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Remember, the Modernist Journals Project is Pretty Awesome

By Harriet Staff

Magazine Modernisms draws our attention to an unfortunate story that names the Modernist Journals Project as #79 on Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s 2012 Wastebook, which “…highlights more than $18 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted in 2012. [The] report highlights 100 of the year’s countless unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects spread throughout the federal government.” As you can see from our report here, we think the MJP is pretty rad. And if we need a rad-reminder, here goes:

What Coburn’s office did not take the time to notice was that the MJP does much, much more than digitize “old magazines.” It scans periodicals that are part of the national heritage and international culture, carefully,producing high quality images of complete issues, including covers, ads, and other materials stripped from many library runs. The MJP’s scans are carefully coded in order to make sure that the issues are fully searchable, so that any person familiar with Google can easily locate something of interest among thousands of pages. In the process, she might well make some serendipitous discoveries of material even more useful or exciting than what she was looking for. That’s one of the powers of magazines–they show us more of history than what we’re looking for. What some people call “old magazines”–the kind of things any sensible person binds up and puts in his recycling bin–others consider valuable artifacts providing a richer and deeper contact not just with high art and literature, but the history of advertising, civil rights, feminism, and politics.

But wait, there’s more. The MJP has begun making available all the metadata produced in the process of creating these free, searchable, online versions of magazines that are increasingly difficult to locate in archives as they are gradually crumbling. This provides access in two senses: anyone with an internet connection can see the MJP and download complete pdf versions of magazines, and the metadata opens up the periodicals to different level of analysis (and here) (and here). Finally, let us not forget the site’s original texts, materials produced by scholars in the field: author biographies, introductions to periodicals, and suggestions for using the MJP to teach.

Need we say more? Make the jump and add your thoughts to the comment stream and find the link to Coburn’s contact form.


Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.