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Visualizing Identities - Visit from the Barnard Zine Library

This guide accompanies Barnard Zine Librarian Jenna Freedman's visit with Aimée Bessire's Visualizing Identities class at Bates College


front and back of Bystander Intervention & De-escalation zine by Eleanor WhitneyListen to understand, rather than to respond.

See class guidelines.

Zines Are

Barnard Definition

A zine, short for fanzine or magazine, is a DIY* subculture self-publication, usually made on paper and reproduced with a photocopier or printer. Zine creators are often motivated by a desire to share knowledge or experience with people in marginalized or otherwise less-empowered communities.

Zine Quotations

I think of my zine like a trashy celebrity gossip magazine, where I am the only celebrity and instead of journalists gossiping about me, I'm gossiping about myself. Where else would I be allowed to talk about myself for fifty straight pages? I am a young Arab-American female, and in a world where no one else cares what I have to say, this feels really good.

No Snow Here, #9. [2005] [first page] Detroit, Michigan. 

this is another
overreactive feminist poem.
now u can dismiss it
cuz you've heard it all before.
it's so cliché, so passé
it's all the same.
stop reading this now.
it's not valid cuz it's all stolen
cuz my pain is not my own.
this is a waste of time
all my anger doesn't matter to u.
but what should i expect?
i'm an overbearing bitch.
forget u read this.
continue to ignore it.
declare me --girl--
and throw me away.
don't even try to understand.
feminist self-righteousness.
that's what this is.
femayl anger
doesn't matter
cuz we make it up anyways.

Bianca Ortiz. Mamasita #3. 1995. upaginated.

 "P.S. I'm not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. I do this sort of writing to help me make sense of things. If you find this self-indulgent or trite then screw you. If you actually get something out of my ramblings then that's awesome. It takes a lot of courage to put this stuff in a zine and I just wanted you to know that."/p>

Patti Kim. "Boo Hoo Hoo." Fuzzy Heads Are Better, #5. unpaginated. June 1997.

I believe the underground press does matter--if only to give consensus reality a swift kick in the butt every now and again. I can read things there that I can read nowhere else: dissenting opinions on this country's misguided war on terrorism, reviews of interesting old books, advice on how to live auto-free, vegan recipes flavorful enough to please my mother. Of course, I admit there's a large dose of clichéd adolescent angst and enough third-rate William Burroughs sound-alikes to fill a small museum, but hey, you have to take the so-so with the excellent. And if enough of us insist on coloring outside the lines, and do it with style and flair, maybe we'll get to redraw the picture.


There's a vitality in the underground that is sometimes lacking when a writer is self-consciously trying to produce high art.


Corny as this may sound, [zines] give me a small bit of hope for humanity. At least I know that sometime somewhere someone had enough inner resources to stop watching TV and create something on their own. It's good to know there are still people out there who are alive.

Etidorhpa #7 "Arguments in My Head." From the Zine/No Zine article.

Do any of these quotations inspire your thinking on your own zine?

Everyone share a word or phase that you associate with zines at this point in your experience with them.

Sillywish #5

Spend a little time skimming the zine and responding to prompts. Five minutes?

Any comments or questions?