Zines in Classrooms: Good or Bad?

Picture from SouLar Bliss
  1.   According to the YouTube video,What Is A Zine? by Nua Zines Submissions, “a zine is a small printed publication often made with fewer than about 500 copies of each issue.”
  2.   Zines have been around for a very long time. They can be traced back to the 1930’s, when people wrote short sci-fi stories (though the term zine didn’t exist just yet).
  3.   In the 70s and 80s, punk zines became fairly popular in the community. These zines had a grungier DIY aesthetic.
  4.   In the 90s, zines gained popularity with the Riot Grrrl Movement. The Riot Grrrl scene was an alternative to the male-driven punk world. This scene/movement encouraged females to let their voices be heard by making music and creating zines. Bands like Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, etc., led the movement. Many of these bands also had their own zines.
  5.   Today, zines have become way more diverse. In fact, because of the internet, the production of zines can cost zero dollars. Zines are also still being sold in person at zine fairs.
  6.   Zines were once mainly about sci-fi and punk. However, in today’s world, the topics have become a lot more diverse. Zines can be about anything. They can go from feminism to home life to plants.
  7.   Because zines have been around for a very long time, and they follow different movements and culture, they are now seen as historical documents. This has led to a lot of universities having their own zine collections. There are even independent zine libraries around the world.
  8.   The beauty about zines is that they are independently created. Therefore, the creator has freedom to make their zines about anything they want and they can make them look however they want.
  9.   According to the article, “Why Diverse Zines Matter: A Case Study of the People of Color Zines Project” by Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, “what unifies all zines is the fact that they are independently produced, written, and designed, and that they exist outside, or on the fringes of, the mainstream. Thus, they often cover issues that are often ignored, or overlooked, by the mainstream media.”
  10.  American folklore and Zines have one thing in common, and that is that they both tell stories. They tell stories about people for the people.
  11.  According to, What is Folklore? folklore is complex and it isn’t define in just one way— “in part, this is also because particularly folklorists emphasize particular parts of characteristics of the world of folklore as a result of their own work, their own interests, or the particular audience they’re trying to reach.”
  12.  Zines are a niche medium and because they run in a small circulation they usually only target a very specific topic or group.
  13.  What would be the role of a zine in a classroom?
  14.  When one thinks about a zine, one sees them as an anti-institutional medium. Therefore, many zinesters don’t like the idea of zines in classroom settings. According to the article, “Cut, Paste, Publish: The Production and Consumption of Zines” by Michele Knobel & Colin Lankshear, some zinesters believe that if zines are incorporated into a classroom setting that they will, “become domesticated within the classroom so that the zines are produced according to the teacher’s vision and purposes, rather than according to the grassroots, personal motivations of authentic zines.”
  15.  However, zines are becoming more known in our society. In fact, many zinesters like the idea of adding zines into classrooms.
  16.  Some professors don’t like teaching in classrooms. According to a professor at Brooklyn College, (who for the purposes of keeping his identity out of the lime line, will go by the name, the anonymous professor) said, “Unless you are learning a scientific discipline, keep away from classrooms if you possibly can. Do not attend classes on literature, or on writing. They will do you no good, and may do you substantial harm.”
  17.  Classroom settings can be boring, which often makes learning and capturing the material being conveyed, a hard task.
  18.  Zines are fun short, and often an eye-grabber, because of the way they look.
  19.  According to Empress Animal, a zinester from Texas, “Zines would be great for the classroom as zines help foster creativity. From choosing content, to its execution, the possibilities are truly endless. No two students could create the same zine; each student would choose content based on which points resonate with them most.”
  20.  According to the article, “Teachers, Folklore, and the Crafting of Serrano Culture Identity in Peru” by Javier Garcia Liendo, “folklorization refers to the process by which certain forms of local cultures were conceptualized and promoted as folklore. This concept emphasizes the fact that folklore is a constructed notion or an “invented tradition” (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983), the result of selecting, manipulating, and combining aspects of a traditional (rural or urban) culture with elements of other cultures. Transformed into folklore, local cultures acquired new status and value as “art.” Nevertheless, folklore was not just the result of “a plain and simple manipulation and stylization,” but also a space where different social and cultural groups convened and where identity disputes were settled (Mendoza 2008, 6–8).”
  21.  Empress Animal says, “Zines offer a great opportunity to learn through teaching. Sharing these tools can show students however different several people can view a single topic, leading to class discussions and tolerance for others opinions.”
  22.  The beauty about zines is that they get straight to the heart of a topic. They get their point across in 1 2 3. They are often short and sweet (like memes [LOL]).
  23.  Because classrooms tend to be linear and teachers do what they are told, classes and learning becomes less fun for some people. Therefore, to make a classroom setting fun, and learning an enjoyable experience, sometimes unconventional things must be done. Why not start by bringing zines into classrooms?
  24.  Empress Animal says, “Knowing there really is no way to mess up, students who may be intimidated by other learning activities could thrive as they gain confidence. Possibly leading them to do better with more traditional learning methods as well.”
  25. “I have been teaching in classrooms for almost 50 years, and I spent much of my 15 or so years of ‘education’ in them as well. At college I managed to avoid them after the first year. The professors simply read their books aloud to the students, and if I’d wanted to know what they were saying I could have bought or borrowed the book, or taken it out of the library.” –The Anonymous Professor
  26.  Listening to a professor talk in a monotone voice for an hour is boring. Why not do some hands on work? Why not learn in a more creative and fun atmosphere?
  27.  According to Ezra Ercolini, a zinester from Boston, based in New York, says, “For me, discovering zines in college opened my eyes to how I could expand my work and reach more people. By using them in an educational sense, they could be beneficial to users by allowing them to become more knowledgeable in a topic, as well as show them that they can create too.”
  28.  Folklore has taken a more fun approach to telling stories and proverbs. Now memes are seen as folklore. According to the article, “LOL and the World LOLS With You: Memes As Modern Folklore” by Lynne McNeill, “when folklorists call a cultural form traditional, we mean simply that it’s a form that is passed on, through the informal folk network of person-to-person communication. The informality of this network is what gives folklore its other main defining characteristic: that of being variable, of having no single correct version. As it moves through a population, folklore changes each time it’s shared —sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly — making it a widely available, culturally salient platform for communication.”
  29.  Zines are a great way for communicating with others and getting a point across. It can spark interesting conversations which can liven up a classroom of sleepy students. It would make learning fun and students might actually want to go to class. It might even help those students who are quiet and shy become more involved in class. Not only will zines target bookworms, who learn in a more traditional setting, but it will also target those who are more creatively inclined.
  30.  “On a more general note, zines are an incredible platform for creativity and are possibly the most accessible platform out there, as anyone and everyone can make a zine about absolutely anything. Letting young people know zines exist (I had no idea until about 9 months ago) and that they too can create one in their bedrooms overnight gives them a reason to make and express.” –Mia Maxwell, a zinester from London.
  31.  “I have been told that one of my zines was actually brought into a classroom. The Magic of Mail zine to teach kids about the postal service. I thought that was awesome.” –The Monster Ducky Press
  32.   “I think using zines in classrooms is a fantastic idea. We spend so much of our childhoods being taught that “this is the way you must do it” and “no, you’re doing that wrong”. I think it would be fantastic on a number of levels at many ages to have the experience of creating something that doesn’t have one or even just a few ways of doing it and yet still remains within the comfort of having a name and a community. I think it speaks volumes how many zine creators today will tell you that they were making zines before they’d ever heard of the word ‘zine’. (Count me as one.) So, to put it much shorter, I think there are many benefits to be explored in regards to zines in classrooms.” –Nyx, a zinester/writer from Australia.
  33.  “I think using zines in a classroom setting is a brilliant idea! Since most zines are usually centered on a central theme or topic, it can be easy to learn a lot about a subject (and a person!) from someone who dedicated their time to curate pages and capsulize something in their own creative way. Even zine workshops could be a great learning tool for some! The subject matters that students feel are important to them as an individual can then be shared with others visually and creatively–and can potentially start a dialogue in their own communities. And can you imagine the creative freedom it will give students to explore and feelings of accomplishment when they can hold a finished product in their hands for the world to experience??” –Angela Juarez, a zinester based in Portland, Oregon.
  34.  I myself have created a zine called, Weirdo Brigade, where we talk about the things that are ruminating in our minds. Our zine is meant to sort through our thoughts and feelings, while relating to those who feel confused, lost, and are plagued with anxiety. I personally have done poorly in school because of my anxiety. This has led me to sometimes run away from my school responsibilities. Zines have given me a purpose in life. It makes me feel good about myself and it makes me feel like I’m helping others who, like me, are plagued with anxiety. The reason why I believe zines (without changing its unconventional way) would be a good addition to a classroom is because they spark creativity, conversation, it makes people feel good, and in the process they teach. They can also serve as a way to help us understand one another a little bit better.  
  35.  Zines in Classrooms: Good or Bad?

Note: I weave information about zines into this essay, alongside folklore scholarship that questions how certain cultural traditions might be altered by (or might alter) the institutions they enter. This is done on purpose to show how zines might possibly alter classroom settings (or be altered by classroom settings).

An essay written à la Bluets by Solansh Moya

Check out the Zinesters

Empress Animal:
Instagram @EmpressAnimal
Website-  www.etsy.com/shop/empressanimal

Ezra Ercolini:
Website- emily-ercolini.squarespace.com/

Mia Maxwell:
Instagram @femzinelondon
Website- www.femzine.bigcartel.com

The Monster Ducky Press:
Instagram @themonsterducky
Website- www.etsy.com/shop/themonsterducky

Jamie Nyx:
Instagram @seagreenzines
Website- https://seagreenzines.com/

Angela Juarez:
Website- www.angelajuarez.com/bullyfreezone

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