#smpcs18 zine-making assignment

Assignment Overview

But what are they? If asked to come up with a single defining attribute I would have to say this: zines are decidedly amateur. While this term has taken on a pejorative cast in a society that honors professionalism . . . the roots of amateurism are far more noble” amator, Latin for lover. While other media are produced for money or prestige or public approval, zines are done . . . for love: love of expression, love of sharing, love of communication. And in protest against a culture and society that offers little reward for acts of love, zines are also created out of rage.
Stephen Duncombe, Notes from Underground, 1997.

Piecing together the grrrl counterpublic is less an act of authorship in the conventional sense than an act of critical editorship. Grrrl zinesters selectively cut and paste the styles and genres of popular and alternative cultures and engage in writing as an intrinsically networked process of of both consumption and production.
Michelle Comstock, “Grrrl Zine Networks,” 2001

Reading these zines, flyers, and notes, you’ll see plenty of spelling mistakes, sharpie-marker redactions, gaps, rough edges, and last-minute additions. No one used spell-check, but no one cared. There was an urgency to get the message out that superseded perfection. This urgency represents the aesthetics and politics of riot grrrl….
Lisa Darms, from Introduction to The Riot Grrrl Collection, 2013

We somehow convince ourselves that in order to create something, it must be perfect otherwise there is no reason to be creating it in the first place. We become scared of our true thoughts and feelings and cannot fathom exposing our sacred selves to blank pages and strangers. Where did we learn this from? I suspect it is wrapped up in all the patriarchal bullshit that we are force fed our whole lives. But I’m here to tell you that this bullshit can and is overcome through the process of making zines.
Nyxia Grey, Overthrough the Status Quo, 2017

The Zine-Making Assignment has five primary goals:

  1. to provide you with the opportunity to gain a felt understanding of what it was like to use 1970s and 1980s-era communication technologies;
  2. to use the liberatory practices associated with zine-making;
  3. to begin the practice of remixing and mashup up content for your own purposes;
  4. to express your own unfiltered ideas about a social-justice-related topic that you care deeply about;
  5. to collaborate on the creation of a document that you will distribute by hand.

The assignment is informed by five Course Learning Objectives:

Objective 1. Communication Technologies
Students will develop and enhance their use of various analog and digital communication technologies for the purpose of creating media objects with specific rhetorical goals and for specific audiences.

Objective 2. Critical Awareness of the Social Role of Media
Students will understand the history and context of the role that media has played in society. Students will be able to articulate and critique the role media has historically played, and currently plays in society.

Objective 3: Effective Communication
Students will understand the principles and practices of effective media communication.

Objective 4: Reflection
Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and communication process.

Objective 5: Risk-taking
Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and understanding of digital media and participatory culture.

Assignment Specifics

In this assignment, students in their blog groups will create a collaboratively made zine focusing on their semester topic of choice. Consider your zine a call to action. Consider it the most important thing you have ever written about a subject of personal importance—and embrace the personal. Embrace why this issue matters to you, now, at this moment in your life and pour it in to what you create. Zines are artifacts of the self. Make your zine an extension of you, your thoughts, your desires, and your creativity.

Each group-made zine must adhere to the following components:

  1. A title that embodies the content of the zine
  2. A Table of Contents
  3. Brief author bios that showcase who each author is not based on their year in school, but what they believe about the topic being discussed
    1. Authors can use pseudonyms
  4. Collaboratively written zine manifesto that describes the call to action
  5. Employs a mix of hand-written and typewritten (that is on a typewriter) content
  6. Employs a mix of hand-written, typewritten (that is on a typewriter), and a Letraset for headlines
  7. Collaboratively created cover and back-cover pages
  8. Collaborative created pages 1 and 2 and final two pages
  9. Presented as collection of stapled 8.5 x 11 pieces of white paper folded widthwise
  10. A print-run of 30 total zines
  11. A distribution plan and proof of distribution

Within each zine, each student will create their own content that adheres to the following requirements:

  1. Create content that fills at least 6 pages (that is, THREE horizontal sides of an 8.5 x 11 paper)
  2. Employs a mix of hand-written and type-written (that is on a typewriter) content
  3. Employs a mix of hand-written, type-written (that is on a typewriter), and a Letraset for headlines
  4. Includes at least 500 words of original content (added 2/6/18 because was mistakingly left off the assignment)
  5. Employs zine cut and paste/tape creation practions
  6. Includes content appropriated from elsewhere
  7. Uses at least 5 different communication genres (see list below)

A Note About Content

Zines are spaces where authors should feel untethered to conventional communication norms (see, for example, Comstock, p. 395), including the origin of the content they use, the language they employ, the order in which things are present, the typefaces used, and the layout of a page. In other words, authors should feel comfortable writing what they want, in the language and vocabulary they want, in the styles or genres they want, while using any content they find elsewhere that they want. They have complete freedom to do whatever they want. As students creating zines, you have that freedom to. Do not hold back because you are creating this “for a class.” Take risks, embrace radical design, and see where you wind up

IMPORTANT: Save your drafts! And share digital versions of any group-related drafts you have a role in making. I will be asking you to include many of them in your final reflection statement.

Possible Genres

  • Autobiography
  • Confessional
  • Poetry
  • Essay
  • Humor columns
  • DIY or How-To
  • Journal/Diary Entries
  • Book/Film/Play/Television show/Restaurant reviews
  • Comics
  • Code switching
  • Interviews
  • Biography
  • Rants
  • Photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Collage
  • Cutouts from magazines, novels, stories, etc.
  • Narrative (short story)
  • Visual art
  • Text Blackout
  • Code Switching
  • others I haven’t thought of

Dates and Submission Guidelines

Important Dates

  • 2/6: In-class Zine Workshop with Katie Haegele and Joe Carlough
  • 2/8 & 2/13: Zine Creating in Class
  • 2/16 – 2/27: Typewriters and Letrasets set up in the Annex and/or Bronstein
  • 2/15: Zine Rough Drafts Due
  • 2/22: Zine Final Drafts Due

Due Dates

  • 2/20 2/15: Zine Rough Drafts Due
    • Bring to class 2 printed copies and your original of 4 complete pages on 2 sheets of paper
  • 2/27 2/22: Zine Final Drafts Due

Final Submission and Distribution Guidelines

to be added



Portions this assignment are informed by assignments created by Tyler B. Perry.

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