Teaching Zines as Primary Sources

Notes from Teaching Zines as Primary Sources session at ZL(u)C 2016, Boston

Proposed by team working on a course called Beyond the Riot being taught in the Pioneer Valley this fall (?). Collaboration between librarians and faculty at Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith.

Looking at working with zines as object of study vs. classes where creating a zine is the end project.

Zine applications in other institutions

  • Making zines in reaction to Baltimore unrest (bought them for the library) at MICA, using The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: a Teen Epistolary zine.
  • Medical narratives prof at Barnard using zines to study alternative voices/points of view
  • Austin Fanzine Project – enabling historical research by indexing and mapping the zines (with help from iSchool capstone students, one of whom created an audio tour, linking music to the map)
  • making zines with sexually exploited youth as a means for communicating
  • Girlhood class at Lesley. Students work with middle school girl exploring zines like body image. Students make zines to share with tweens.
  • Working with diaries, which used to have less of a culture of privacy.
  • EMOPS (? Early Modern…) OCR project at A&M
  • going to door-to-door with suitcase full of zines (Simmons)

Music seems like a way to get students into a 1990s mindset.

Details about the class

  • managing archival work
  • visualize, interpret, and analyze
  • application to get into the class, oversubscribed
  • students already know about zines, may make them (or their dads made a zine)
  • student interest in archives as much/more as zines
  • students in some of the five colleges are already steeped in archives work
  • focus on how collections in the Pioneer Valley came to be: who is in the collections, what stories are documented, how to think about absences
  • archives are the object of the project, not so much a “what was happening in the 1990s” class
  • potential topics, things like mental health
  • “blended learning” grant funded
  • annotation exercise, working with pages from a historical zine
  • network mapping
  • visualize what’s in the collection and what isn’t
  • ethics of digitzation
  • discussion about encountering zines digitally vs. in print
  • how to do feminist digitization
  • raising awareness for local collections
  • how to engage with the collections by doing something other than a digitization project
  • class for undergraduates

Interest in

  • Using zines to explore zines as an entry point to various disciplines as an alternative to normative (cis, white, male) viewpoints. How to do outreach to non-zine communities
  • means of communicating about sexual health issues with women of African and Haitian descent (things like fibroids, vs. STIs). Focus was on being together and creating, rather than on disseminating the work. Experience of being an expert, sharing their expertise.
  • how to overcome librarian quandary of sharing information without being obnoxious about it.
  • how to get a professor interested in working with zines – contextualize them in the professor’s work, e.g., connect to Boston Women’s Health Collective – sell as tool for working with anti-oppression materials
  • Should we create a journal?
  • Talk about the zine librarians code of ethics
  • Talk of legitimizing zines (but they’re already legitimate!)
  • How do you integrate zine collection in the context of your other holdings?
    • ¬†UT interfile zines with the rest of the art
    • Wellesley faculty motivated to explore teaching with zines, based on an interesting assignment (something more interesting for prof to grade)
    • Barnard open stacks, part of the library catalog, intellectually related to collection policy wise
    • Hampshire – youth expression marginalized, showed high school zines as alternative form of youth media. Youth studies. Zines an alternative to being talked down to.
  • Learning is different in analog vs. digital. BRAINSTUFF.