“The procedures of (a) cutting out and (b) assemblage are of course basic to any semiotic message; here they are

the message. The cuts and sutures of the research process are left visible; there is no smoothing over or blending of the work’s raw data into a homogenous representation.” -James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art1 “…with the invention of writing, human beings took one step further back from the world. Texts do not signify the world; they signify the images they tear up. Hence, to decode texts means to discover the images signified by them. The intention of texts is to explain images, while that of concepts is to make ideas comprehensible. In this way, texts are a metacode of images.” -Vilém Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography2 the brief honk of a car horn. a hollow tin thud and cheers from the baseball field. a fan turning in a computer tower – starting, then cooling, and turning off. The low hum of an oscillating fan. click, click, click. release. fingernails clacking on laptop keys. mechanized punches of letters machined into the surface of paper – punctuated thoughtful slapping clacks. DING! boxes whispered from shelves. plastic bags crinkling under the delicate weight of fingers pushing and pressing, pausing, then unsheathing, cool plastic slapping on a table surface. DING! a box slid back into place, smooth friction. a thumb fans the edges of gathered paper. paper rubs between fingers, catching as it bows. the melody of guitar strumming radiates from a speaker on the floor, circulating around table legs and shelving fixtures. The zine archive starts here. I bring you into this space to begin thinking, feeling, touching, and doing from the “living” archive. In this space you hold a zine in your hands; your fingers feel the stiffness of paper as you turn a page. Bodies of zines are touched, manipulated, splayed open, and filed again like little soldiers, upright. Face forward. Spines facing out. These sounds, actions, and sensations activate this space. However, many of these zines once served a social function – possibly a political function – and they were bartered, shared, or distributed within various personal networks. A music fanzine coincides with the ephemerality of music, a band, a show. Another zine bookmarks the mission and activities of queer community organizing. These are the documents of touched spaces with the ability – through the

James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 146. 2 il m l er Towards a Philosophy of Photography (London: Reaktion, 2000), 11.

materiality of the zine body – to place one’ hand on ephemeral experience. B t what happen to these touched materials when placed in the archive? How does touch at a remove from the time and space that brought these bodies to life change the reception of these materials? Removing zines from their social and community-building function and placing them in the archive can alter the way in which the zine operates or is received. It can border on destruction. Derrida examines the archive and it “death drive ” tating “we will never find anything other than that which expo e to de tr ction and in truth menaces with destruction, introducing, a priori, forgetfulness and the archiviolithic into the heart of the monument.”3 The zine placed/stored in the archive heralds the death of the zine. It is a violent act. These zines gathered together are the “living” dead the zine archive a tomb of care for the body of the zine, and is a space where thinking, feeling, touching, and doing are activities contesting this death and re-animating the zine body. rom within the pace of the “living” archive I draw on my own collaborative work where c tting and suture form the fragmented and hybridized body of the zine, recomposed from a desire for selfdocumentation and selected ephemera sifted through from a virtual or physical landscape of excess and waste. This doing is situated in movement, action, and feeling where it becomes possible to think with the zine. We might think of the archive as a quiet, controlled, neutral, objective environment where material of memory is entombed by responsible and highly efficient professionals trained in the practice of caretaking for such artifacts. Bringing in my own experience animating the patchwork body of the zine a well a the ndertaking of the “living” archive I invite the reader to consider an archive space that houses material emerging from the noise, mess, and every day, one that is a “living” environment actively introducing noise and mess into daily practice.


Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever : A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 12.

This is an intervention into the traditional academic essay. Throughout this essay I include detours that facilitate thinking with the zine.4 I aim to compose a hybridized body of essay and zine in order to interrupt expected notions of knowledge production traditionally performed in the academic essay. Two key themes will guide the critical analysis of my engagement as a participant and researcher in the zine archive: mess and the mundane. These two themes work together to constitute a politics of the everyday and the personal, and are reflected in daily activities, as well as opportunities for creative collaboration and production that challenge the hegemonic script of the traditional archive.



In her essay The Glitch Moment(um), glitch artist and scholar Rosa Menkman (2011) emphasizes this practice as an epi temology a erting “To think with glitch i to traddle a gap between non- en e and knowledge.” I introduce this here, because I wish to explore similarly in thinking with the zine. Rosa Menkman, The Glitch Moment(um), Network Notebooks 04 (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011), 66, http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/portal/publications/networknotebooks/no-04-the-glitch-momentum/. 5 Richard Pearce-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005), 76.

How do I begin to clarify the distinction between the traditional archive of dead thing and the “living” archive of dead things re-animated through touch and action? If an archive is a holding cell for material of memory – created by and through activity and movement – then how might the quarantining of these aging and decaying materials reinforce or contest dominant cultural norms? Now that I have created a space for the activities and sensations of the zine archive, how can I begin to show some of the activities that take place in these two spaces? If our own bodies signal human processes of aging, sweat, smells, and traces of our bodily functions how might we begin to think about which bodies are worthy of preserving? Which bodies are deserving of the best care? I encourage you to think of this with regards to the zine as a grotesque body, a body actively engaging in human processes, celebrating imperfections and the day-to-day experience. What makes materials in a traditional archive significantly more worthy of special care and attention, when they may be made up of the same material as a zine? Is it the content that gets inked into their surface(s) and who touches and creates these materials that holds them in higher repute? How does shielding these materials from human and environmental elements only prolong the promise of physical deterioration? To begin thinking through some of these questions, it i nece ary to examine the “living” archive in relationship to the modern archive. In the language of the vi ion tatement ZAPP define it prioritie a “ taining a ‘living’ archive of

past and current zines with the help of dedicated volunteers, allowing accessibility to the archive through public open hours, supporting zine writers by providing a workspace and promoting ZAPP locally, nationally and internationally as one of the largest collections of it kind.”6 Formerly situated in the basement of RHH, ZAPP relocated to the second floor of the House in 2007 after flooding made the

Richard H go Ho e “Zapp ” Richard Hugo House, n.d., sec. ZAPP Vision Statement, http://hugohouse.org/content/zapp.

space no longer a viable place for the collection. Currently it is in a room on the second floor adjacent to the Gary Room al o known a the member ’ library. In addition to maintaining a rich and exten ive collection of zines, comics, and independent publications, ZAPP also provides freely available workspace and inexpensive workshops to help build and grow the collection. With the exception of one paid part-time position, ZAPP is an entirely volunteer-run operation, gathering volunteers and interns with interests in literature, independent publishing, comics, music, Do-it-Yourself culture, and archives and libraries. ZAPP receives a significant amount of support from librarians, archivists, software developers, and is also an incubation space, fostering a homegrown interest in the library and archives profession based solely on the information-based work of the zine archive.

Zine the librarian


The building housing RHH was originally the site of the Bonney-Watson mortuary and funeral home, and wa

b eq ently

ed a a performing art

pace. The “ho e” part of Richard H go Ho e i

Wiki pace “Seattle Zine Librarian (Un)conference ” Wiki 2009 http:// eattle-zine-unconference.wikispaces.com/.

important to point out here, as many spaces within it have the feeling of being in a private, residential place often lending itself, perhaps unintentionally, to certain domestic dynamics. In addition to the volunteers and interns that make ZAPP work as a program of RHH, there is a committee that meets monthly to discuss issues and brainstorm ideas for advocacy and outreach. I also participated in this (Un)conference, co-presenting with Alycia Sellie on preservation and the anatomy of the zine. When talking about and referring to ZAPP a a “living” archive space and system of working with alternative media, it is important to clarify use of this term and how it distinguishes itself from its binary val e in the realm of archive in tit tion in the “modern.” While he doe not e the term

“modern” to describe the archive, Eric Ketelaar in tead highlight the “panoptical archive” a a y tem of rituals, surveillance, and discipline functioning to reinforce and perpetuate the power of the modern archive, going on to describe the experience of a patron visiting an archive institution:
In the search room, researchers have to keep silent, and they are under constant supervision. Some archives employ for this surveillance uniformed guards and closed circuit television cameras (as in the National Archive of Canada and the United Kingdom’ P blic Record Office): the tr e panoptical seeing without being seen. In most search rooms, the archivist on duty is seated on an elevated platform, from which he or he ha a panoptic view global and individ alizing of each and every ‘inmate’ of the earch room.8

Without visiting the space, an environment of control, disciplining, and surveillance can be gleaned from the protocol outlined through the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections website, which details what is impermissible in the main archive space, as well as what you may bring with you:


Eric Ketelaar “Archival Temple Archival Pri on : Mode of Power and Protection ” Archival Science 2, no. 3–4 (September 2002): 235.


Archive Industrial Complex

I seek to discuss these disciplining measures of the modern archive not to produce a binary relationship that privileges, from a personal perspective, the “living” archive space; rather, I seek to clarify these polarities in order to question the relationship between both the modern archive and the “living ” f rther problematizing the archive a a ite aware of and critical of it own “‘tacit narrative ’” performed through the professionalization of archivist roles in the production of the archive space.10 While ZAPP engages in imilar performance of the e “‘tacit’ narrative ” primarily produced through


Univer ity of Wa hington Librarie “U ing the Collection ” Special Collections, 2011, http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/research/using-the-collection ; Monroe Correctional Complex “MCC i it G ideline and Sched le” (Department of Correction March 23 2011) http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/mcc/docs/MCCvisitguidelines.pdf. 10 In a special two-part issue of Archival Science dedicated to the theme of “Archive Record and Power ” Joan M. Schwartz and Terry Cook emphasize the performance of professionalization in a totalizing and naturalized script of archivist practice. Seeking to gather together a erie of e ay conte ting the e “‘tacit narrative ,’” they assert that “[po tmodern] archival thinking requires the profession to accept that it cannot escape the subjectivity of performance by claiming the objectivity of systems and standards.” Terry Cook and Joan M. Schwartz “Archive Record and Power: rom (po tmodern) Theory to (archival) Performance ” Archival Science 2, no. 3–4 (September 2002): 176-177.

the long-time involvement of volunteer archivists and librarians, they cultivate an archive environment and system marked by tactility, creative production, homegrown versions of cataloging and database construction, and a space embracing of noise and mess. With this in mind, how do noise and mess, tactility and creative production disrupt the modern archives paradigm? How are these pleasures and personal enjoyments held and supported by the “living” archive an interruption of modern notions of professionalization and efficiency? The zine is an immediate cultural product emerging from creative collaboration and is an alternate method of knowledge production within the academy. Working in the zine format provides critical space for examining intersections between seemingly disparate elements: gender, sexuality, subjectivity, identity, and embodiment. It permits a process-based approach to creative collaboration that embeds and celebrates the sutures of the process. The archive holds a locus of power in the dominant culture, and it is not my intent to hold up the zine archive as an alternative, and therefore liberated model, but to think through this alternative model as a thinking space that exercises more consciousness around the function and responsibility of the archive.

I moved to the Pacific Northwest to take a project archivist position with the Special Collections Division of University of Washington Libraries – my first job out of graduate school. The archives project involved some of the routine action-based work of the archive: appraising, arranging, describing, and preserving the multimedia materials of the Henry M. Jackson Papers. While I worked exclusively on the media materials, I was told repeatedly by others on staff that this was a heavily used collection drawing researchers from around the world, and my role: to facilitate intellectual and remote access to previously unavailable media content within one year’ time. After organizing and describing thousands of photographs, hours of audiovisual content, and hundreds of campaign

ephemera, I knew more than I ever thought possible about senator and presidential hopeful Henry M. Jackson. Shaking hands, posing with children, delivering speeches, appearing on television programs, and visiting public works projects were some of the traces of a political life that served to flag the boundaries and behavior of American citizenship during the Cold War era. Supplemental to my graduate library and archives work was volunteer work in two community-based archives, Lesbian Herstory Archives and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, in New York City. I chose these archive sites because I was interested in the practices of grassroots archives and their focus on documenting and preserving the ephemeral materials of the GLBTQ community. During my year working with a pristine and organized political life, I tried to find traces of something messy, unkempt – something I could take pleasure in as a queer cisgender woman. It was not my ideal collection of materials to work with as a new archivist. Rewinding and closely watching a televised interview with Senator Jackson on his response to the personal outing of Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was particularly difficult.11 Working and handling the audiovisual materials of a life lived in service to the state began to stir ideas about archives as repositories for power.


“Tom Snyder Interview Senator Jack on on Campaign Topic ” D D Tomorrow (San Francisco, CA: NBC Television, September 23, 1975), Henry M. Jackson papers, University of Washington Special Collections.

Zineing a spotless life


I was trained in all the standards of archival practice and the preservation of historical materials: white gloves are to be worn at all times when handling visual materials, ideally each photograph should be encapsulated, collections should be protected from harmful environmental elements, housing for materials should be acid-free, storage facilities should be environmentally controlled.13 Despite this training, I worked in an offsite facility that was not temperature controlled and where processing activities were not monitored. I started off with the best of intentions. I took the practices, concerns,


“Senator Henry M. Jack on Str mming a Banjo and La ghing with the University of Washington Singing Quartet The Brother o r Who Are on To r in Wa hington D.C. ” Black and White Photograph 1963 Henry M. Jack on Paper . Accession no. 3560-31, Box 6/50, University of Washington Special Collections, http://content.lib.washington.edu/u?/jackson,185. 13 Edward P. Adcock ed. “I LA Principle for the Care and Handling of Library Material” (International ederation of Library Associations and Institutions, 1998), http://archive.ifla.org/VI/4/news/pchlm.pdf.

and paranoia of the professional archivist very seriously; the continuation of my professional career depended on it. I desired to emulate and act out the standards of the profession; I wanted to be actor in the scientific performance of material culture: pristine white gloves, large loupe, acid-free buffered file folders, and Hollinger metal edge storage boxes. The tools of care circulated in the ritual of the artifact. A photograph was physical evidence of a life lived and there was an order to it all, authored and patterned after the life of the creator. I wanted to follow the order of this with consideration for the life documented through these materials. I was performing the role of the professional archivist. I tried my best to comply with the standards of archival practice, but when no one else was around which was often - I shook off the white gloves onto my desk, cradling a photograph between my hands to get a closer glimpse of its glossy blacks, grainy greys, and crisp whites. The gloves were a clumsy barrier between my skin and the photograph, muffling my ability to touch and feel the materiality of the artifact. The gloves, folders, storage boxes, Mylar sleeves - in effect the technology of preservation and care - made the processing experience of my archives work seem scientific, clinical, objective, neutral. Through my careful actions in this role as archivist, I felt as though I was participating in the practice of adding value and permanence to a life. There was a science to this care for the object. Traces of a life lived were examined under a magnifying glass, handled by gloved hands that would leave no trace of presence. Taking the gloves off, I wanted to leave something behind, to interrupt this perfect life, and I wanted the realization to be present that the objectivity of the archivist is a myth.



Pearce-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, 317.

Perhaps I am the artifact.


I responded to a call put out on a listserv by the library and archives manager with Zine Archive and Publishing Project (ZAPP) in 2008. They were looking for someone to serve as an archives consultant for a local preservation grant. I met with the library and archives manager to get more information and find out the level of assistance needed. Following the staircase in the center of the house to the top floor, I found ZAPP just off the landing, situated in the heart of the building. Entering the space I could smell the decay of newsprint and highly acidic paper, and looking to the ceiling I saw homemade track lighting extending down each aisle composed of clamp-on reflector lights, mere inches away from shelved zines.16 The materiality of the zine archive was immediately present, looming just above my height, filling the space. Tall dark wood shelves laid with particle board crowded against the spotlight cast by the reflector lights. Zines were filed into cardboard magazine file boxes, lined up, spines
15 16

Photograph taken at the offsite archive processing facility where I worked my first year in Seattle, circa 2006. In my first week of an internship with a museum, the library director, upon entering the locked stacks of the collection, turned to me and asked, “Do yo mell that? That’ the mell of paper b rning.” The tack were nder contin o temperature and humidity surveillance, and much to the horror of the library director the space was subject to a faulty HVAC system, which was a source of unending frustration. It was an odor I began noticing upon entering libraries and used bookstores - the musty smell of piles of old paperback novels, decomposing wood pulp paper, dusty shelves. Librarians have been accused - by Nicholson Baker in particular - of overemphasizing the vulnerability of paper to decay and moving to microfilm as a stable preservation medium. Despite this critique, I have witnessed the vulnerability and decay of paper to harmful environmental conditions from extreme temperatures, as well as from natural sunlight and overhead fluorescent lighting.

pressing out as a series of staples, a thin, naked fold, or the narrow, flat strip of a perfect bind. Low pile carpet was underfoot throughout the space. Mismatched furniture and dining room work tables – one a light blonde, the other an unfinished dark wood – were tucked into the small niches of space available among the shelving, entreating visitors to make themselves at home and read or begin working on something. A large and small window at the back of the space let in natural sunlight. The last row of shelving facing the window was covered with a colorful bed sheet, standing in temporarily as a suitable substitute for shielding the collection from the damaging rays of the sun.


Librarians and archivists who collaborate and come into contact with ZAPP contribute in various ways to the archive, desiring to create a hybridized information management tool that will be accessible, yet comprehensively categorize zines so they are locatable in the archive space. The zine catalog/database, ZAPP-a-log, is one of the central projects of ZAPP behind the scenes, and follows the community-based efforts of the zine archive, as it a home grown catalog built entirely in SQL. This project emerges from and extends a larger conversation in the zine librarian community that is launching a larger volunteer effort to create a union catalog of zines to connect and distribute zines within these networks. The 2009 Zine Librarians (Un)conference held in Seattle took cataloging conversations as its primary concern in the zine library and archive community, holding caucuses and sessions on this very topic. The conference, hosted by ZAPP at RHH, coincided with similar concerns about cataloging zines and


Pearce-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, 30.

how to best represent these materials in a networked cataloging environment that would allow it to be malleable enough to be moved to different platforms.

Blog entry, August 16, 2011


Also talk about Zine Librarians listserv and Mapping Project. Through my work with zines, I have engaged in many intersecting conversations about gender, sexuality, identity, and embodiment, and yet, I find that outside of casual conversation, little has been


Heath R. Davi “Cata(b)log: Zine Archive a Hybrid Mon ter - Revolt. She Said. ” T mblr Revolt. She Said., August 16, 2011, http://revolt-shesaid.tumblr.com/post/9004449608/cata-b-log-zine-archives-as-hybrid-monster.

said or written about zines from the dual perspective of researcher and creator. Zines emerge from a place of creation and connection within social movements or in intimate, person-to-person encounters; they can then be collected or deposited in the archive, library, or special collections space. What is the archive and how do zines challenge the activities of this space? What is the function of zines in the archive? How do zines change the function and activities of the archive? How does the archive or the zine as a site for scholarly research change the function and activities of the scholar? The zine archive/library movement has gained momentum in the past few years, where zines are rapidly added to archives and special collections.19 In 2010 Kathleen Hanna, popular figure of the Riot Grrrl movement and band member of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, donated her papers including many zines to New York Univer ity’ ale Library; thi donation i expected to be followed by other in the Riot

Grrrl movement of the early to mid-1990s.20 Outside the academy, zine libraries and archives are situated in infoshops, dining rooms, coffee shops, independent bookstores, and other community spaces; many collect specifically within a focused demographic, such as zines produced by and about women (Barnard Zine Library), the queer community (Queer Zine Archive Project), and/or people of color (POC Zine Project).


When talking with people abo t my work I am greeted with one of two re pon e : “Are people till making zine ?” or “Zine ? Are tho e like blog ?” Zine - both creating and collecting - has experienced a resurgence in recent years. Zine archives and libraries have popped up throughout the United States and around the world. Festivals and small press book fairs - at which zines are always present - have emerged in major cities, drawing a crowd interested in the craft and handiwork of independent publishing. 20 Macy Halford “Q iet Riot ” The New Yorker: The Book Bench, January 12, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2010/01/quiet-riot.html.

Digital Mapping Project: Zine Libraries and Archives



Heath R. Davi “Zine Librarie & Archive ” Google Maps, 2011, http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl; John Berger, About Looking, 1st ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 58.

These are some of the questions I have been wrestling with in working with zines in an archive setting and as a trained archivist and librarian, as well as part of my own academic work. The ethical implications of working in an activist space that pulls together personal and collective narratives has forced me to reconcile an analysis distanced from the zine artifact to the action of my own creative labor which al o contrib te to the “living” archive a reprod ctive and regenerative movement. Researching in ZAPP is not like thumbing through a box of clearly labeled and meticulously arranged archival folder in a traditional archive. It’ more like ifting thro gh the detrit of yo r teenage p nk

rock i ter’ room to find her diary. There i definitely an order to everything, but you have to really let go of the demand that omething be where it ay it’ ppo ed to be. Ideally yo ho ld c ltivate a

pleasure for discovery. It is impossible to include everything in the archive; so many zine libraries and archives operate within specific collecting focuses or limit those materials that come into the space along lines of aesthetics and intent. It wa n’t ntil con lting and later vol nteering at ZAPP that I began to think of the archive as a “living” space and the zine as a way of thinking. I e the term “living” archive to de cribe ZAPP and distinguish

it from modern archive spaces. “Living” a ociated with the pace and collection at ZAPP i tied to a series of activities and way of operating and thinking in this practice. Through my involvement with ZAPP, I became instantly drawn to the anti-archive feel. Working in more formal archive settings in my past, I was simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the color neutral archival boxes, the white gloves, the temperature controlled and policed environment. The archives space at ZAPP turned that model on its head for me. ZAPP defines it elf a a “living” archive where the empha i i on ing the zine

collection as a site for research and inspiration, distinguishing itself from the traditional archive space that serves as a secure repository for important historical documents. I have had the opportunity to participate in workshops held in the space, as well as gallery shows featuring interns and volunteers

who have drawn from the collection to inspire and produce their own work. I can think of no one, including myself, unchanged by the experience of working with this collection of materials.


Email correspondence with Sara Rosa Espi, August 31, 2011


Pearce-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, 280.

Zine review from Muffmonsters on Prozac #3, Queer & Trans section, ZAPP


Ruth McCarthy and Terence McGaughey, Muffmonsters on Prozac, 3 (Belfast, Northern Ireland, Late 1990s).


Jill Rowbotham “Kim Carr Bow to Rank Rebellion over Journal Ranking ” The Australian: Higher Education, June 1, 2011, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/h igher-education/kim-carr-bows-torank-rebellion/story-e6frgcjx1226066727078.


Anna Poletti, Intimate ephemera : reading young lives in Australian zine culture (Carlton, Vicoria, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 30.

27 26

Ibid., 3.

Ibid., 111.



St art Nicol on “ anzine Enter Page of Hi tory ” BBC News (Scotland, February 25, 2009), http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_new s/scotland/7908705.stm.

Chri Atton “The M ndane and Its Reproduction in Alternative Media ” Journal of Mundane Behavior 2, no. 1 (2001): para. 1, http://www.mundanebehavior.org/i ssues/v2n1/atton.htm. 31 Chri Atton “What e i a Zine? Identity-building and social ignification in Zine c lt re ” in Alternative media (London: SAGE, 2002), 67.


Jenna Brager and Jami Sailor, Archiving the Underground, 1, 2011.

33 34

Ibid., 1. Ibid., 3.



“Derrida ” Wikipedia, August 18, 2009, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:De rrida_main.jpg.

36 37

Archive Fever, 2–3. Kim nk “Critical Nom ” T mblr Blog, Loud & Queer, n.d.,

http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tum blr.com/tumblr_l8e5htl3Fq1qdavgx o1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIA I6WLSGT7Y3ET7ADQ&Expires=1337 900903&Signature=Pgn7Q9OLQqVq kJbPJgFcUCmz7eE%3D. 38 Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge; and the Discourse on Language, trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith, 1st ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982), 127.

41 42 40 39

Stephen D ncombe “Abo t Me ” Stephen Duncombe, 2011, http://www.stephenduncombe.com /?page_id=2.

Stephen Duncombe, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (Bloomington Ind.: Microcosm Publishing, 2008), 22.

Ibid., 18. Ibid. 43 Kate Eichhorn and EOAGH “Three Poems by Kate Eichhorn: From ieldnote a oren ic ” Eoagh, October 5, 2011, http://eoagh.com/?p=482.


Kate Eichhorn “D.I.Y. Collector Archiving Scholars, and Activist Librarians: Legitimizing Feminist Knowledge and Cultural Production Since 1990 ” Women’s Studies 39, no. 6 (2010): 624. 45 Ibid., 625.


Kate Eichhorn “Site Un een: Ethnographic Research in a Textual Comm nity ” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 14, no. 4 (2001): 565–578.


Andy Miah “Br ce LaBr ce at Die Untoten ” Wikipedia, May 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Br uceLaBruce.JPG.



“The Wild Wild World of Fanzines: Notes from a Reluctant Pornographer ” in A Queer Romance: Lesbians, Gay Men, and Popular Culture, ed. Paul Burston and Colin Richardson (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 193.


Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge; and the Discourse on Language, 127.

Joe Mabel “J dith/Jack Halber tam ” Wikipedia, February 24, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jac k_Halberstam_03.jpg. 51 I understand Halberstam has adopted the name Jack and goes by both male and female pronouns; however, I will be using female pronouns when referring to Halberstam throughout this essay, as well as using the name Judith instead of Jack.


J dith Halber tam “What’ that Smell?: Queer Temporalities and S bc lt ral Live ” International Journal of Cultural Studies 6, no. 3 (2003): 322.


Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).


Ibid., 129.


Ordinarily I begin a zine workshop by asking everyone if they know what a zine is, if they have ever made one; however, I ask you - the reader - to define the body of the zine through “doing,” through creating. Zine is an action and an alternate way of producing knowledge. I challenge you to accept the defects and accidents of “doing” that take place through feeling and touching, cutting and tearing, adhering, finding something in the ruptured edges and jagged sutures. Materials you may/will need: Bristol board, sharpies, scissors, typewriter, pencils, pens, long arm stapler, glue stick, and other materials as desired. Exercise: Gather newspapers, magazines, paper from the recycling bin, old bills, candy wrappers, text from old books, articles on theory from graduate school, old letters, short notes, sheet music, screenshots of Facebook or Twitter - whatever you find that you would like to cut, tear, and suture into a zine.


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus (George Routledge and Sons, 1891), 201, http://books.google.com/books?id=YuUyAAAAMAAJ.

How can you engage in the practice of ripping, tearing, cutting, gluing, and creating to make these images and text your own? How might you write over and through the images and text selected to make it your own? How might your story overwrite these images and text? How can you interrupt the meaning represented in these materials?

tinny electronica spills out of laptop speakers tuned to Pandora. cups of coffee are situated just within reach, yet not so close they might spill and stain. clamshell take out boxes have been pushed to the side, half eaten food abandoned at this moment. several piles of images downloaded from the Internet are spread across the length and width of the living room table in varying states of being cut out from their white backgrounds. glue sticks are positioned upright and lying on their side, one rolls teasingly toward an edge. tiny crescents, whimsical tendrils, and almost imperceptible specks of paper litter the table surface. fragments of typewritten statements, cut out and shaped around the impression of the machined text, float in the unfixed collage of construction paper, Bristol board, markers, glue sticks, scissors, and images. articles and books mark out the boundary of this space, lines highlighted, pages flagged. a solitary floor lamp illuminates the gathering and ungathering of this scene. hands touch and cross, cut and suture. ink bleeds and stains. the sharp tip of a pen drags, scratches, and indents into the flesh of the zine. images are laid down, considered, repositioned, folding underneath and across, hiding and revealing. The zine starts here – from a place of collaboration, mess, and noise. It starts inside a house, a familiar and comfortable place that figures in my everyday life. It is the place where I sleep, eat, shit, piss, bathe, fuck, read, write, consume, and create. Domestic and interior spaces are a central and reflective force in my experience of zine production as media intervention. The collaborative and individual work emerges from an interior and personal space and pulling them together centers within domestic spaces – either a house and/or the ZAPP space.56 It is a private space where, in its narrow and marginal parameters, I have more than enough room to think with the zine.


Throughout this discussion of zine-making, I will be using and referring to Inversions: Bodies That Matter\Splatter, a collaboration between myself and Ari D. Roy that fosters intersections of sex/uality, gender, disability, queer horror films, and body modification/manipulation. Inversions, with its content and form, bring in conversations of hybridity and fragmentation, and have come to form my understanding and interaction with the zine as a form of alternative knowledge production. rom thi point forward I will be ing the collective “we” when talking about the Inversions zine, referring to the collaborative zine work of myself and Roy.

Anna Poletti cite the bedroom a the “mo t common ite of zine writing and con tr ction” and mess a the “phy ical intellect al and emotional o rce from which life writing in zine permeate the p blic phere.”57 Domestic spaces provide an important location for unraveling and discussing ideas for zines and are a site where messiness happens in the course of creation. Laying down images and text, writing into and across the content that appears there, I make the zine reflective of the very personal and unkempt environment produced by and part of myself. The zine body starts as a series of blank pages, flesh upon which ink, glue, images, text, drawings, and handwriting is laid down, into, and across. Composed of handwriting, typewritten text, stamps, fragmented images, and drawings, Inversions merges themes of disability and embodiment with queer horror films and issues of gender and sex/uality. It is an unkempt collision of conversations traditionally dismembered by discipline, where there is no existing cultural or knowledge production that brings these together – it is a being that must be created. Selecting images and text to be cut up and glued down, sutured along and underneath the feathered edges of violent removal, disrupts the separation of disability from monster discourses, sexuality, and the gender unintelligible body. Piecing together the zine body we wade into and among textual and visual representations littering our perceptual and physical space. Coming from the librarian/archivist perspective, my collaboration with zines had been focused on cataloging, which pushed me toward getting at what a zine was about and how to distinguish it from others like it. Zine production is a necessary action and format for alternative knowledge production in my own interventions in the academy. My collaborator and I turned to zines as a critical practice to use in conjunction with theory-based methods, and to actively engage in and create intersections in American culture. This format opened up possibilities for more open conversations and intersections

Poletti, Intimate ephemera, 108–109.

between our different interests, creating jagged sutures between seemingly different fields of interest. We have pulled from material of the everyday in our own work – newspaper articles, magazine images, quoted theory – bringing in conversations of monsters and the grotesque body to talk about sexuality and gender, disability and performance. We do not engage in zine making practice in order to create or make claims to a utopic vision of ourselves, the world, or the academy. The zine is not a liberatory space; nor is the zine solely a text of resistance, formed in and by oppressive forces. Instead, the zine occupies, in the words of Halberstam, “a hadow archive of re i tance one that doe not peak in the lang age of action and moment m b t instead articulates itself in terms of evacuation, refusal pa ivity nbecoming nbeing.”58 The zine, in this sense and in the way in which we engage with this anti-format format, lays out the periphery of a third space, one of refusal or failure. As a form of alternative knowledge production in the academy, we have engaged in this action-based moment of thinking, feeling, touching, and doing as a site of refusal and play. In the body of the zine we set down images and text, theory and personal statements, to play with, contest, and transform meaning. The physical and bodily involvement we have taken part in through the zine was recognized early on as connected to and part of the queer art of failure Halberstam articulates, where the thinking, feeling to ching and doing “t rn on the impo ible the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it imagines other goals for life for love for art and for being.”59 If sutures may be constitutive of an imperfect and grotesque body at a time that holds up perfection as an attainable and ideal goal, then Inversions lays bare error, stitches, and failure as third space for the doing of refusal. The aspect of quietly losing, of refusing, is essential to cultivating this third space of creative production, where the act of reading/looking calls on the reader to participate bodily in the alternate
58 59

Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure, 129. Ibid., 88.

imaginings of this doing. In hi e ay “Reading a poaching ” de Certa (1984) talk abo t the involvement of the body in reading and the “modern” experience erving to di tance the reader bodily from the text going on to tate “[thi ] withdrawal of the body which i the condition of it a tonomy is a di tancing of the text. It i the reader’ habeas corpus.” Distancing produced between reader and text is a central concern for me in thinking with the zine. Choosing to use or not use typewritten text, employing handwriting, using a font associated with closed captioning are all vital aesthetic moves that seek to involve the reader bodily in its movements.

What parts make up the hybridized body of the zine? Alycia Sellie’ Zine Anatomy singles out some of the standard characteristics of the zine: printing and binding techniques, typewriting, and stencils.60 She describes the function of this publication which i to “help identify the part of a zine name their printing techniques and provide information to the zine librarian about the manners in which their collection wa lovingly created by the hand of it zine ter mama.”61 Created in conjunction with the first Zine Librarian (Un)conference held in Seattle in 2009, Zine Anatomy provides valuable information for zine librarians who have to find a way to responsibly describe and catalog zines based on their material qualities. Sellie’ zine (and Stolen Sharpie Revolution from which she draws extensively) separates out the zine as a body that has its own markings and modifications identifying it as such. It emerges from the position of participant/creator, seeking to unravel some of the unanswerable mystique of the zine body.

60 61

Alycia Sellie, Zine Anatomy (Alycia Sellie, 2009), http://www.qzap.org/zinepdfs/resourcezines/ZineAnatomyFlats.pdf. Ibid., Cover.

In process: The marked body of the zine

Finalized: The reproducible body

Zine Anatomy outlines standard elements that mark and single out the zine among other types of published materials; however, I would like to delve below the surface and discuss some of my own processes of and approach to zine creation. I begin at the level of flesh. A zine master is the unmarked and unbroken skin upon which is laid down images, text, ink, and handwriting. I work into the flesh of the zine in Bristol Board – a material stiffer than photocopy paper and able to take marks and glue without buckling or marring content and imagery appearing on the other side. Bristol board was chosen as a material due to its resiliency and ability to serve as a template for the mass reproducible zine. It is the original from which a digital file is created, and multiple reproductions are made.

The long arm stapler is used to collect the different layers of flesh into a zine collective of its component pages. Two staples are positioned along the spine of the zine, holding the zine together bent at the middle, folding across and through images and text. The staple punctures the spine, invisible except here or in the center of the zine, curling through as four tiny silver claws, suturing the form in place. The pages are held together, drawing together these layers into a violent embrace.

The face of the zine is what brings in or challenges the reader. It is the most superficial layer, as it can be turned face up or turned over to look at the back, much as someone might look interestedly at a paperback in a bookstore. It says everything about what the reader will encounter in the meat of the pages. The back side is an important counterpart, offering up space for positionality, for related content, or for a continuation of the effects of the front of the zine.

Back side of Inversions

The zine body circles around the center of the zine. The center can be prime real estate in a publication and carrying with it particular gender and sexuality implications. A sweet spot usually reserved for pinups or images of nudes to be turned and displayed lengthwise – contrary to the orientation of the rest of a magazine publication – the centerfold was popularized and given mainstream currency by the popular magazine industry. The centerfold is the bellybutton of the zine, the axis on which the rest of the zine body twists and turns. It is also the connection to the creator where the mechanization of the stapler invades this space.

Trans/cending the center / fold

The modern archive i a ite for re earch and cholar hip prod cing “tacit narrative ” of care and preservation that center on a clean and orderly life. As I have stated previously, the zine shares characteristics of materiality with those statements/documents held at the national and local level in the modern archive. Recognition of the zine, centered in the marks and sutures that single out the grotesque from the perfect body, contribute to the zine as a separable body, as an identity, circulating in material culture. The zine is held in place by this recognition. On recognition as a means of giving an account of oneself, Judith Butler states
recognition becomes the process by which I become other than what I was and, therefore, also, the process by which I cease to be able to return to what I was. There is, then a constitutive loss in the process of recognition, a transformation that does not bring all that once was forward with I, one that forecloses upon the past in an 62 irreversible way.


J dith B tler “Giving an Acco nt of One elf ” Diacritics 31, no. 4 (2001): 23.

Using the very term zine can fix these materials, even when they actively attempt to resist being pinned down and categorized, in place. Their recognition in the zine archive takes place in a safe space that understands their function and production through the zine making activities of volunteers and interns in the space. The doing of touching and feeling negotiates the recognizing activities of the “living” archive.

Is this a zine?

While the zine might be a recognizable format in the realm of print media production, the zine also pre ent the po ibility of a malleable category; it i Halber tam’ third pace of imagining other goal situated in this third space between liberation and death. The question of what a zine is exactly carries fixed definitions, but how might something that does not index itself here also be a zine? Is a zine only that media format recognized as photocopied, typewritten, handwritten, cut, and pasted? Derrida refers to the promise of the archive and the movement and action of this container:
The question of the archive is not, we repeat, a question of the past. It is not the question of a concept dealing with the past that might already be at our disposal or not at our disposal, an archivable concept of the archive. It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise, and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times 63 to come. Perhaps. Not tomorrow but in times to come, later on or perhaps never.

Derrida, Archive Fever, 36.

While the zine archive participates in activities that contribute to the pastness of the zine, the doing, which is the action of the “living” archive creates space for the zine to be in movement. If the word zine is a container for what is/is not a zine, then how does this forgo what a zine can be in the future? Butler and Derrida highlight the act of becoming, identity, and knowing in process. I bring in these statements to build on the concept of the thinking archive, where Derrida sees this activity and concept as residing in the future, and place thi along ide B tler’ notion of fixing becoming in place and advocate – as I have throughout – for the archive as a movement, an action, a doing, an –ing and not an –ed. Given that zines are a way of thinking, and fix mess into the body of this format, allowing for active, off-the-grid production outside of professional and legitimized streams of mainstream media, it must be acknowledged how doing it yourself and doing it with others impacts the archive as a repository for hi torical tr th . Zine prod ction and tactility in the “living” archive pace carrie with it the po ibility of creating a thinking archive aware of and critical of its own movements and functions in relation to the zine body. Bodies create in this space, touching other materials in the collection as a way to know what is in this archive and breathe life back into their own zine work.

Loving is Doing


I have sought to intervene in the academic essay, taking certain detours to question and push the boundaries of the academic essay. I aim to create mess and noise in the academy and through a mundane technology of thesis production: Microsoft Word. My attempts are rooted in a desire to intervene in the traditional academic essay as an authorized form of knowledge production. I hope this will open up other forms of knowledge production and create a form allowing the reader to think through the academic essay in the same way in which my practice as a zine creator pushes the boundaries of knowledge production in the academy. The essay is already a thinking environment, but how might we reconsider traditional thesis production in relation to the space provided in the word processor? In order to think with the zine, you have to engage in the action of doing. I invite the reader to print out these pages and create your own intervention.


Dave Taco, How I Learned to Love Myself and Occasionally Other Men (Portland, OR, 2003).

Email correspondence with Sara Rosa Espi, March 21, 2012



Michel o ca lt “Of Other Space ” tran . Jay Mi kowiec Diacritics 16, no. 1 (April 1986): 27.

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