Queer Zines: Writing Identity

Here’s a proposal I submitted to the UCLA Queer Studies Conference in October.  I hope my project is accepted!

Across the globe, the power of print is in the hands of thousands of writers who self-publish.  Zines are non-commercial, small circulation magazines that artists create, publish, and distribute themselves.  Composed of diverse aesthetics, politics, and content, zinesters place more emphasis on defining the genre according to motivations for self-publishing and the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) ethic: zinesters create cultures that mindfully construct art and writing as a dialogue, participatory cultures that rebel against consumer-driven mass media. Within the remarkable diversity of zines, we find a community of writers, performers, and artists who wish to queer the boundaries of gender and sexuality in their art and writing as an expression of defiance of the hegemonic representation that erases, silences, and ignores the authentic realities of queers who live outside the binaries.  In this presentation, I will discuss the rhetorical and stylistic strategies used by queer writers and artists who create zines such as Clit Rocket, ShortandQueer, Tranzilla, and Holy Titclamps.  These zinesters are self-publishing not only to directly confront and subvert hegemonic gender and sexuality, but also to write new identities and ways of living that empower the zinesters themselves as well as their audiences.

Queer zinesters recognize that the hegemonic sign/value system does not correspond with the spectrum of queer realities; they resist the ways that the binaries and values embedded in language cannot accurately reflect their lives.  They recognize, to paraphrase Kristeva, that ideological revolution mandates a revolution in discourse, the creation of languages to correspond with new values. As queer zinesters find new ways of communicating that resist objectification and normalization, they use the performativity, the “do it yourself,” of language to construct texts that constitute queer realities through such literary and artistic techniques as allusion, pastiche, subversive appropriation, différance and deconstruction.

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~ by Angela Rhetorica on June 26, 2010.

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