Adventures in Zine Making, Part 1


So the semester is winding up, and many of my students spent the final moments of 12/12/12 rendering, uploading, and waiting on YouTube, no doubt receiving error messages, and possibly throwing things at the computer. This is a bit of a new development–not technological frustrations, but the amount to which creative production (beyond paper writing, which is of course a form of creative production in itself, we can’t forget that!) has become a core part of my classes. I taught two courses this semester–one on Remix Culture and one on Gender/Sexuality/Media–and both courses, to different degrees, incorporated creative production. I designed the syllabi with the idea in mind that insight comes from making and doing and exploring within, with a critical mind. And more than that, for the Remix Culture class especially, I didn’t want the creative production to be only a means to an end, but an end in and of itself; so we experimented with the way we could use remix to talk about remix, and about our own media investment, our placement within remix culture.

But that’s a post for another time, actually. Here I want to give you a first taste of the (I think, totally inspiring) creative work my students did in Gender/Sexuality/Media. In this class, most of the assigned work is more traditional (short papers, longer papers, weekly inquiries), but there is one required assignment that definitively takes the form of non-traditional scholarship: zine making. We read Alison Piepemeier’s Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, which serves as a wonderful introduction  not only to girl zines but also to the histories and stakes of feminism. At first, students are often a bit befuddled by the notion that zines might still be relevant in this digital age, but the more they read, and then once they actually *do,* I’ve found that students really start to experience and embrace (and become proponents for) the value Piepemeier sees in zines–the intimate immediacy, the personal in the physical materiality of the zine. Through this assignment, both I and my students have come to value the opportunity zines offer to speak back to and around media, without necessarily being linear or resisting contradiction, not to mention the sense of collective creativity and a material gift culture bound together by glue sticks, magazine clippings, and occasionally glitter.

I don’t give a lot of guidelines for this assignment because I want it to be the place where the students make their own rules, since that’s how zine making is, while still being aware of how their zines fit within the traditions and cultures of zine making. The result each semester is a wonderfully diverse set of zines–they seem to get more diverse and surprising and compelling each semester. Here are some images (below the cut) from two zines from this semester, which I’ll for now let speak for themselves. I’ll follow them up with images from the others in a later post (with some further thoughts on what the zine-making contributed to the class), so as not to overwhelm.

So, I’m interested to here: what hands on creative work have you experienced in media studies classes (either

From How to Be a Bad Ass (cover at the top of this post)




From Little Monsters






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