Situated in the context of late 19th century modernism, little magazines are seen as any small periodical established with an objective to publish nonconformist and avant-garde art and literature. As Eric B. White notes in Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism, “the predominant feature of the little magazines in the rise of literary modernism was their ability to catalyse and sustain the production of avant-garde artworks and specialized discourse networks,” noting how this platform allowed individuals and groups to experiment with new ideas that characterized social, political and cultural realities of the fin-de-siècle (1).
Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman note how, “in the world of periodicals, little magazines were perceived as handsome little Davids confronting ugly big Goliaths” (56). Little magazines such as The Yellow Book and Blast were positioned as an alternative for readers from the commercial magazines such as The Strand Magazine creating a distinction between what was seen as “high” and “low” publications. Little Magazines were often characterized by the exclusion of explicit advertising and commercialization, however, as suggested in “Introduction to the Yellow Nineties,” which looks specifically at The Yellow Book, advertising and branding can be seen as much of a reality with little magazines as their more commercialized counterparts.
Although scholars often place little magazines within the category of “high” magazines, Scholes and Wulfman suggest that this is a “romanticized definition of little magazines” and the reality of categorization is far more problematic as “lumping too many distinct magazines under a single classification” means that many unique features are being lost through this simplified categorization process (56, 69). Therefore, little magazines can best be understood as a platform rooted in the fact that no one little magazine is the same as the next as each uses the magazine platform to uniquely reflect a wide range of social, political and cultural ideologies.
Kooistra, Lorraine Janzen and Dennis Dennisoff. “Introduction to The Yellow Nineties.” The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2012. Web. [October 25, 2015]. http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=Intro_Y90s.html
Scholes, Robert and Clifford Wulfman. “Rethinking Modernist Magazines: From Genres to Database.” Modernism in the Magazines. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. 44-72. Print.
White, Eric B. “Prologue.” Transatlantic Avant-Gardes : Little Magazines and Localist Modernism. Edinburgh, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 25 October 2015.