About the Exhibit

About The Exhibit

Zines and the Political Process | Exhibition History

Zines and the Political Process

Zines by nature are political. According to Hillary Clark of the zine culture magazine, broken pencil, Putting out a zine, any zine, is a political act. Whether it's the high school kid who does a zine about Sloan, or the collective's newsletter advocating environmental awareness, both are reclaiming what was essentially theirs to begin with. Simply expressing your voice and opinions through an alternative publication like a zine is a political statement, because, when individuals start recognizing and seizing their place in the discussion, rather than merely consuming whats dropped on their doorstep, its not radical, its a restoration of the printed word as it was meant to operate. And the printed word has always been political.

Some zines take participation -- or refusal to participate -- in politics as a theme or guiding idea, using self-published pages as a means of giving voice to challenges and resistance to the political process. The zines in this collection are only the latest incarnation in a long history of political protest through small-run and alternative publication. According to Fred Wright, a zine scholar, political zines of today, hearken back to other, older self-publishing ventures of independent spirit and vitality such as American broadsides from Revolutionary days, Russian Samizdat material, Dada and other avant garde art and social movements' magazines and manifestoes, and beat poetry chapbooks. Whether calling colonialists to arms in the days of the American Revolution or subverting censorship and challenges to free speech in Soviet Russia, zines and alternative publications are a natural and important tool for preserving free speech on matters of politics and power.

From Thomas Paines incendiary proto-zine, Common Sense, to todays radical zines, self-publication has been a vibrant mode of political protest for since the invention of the printing press. From the Republican National Convention to the presidential election, from deciding to take your child to a political rally to challenging politicians to be responsible to their electorate, the zines from Barnards collection featured here provide a glimpse into the political struggles of our times.

For more information, check out: Clark, Hillary. Photocopied Politics: Zines (re)Produce a New Activist Culture. Broken Pencil #6.

Wright, Fred. The History and Characteristics of Zines. 1997. Available: http://www.zinebook.com/resource/wright1.html

About the Election and Protest-Themed Zines Exhibition

Inspired by the Barnard Center for Research on Women's thirty third Scholar and Feminist Conference, "The State of Democracy: Gender and Political Participation," Spring 2008 Zine Intern, Julie Turley, created this collection of election and protest-themed zines selected from the Barnard Library Zine Collection. The physical exhibit, which lives in the library's lobby, features copies of selected zines from Barnard's archival collection as well as photocopied selections of relevant pages and extracts. You can read more about the original exhibit by visiting our livejournal.

For this online exhibition, covers and selections were scanned and digitized for preservation. The work was begun in 2008 by Zine Intern, Melissa L. Jones. Because Melissa is a veteran NYC public school educator, she also worked to write the lesson plans and curriculum support materials.

If you're interested in reading more from these zines, you can use CLIO to check their circulation status. Or come to the Barnard Library and ask for help at the reference desk!

Barnard/Columbia students can come to the library and check out zines any time. Folks from outside the Barnard/Columbia community should email the zine librarian, or check your local distro to find out how to get copies of the zines featured here.