Diarists as Readers:

Thick Journals and Literary Networks

in the Prozhito Data


Andrew Janco (Haverford College)

and Philip Gleissner (Ohio State)

Goals for This Unit

  • Use Prozhito data to explore a concrete research problem in the field of literary history, namely the reception of thick journals.

  • Illuminate the process of capturing and operationalizing data.

  • Walk through the steps of an exploratory analysis of the data as networks and make first observations about the way Soviet readers perceived literary magazines.

  • Learn the basics of social network analysis, using the online tool Palladio.

The Thick Journal

  • monthly publications
  • 150-250 pages
  • circulation between 70,000 and 2,000,000
  • literary texts (first publication), literary criticism, journalism
  • sizable editorial teams

After 1956

  • expansion of journals
    • numerous new publications
    • growth in press runs
  • Question: What impact does this have on Soviet literature?

Research Problem

Journals and the Literary Field under Late Socialism

  • Centrifugal forces and fragmentation of the field of literary journals
    • Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it becomes less likely for authors to publish in several journals.
    • Some journals share more authors than others, i.e. some are more similar than others.
    • Journals create competitive market for literature under the conditions of state socialism.

Soviet Journals Reconnected

  • bibliographical data for six Moscow-based periodicals between 1956 and 1972 from Soviet Chronicle of Periodical Publications
  • data parsing, normalization, and creation of database
  • ca. 10,000 contributions and 3,000 authors


From Bibliographical Data to the Literary Field

  • idea: use bibliographical data to visualize and analyze the late socialist literary landscape
  • key question: contribution of authors to literary magazines
  • network: stuff (nodes) and connections between stuff (edges)
  • a bimodal network graph
  • Need more terminology? Check out Miriam Posner's network analysis glossary

The Landscape of Late Socialist Journals

  • represent information as unimodal graph:
    • edge = shared author
    • edge weight = relative number of shared authors

Six Moscow-Based Journals between 1960 and 1964

  • some journals share a larger pool of authors
    • openness to each other's authors and aesthetic
    • similarity in form and content
  • ties decrease diachronically

From Cultural Production to Cultural Consumption

  • Journals shared varying numbers of authors: social landscape of the field of literary production and similarities and differences between journals

  • Over time, ties between journals in terms of shared authors grow weaker.

  • Question: Does this matter to readers? Are we indeed watching a competitive market of cultural production AND consumption?

  • Proposal: Trace literary reception in the diaries in the Prozhito archive. Which journals do diarists read and mention at the same time?

Step One: The Data


Step One: The Data


Step Two: Create a Network in Palladio

Step Three: Evaluate Data as Unimodal Graph

Learn to use Cytoscape with Miriam Posner's tutorial...

To Conclude

  • Some of our preliminary observations are consistent with the fragmentation of literary production discussed in the beginning.

    • Versatility of the journal Znamia.

    • Mutual exclusivity of...

    • Outsider position of...

Next Steps:

  1. Return to qualitative analysis: journals referenced in a negative or positive way, in-depth or peripherally?

  2. Make sure the data is complete and weed out data that doesn’t fit, e.g. diaries of literary authors.


By philipgleissner