It has been a decade since the launch of the of the Modernist Journals Project heralded the arrival of what might be called “modern periodical studies.” This essay ponders the degree to which work in this new field has broadened or changed our sense of early twentieth-century print culture and literary history. It focuses on the first five years of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies as a way of gauging whether modern periodical studies has lived up to its promise of uncovering “largely unexplored ways” in which periodical publishing “shaped modernity,” to quote the journal’s opening editorial. I reach a number of provisional conclusions, including that the field of periodicals under scrutiny has expanded dramatically; the imprimatur of literary modernism remains very strong in the field, limiting the degree to which modern periodical studies has expanded or provided fresh views of the literary field; and a tacit disagreement exists as to the object of knowledge in modern periodical studies, with some scholars using early twentieth-century periodicals as a means toward a fuller understanding of modernism, others using them to gain insights about modernity and culture more broadly, and a relative few using them to gain insights into how literature and print culture functioned outside the rubric of modernism. I conclude with a renewed call to make periodicals the primary object of study in ways that are not beholden to preexisting critical categories.


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pp. 92-111
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