Although the brief lifespans of little magazines are frequently noted and even celebrated in modernist periodical studies, little comparative data or research on the subject of longevity exists. Typically, little magazines have short lifespans, some, like Fire!!, only publishing one or two issues. Others, like The Masses or This Quarter, lasted longer, ranging from two to ten years. There are outliers like The Dial and New Masses, which both lasted for more than forty years, and Poetry and The Crisis, which are still running. After our computerized textual analysis of the meta-data we collected on little magazines provided limited insights, we realized that we might be able to learn more about magazine longevity by combining our digitized data and socio-historical research and close reading through three case studies.
We chose three magazines that represented three different lifespan: Fire!!, which only had one issue, The Colored American Magazine, which ran for nine years, and The Southwest Review, which has run for more than one hundred years and is still being published today. These three magazines provide a set of case studies for a socio-historical analysis. The Southwest Review is much less celebrated than other long-living magazines, such as Poetry or The Crisis, yet just as enduring. Using The Colored American Magazine allows us to consider race factors that may have affected its lifespan. A case study on Fire!! may provide reasoning for why a little magazine ran for one issue besides the expected financial issues. Click on the three case studies below to learn more.