Teaching with Zines


What are zines?
"...zines are noncommerical, nonprofessional, small-circulation magazines which their creators produce, publish and distribute themselves." - Stephen Duncombe, Notes from the Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture

Why teach with zines?
"Zines...challenge the easily digestible mainstream media. They can open students' eyes to other outlets for information, showing alternate sources and forcing students to see how the accessible information that is often just taken for fact also has origins and agendas." - Amy Wan, "Not Just for Kids Anymore: Using Zines in the Classroom."

Zines and other alternative and underground publications can be used as teaching tools for learners from kindegarten to college. There are zines on just about any topic you can think of, from feminism to sports to politics to cooking. When choosing zines for use in your classroom, think carefully about your student's reading level and the subject matter of the zine. Let students explore zines and their history, and you can teach just about anything, including: English Language Arts, Media Literacy, Art, Social Science and History and even Math and Science!


Lesson Plans

(to be used in conjuction with Barnard's Election and Protest online exhibit)

The following lesson plans were developed for three different levels of ability, but each lesson plan could be used in any classroom with the appropriate modifcations. Select the lesson plan that best fits your students, or download all three and create your own unit to suit your needs. Each lesson plan was originally developed by Melissa L. Jones, MS Ed, MS LIS, based on her expertise as a public school educator.

Lesson A - What is a zine? What is the value of protest?
Content Areas: English Language Arts, Information Literacy
Level: Intermediate, Grades 7-9

Lesson B - Why zines? How can those outside the mainstream get their voices heard?
Content Areas: Media Literacy, Information Literacy
Level: Secondary, Grades 10-12

Lesson C - How do systems of power repress voices of dissent?
Content Areas: English, History, Political Science, Information Literacy
Level: 12th Grade or Early College


Suggested Resources


Block, Francesca Lia and Hillary Carlip. Zine Scene: the Do it Yourself Guide to Zines. Lost Angeles, CA: Girl Press, 1998.
Duncombe, Stephen. Notes from the Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. Verso, 1997.
Watson, Esther Pearl and Mark Todd. Whatcha Mean What's a Zine? Graphia, 2006.


Bott, Chiristie. "Zines - The Ultimate Creative Writing Project," English Journal, 92, no. 2 (2002): 27-33.
Congdon, Kristin G. and Doug Blandy. "Using Zines to Teach about Postmodernism and the Communication of Ideas." Art Education. (May 2003).
Daly, Brenda O. "Taking whiteness personally: Learning to teach testimonial reading and writing in the college literature classroom." Pedagogy. vol 5 no. 2 (Spring 2005): p 213-246.
Guzzetti, Barbara J. "Zines for social justice: Adolescent girls writing on their own." Reading Research Quarterly. 39, no. 4 (2004): 408-36.
Sellie, Alycia and Kate Vo Thi-Beard. "Using Zines to Encourage Multiple Literacies," Wisconsin English Journal. v. 47, n. 2. (Fall 2005): 27-33.
Wan, Amy J. "Not Just for Kids Anymore: Using Zines in the Classroom." Radical Teacher. April 30th, 1999.

Web Resources

Freedman, Jenna. DIY Publications and Media Literacy: Zines in the Classroom. Symposium on Media Literacy in Education Conference. Bowling Green, OH. June 2005.
Holdaway, Matt. "A Student's Guide on Zines and Tips on How to Make One."
Williamson, Judith. "Engaging Resistant Writers Through Zines in the Classroom." The Zine and E-Zine Resource Guide. 1994.
Wright, Fred. "The History and Characteristics of Zines." The Zine and E-Zine Resource Guide. 1997.
"Zines 101." Zine World Website. June 2007.