This introductory chapter discusses how the story of a periodical is not the story of its editors; it is also a narrative of intersections and adjacencies, of timeliness and accident, and of labour behind the scenes that is not visible in the finished product. A magazine is an ‘unstable compound’, a shifting terrain of verbal, visual and historical contingencies that arise from its internal workings (procedures for editing, checking, and production); in its published form (juxtapositions of editorial, cartoons, and advertising, arrangement into ‘departments’, visual constituents and page layouts); and in its external relations (readership, affiliations, and competition with other media). The chapter reads across and between The New Yorker departments, with particular weighting towards fiction and poetry.
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