Asian American Little Magazines 1968-1974: By Amardeep Singh

Asian American Little Magazines

This site introduces readers to Asian American little magazines published between 1968 and 1974. This was a moment when a new Asian American literary movement was in the process of emergence, and young writers, some of whom would go on to become established figures, were first publishing their works in new magazines. Writers whose early works are described on this site include Lawson Inada, Janice Mirikitani, Frank Chin, Amy Uyematsu, Mike Murase, and Ron Tanaka, among many others.

To be clear, this is not a digital archive Asian American little magazines. Many of the works published in those magazines are likely still under copyright -- and in any case, there are other sites that operate as repositories for works published in those magazines (for a list of such repositories, see below). 

We're choosing 1968 as a starting point because that is the year when, scholars claim, Yuji Ichioka coined the term "Asian American" to describe a shared sense of identity amongst Chinese-American, Japanese-American and Filipino-American communities. 1968 is also the year of the groundbreaking student strike at San Francisco State College -- which led to the creation of the first Ethnic studies departments at American universities. The next few years would see impressive activity amongst Asian American activists, students, and community members -- and the emergence of numerous independent publications on both the east and west coasts. Since 1974 is the year of the publication of a major anthology of Asian American literature, Aiiieeeee, 1974 seems like an appropriate endpoint for a narrowly focused archive like this one.

Little Magazines 

A "little magazine" is typically understood as an independent publication aimed at a niche audience. Our usage of the term borrows from substantial scholarly work in modernist studies on the role of the little magazine in early 20th century writing. Little magazines were crucial to the emergence of an avant-garde modernist movement in England and the U.S. Analogously, I believe important conversations were occurring amongst young Asian American writers during the period marked here. Rather than modernism, the outcome of their networking was the formation of an Asian American literary movement. Alongside documenting the actual magazines in question, this site aims to show the emergence of a network during the time period in question. 

To be clear, these were by no means the only Asian American magazines being published at the time. Alongside the alternative publications showcased here were established magazines like Pacific Citizen, Kashu Mainichi, and Crossroads. Within the Japanese community, these were often operated and edited by the older generation (Nisei); the independent little magazine format was largely favored by the then-emergent third generation Japanese American community (Sansei). 

This project has been greatly facilitated by several repositories of little magazine materials online, including:

the Gidra repository
the Aion repository
the Yellow Seeds repository

The journal Amerasia Journal was initially published as an academic journal by undergraduates at Yale University; its editors were in direct conversation with writers and editors who tended to publish in the other journals, so it will be considered here alongside the others. (Early issues of Amerasia Journal are available through academic journal providers.)

Magazines such as Bridge: the Asian-American Magazine can be found in the special collections of various research libraries, including some on the east coast. Magazines such as Rodan and Kalayaan International, tend to be more limited to West Coast collections. 

--Amardeep Singh
Department of English
Lehigh University

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