Public Space ONE
Zines have a long and storied tradition as instruments of social and political change, as cultural relics, and as outlets for expression by underground or marginalized populations. The first zines in America arguably were the many political broadsides produced prior to and during the American Revolution, the most famous of these being Common Sense (1776) by Thomas Paine. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries authors, essayists and political activists rejecting or rejected by the mainstream media as it then existed self-published their own opinions and creative works (a famous literary example from Britain would be that of the Bronte siblings - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne - who as children wrote and "published" numerous stories of their imaginary literary worlds). Zines began to flower with the late 19th-century development of the "amateur press association" movement, in which groups of amateur printers obtained their own personal printing presses and created small magazines as products of their hobby.
Zines first really entered the cultural milieu as a specific and noticeable phenomenon in the 1930s, when the emerging science fiction fan community started creating "fanzines" as forums for their own stories and opinions on published and broadcast SF works. Fanzines became popular tools used by geographically disparate fans to communicate with one another before the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s. Zines are still primarily associated with science fiction fandom today because of their immense and ongoing popularity among fans. Special Collections has a number of collections consisting of fanzines and works of fan fiction from a number of different media properties.
The zine was taken up in the 1970s by the burgeoning punk music movement as a method of expressing its disdain for the mainstream music and social scenes. The punk movement favored a strong anti-establishment, anti-corporate music way of life, and members created zines devoted to bands and artists who shared their worldview and were overlooked by standard publications and media outlets. Zines became an additional way for punk music fans and artists to circumvent "the system". The popularity of zines was helped along during this decade by the advent of the increasing availability of cheap photocopying (and, starting in the 1980s, the personal computer). Following in the footsteps of punk, members of the emerging 1990s "riot grrrl" underground feminist movement - an amorphous melding of female-driven music, concern with the complexities of female identity, and a new consciousness of institutional, social and cultural sexism - adopted zines as forums for their own forms of self-expression. Riot grrrl zines often moved beyond the music itself and concerned themselves with feminist political and social issues such as discrimination, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and concerns over body image. Many zines are marked by stories of intensely personal experiences relating to these issues, which reinforce the traditional concept of the zine as a uniquely individual creation, a truly DIY (Do-It-Yourself) product born directly out of the author's personal vision and unmarked by editors, publishers, reviewers or any outside parties. Zines, although to some degree superceded by the arrival of blogs, continue to thrive today as methods of personal expression in print, and as places for exploration of new social issues, including environmentalism, consumerism, and globalization. Many, however, continue to devote themselves to more "traditional" subject matter - i.e. underground music, radical politics, or science fiction and fantasy fandom.