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Women in The Masses: Allusions to “Woman” in the Text Transcripts

In the charts below, we look at the frequency and variations of the words “woman” and “women” in the pages of The Masses, which should indicate how discourses about women are distributed through the contents of the magazine. The first three charts involve transcripts of the magazine during its first three years (from Jan 1911 through Sep 1913), which we've organized by date of publication to coincide with three periods when the magazine was run by these four different editors:

  • Thomas Seltzer & Horatio Winslow (12 issues: Jan-Dec 1911)
  • Piet Vlag (eight issues: Jan-Aug 1912)
  • Max Eastman (ten issues: Dec 1912-Sep 1913)

These three charts, accordingly, may reveal if the discourses about women in the magazine differed under these editorships. By contrast, the final two charts below represent all seven years (and 79 issues) of the magazine, which we've organized by the genre of the magazine's contents instead of their date of publication. These charts should reveal how keyterms related to "women" are distributed through the following sections of the magazine: advertisements, articles (or non-fiction prose), table of contents, drama, fiction, images (captions), letters, miscellaneous (which includes the masthead and other texts about the magazine itself), and poetry.

All of these charts were produced using tools freely available on Voyant.

"Women" in The Masses over Time

Because The Masses is often regarded as having come into its own after Max Eastman became editor, we wanted to see how the discourse of women in the magazine during the first year of his tenure compares with what appeared in the magazine's two previous years. (In fashioning three periods to study, we additionally wanted to see if there was any difference between the magazine's first year, edited by Seltzer and then Winslow, and the magazine's second year, edited by Vlag.) Interestingly, the charts below seem to indicate that variants of the word "woman" appear most frequently during the magazine's first period, edited by Seltzer/Winslow. Though each chart tracks the relative frequency of a handful of related words (like "woman," "women," "woman's" and "womanhood"), by clicking on the "collapse terms" box in each chart you can produce a single trend line that summarizes the frequencies of all the charted words, which makes it easier to compare their results.

Frequency of "woman" in Seltzer/Winslow issues (Jan-Dec 1911)

Frequency of "woman" in Vlag issues (Jan-Aug 1912)

Frequency of "woman" in Eastman's first ten issues (Dec 1912-Sep 1913)

Closer examination of the numbers represented in the trend lines above confirms the impression we get from looking at the charts: the magazine edited by Seltzer/Winslow contains an average of 38.1 instances of "woman"-related words per issue, whereas the magazine during Vlag's editorship contains 35.1 such words per issue while an issue during Eastman's first year contains on average only 26 such words. This suggests that during the first two years of the magazine, women were a more frequently-cited topic, and showed up more frequently in discourses, than during Eastman's start as editor.

Women and Genre in The Masses

The word cloud below and the list of words that follows it both represent the same thing: the many different references to "women" that appear in the corpus of The Masses. In the word cloud, the size of each word expresses approximately how often it shows up in the magazine when compared to the other words in the cloud (which explains why only a couple letters of "woman," which far exceeds the appearance of any other word, may show up inside the frame of the cloud). In the "Count" column of the second chart, you can find out exactly how often each word appears in the magazine, or you can simply hover your cursor over any word in the cloud to display the same information.

By double-clicking on any word in the cloud, or by checking the box to the left of that word in the second chart above, you'll be taken to a page in Voyant where, in the Word Trends box, you can see how that word's appearances in the magazine are distributed through nine different genres of writing. Here, for instance, you can learn that of the 1,612 instances of "woman" in The Masses, 568 appear in articles, 457 in fiction, 417 in ads, and 71 in poems.