Events Calendar

Girls, Zines, and their Travels - Janice Radway

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
4:00 pm
FIMS and Nursing Building (FNB)
Room: Creative Commons (2nd floor)

"Girls, Zines, and their Travels: Imagining Lives, Crafting Archives for the Next Century"

Lecture presented by Janice Radway, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies; Director, Gender Studies; Professor, American Studies, Northwestern University.

Presented with the generous support of the Andrew Osborn Fund.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, the Department of English Studies and the Department of History at Western University.

Abstract: Descriptive and analytic accounts of girl zines have proliferated in the years since they first seemed to explode onto the public scene during the 1990s. Most of these accounts, whether in the mainstream press or in scholarly circles, focus on girl zinesters’ engagement with feminism and trace their origins to the Riot Grrrl movement, which is itself usually explained as originating in the activities of a small number of female-fronted bands that developed in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, however, research in the numerous zine archives that have been organized since the late 1990s suggests that girls and young women of the period actually took up the practice of zine-making and zine circulation for a range of reasons and in somewhat different contexts. They were also differentially aware of zines and alternative publications created by young women well before the 1990s. Drawing on extended research in these archives and accounts of key interview encounters with several people involved in crafting, collecting and writing about zines and Riot Grrrl, this paper will consider the question of what it might mean to take account simultaneously of the variability of girl zine practice and the fact that, despite such differences, significant numbers of girls and young women together gravitated to the zine form during this highly unsettled decade. What was it about the 90s in particular, and the specificities of the zine form itself, that incited young women not simply to more public forms of self-expression but to the social activity of seeking out contact with others beyond familial and local friendship circles. This presentation will argue that girls turned to zine-ing as part of a struggle to re-imagine subjectivity and sociality in ways that were more fluid, porous, and collaborative than the models recommended by older forms and institutions like the novel, the school, the bourgeois family, and even the magazine. Ultimately, I will suggest that girl zine-ing ought to be seen as an analog effort to envision a different way of ordering social relations and that, as a result, it can tell us a great deal about the sources and meanings of the desire we now call “social networking.”

Faculty of Information and Media Studies
FIMS Communications

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