Circulating the Avant-Garde: Aesthetic Counter-Publics in the Little Magazines, 1890-1920

The text reads "The Yellow Book: An ILlustrated Quarterly. Volume I, APril 1894." The page is yellow, the text is black. There's a cartoon drawing of a happy woman with a black mask over her eyes, and behind here there is a person smiling and wearing a black mask.

Front cover of The Yellow Book, volume 1, April 1894. Special Collections Research Center.

Event Information

August 6th, 2019 through October 4th, 2019
Hatcher Graduate Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
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Event Type

Thanks to advances in color lithography and photo-engraving as well as resurgent interest in small-press publishing, richly illustrated and typeset “little magazines” flourished between 1890 and 1920. The materials collected in this exhibit, all held in the Special Collections Research Center, showcase not only the variety, beauty, and originality of turn-of-the-century print-making, but also new ideas about what a magazine can do: namely, create distinctive communities around avant-garde ideas outside of mainstream channels. The communities imagined in these magazines are sometimes explicitly political or aesthetic, but more often both combine in writers’ and artists’ resistance to mass-market, industrial, bourgeois, and nationalist print cultures.

The magazines in this exhibit are mostly American and British, but many are distinctively cosmopolitan, crossing borders to engage with international movements like socialism, decadence, and modernism in their attempts to create an audience united by aesthetic and political ideals rather than nationality. Although the little magazines’ resistance to mainstream journalism shortened their lifespan and restricted their circulation, their experimental approach has had a lasting impact on our sense of magazines as flexible aesthetic and social media.

Additional Infomation

Library Contact
Kristine Greive
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Last modified: 08/06/2019