’s assumptions about how modernist literature is defined and categorised. Drawing on developments in periodical studies, and the concept of a communications circuit for books and other print forms, this essay explores the historical significance of some prominent as well as lesser-known magazines and publishing imprints from the era of high modernism. Key topics including advertising and censorship are discussed in relation to a range of magazines including the short-lived British Blast, the American Little Review, and the international Transatlantic Review, as well as ‘quality’ mainstream magazines. Overlapping networks of writers, editors and publishers also supported the spread of modernist book publishing from new presses: some, like the Black Sun Press and Hours Press, served small elite markets, while the imprints of B.W. Huebsch in America and the Hogarth Press in Britain each grew into diverse publishing enterprises, bringing modernism into the mainstream of the literary marketplace.

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