< style type="text/css"> Remediating the Avant-Garde
Remediating the Avant-Garde

Semyon Khokhlov & Gary O'Neil

Modernism from a Distance: Data-Mining the Little Review

The Little Review, a preeminent American modernist little magazine, exerted a powerful influence in its day and has been considered, by critics and artists alike, as synonymous with avant-garde modernism. More recent critical analysis of the magazine has provided valuable insights into the ways it engaged with issues such as urbanism and mass culture. Our paper mobilizes tools and methods developed within the field of digital humanities to supplement extant perspectives on the Little Review, developed, as a rule, through strategies of close reading. Our corpus, obtained through the Modernist Journals Project, consists of seventy-three issues of the magazine, spanning the years 1914, when it was founded, and 1922. (The Little Review was active until 1929, but, due to copyright restrictions, we are not able to process issues from those years.) Using a natural language processor (Stanford CoreNLP), we have extracted and compiled location names occurring within the magazine, focusing, particularly but not exclusively, on Europe and America at the levels of city, country and region. The data we have gathered allows us to examine the overall trend in the level of representation of geographical locations achieved in the magazine, calculated by the frequency with which locations are mentioned. We focus as well on the presence of frequently occurring locations such as New York and Paris, considering them both individually and comparatively, with the intention of demonstrating how the magazine's representation of such urban sites fluctuated over time. We connect the results of our quantitative analysis to major changes in the magazine's composition, editorial focus, and personnel as well as its physical location (the magazine, over the course of the time period we are considering, was based in three US cities: Chicago, San Francisco and New York). In our inquiry into the Little Review's representation of and commitment to geographical locations, we organize our data in such a way as to understand and compare the distribution of mentions in texts and paratexts such as advertisements. It is often the case that studies of avant-garde publications blur the boundaries between these elements. By organizing our data in a way that acknowledges those boundaries, we are able to gain a better understanding of how the Little Review signified its diverse commitments in different contexts within its pages. Through these approaches, taken together, we aim to discern the larger patterns and significance of geographical representation in the Little Review.


Semyon Khokhlov is a fourth-year English PhD student at Notre Dame focusing on twentieth-century avant-garde figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein and Ted Berrigan. He is interested in the culture of little magazines and philosophical and sociological pragmatism.

Gary O'Neil is a third-year English PhD student at Notre Dame where he studies the literary and religious culture of early modern England with a focus on early modern drama. The recipient of a Canadian Graduate scholarship and Provost Fellowship, Gary is especially interested in the history of protestant polemic, especially as it relates to the sacraments, the history of the emotions and Shakespeare.