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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to Zines

This is a starting point to learn about zine history, finding and researching with zines, incorporating zines into the classroom, and making your own zines!

Why Use Zines in Research?

  • Zines are primary sources. This means they provide personal insight into the experiences, thoughts, and feelings surrounding a moment in time or a particular event. Insight is especially important in regard to social justice issues!
  • Zines highlight underrepresented voices and are more inclusive of marginalized and oppressed communities when compared to the mainstream media and large publishers.
  • Since zines are not limited to a particular standard, there are zines on topics not covered by mainstream media and large publishers.
  • By not fitting into specific guidelines, zines can portray the uncensored truth of real world issues.
  • Using sources like zines "challenge the easily digestibly mainstream media" and encourage us to ask critical thinking questions about the origins and agendas of all sources (Amy Wan, "Not Just for Kids Anymore: Using Zines in the Classroom.").

Read More about Zines

Zine Assignments

If you are an instructor or faculty member considering a zine assignment in your classes, here is a collection of examples from other universities!

Pros and Cons of Zines in the Classroom

Before incorporating zines into your curriculum, it is important to recognize the impact the lesson will have on the students.

In the article above, Daniela Capistrano, founder of the POC Zine Project, urges educators to ask themselves the following questions:

  1. Why do I care about introducing zine-making and zine culture to my students? What relevant information should I be sharing with them about zine culture and history — and how do my own privileges inform how I prioritize this information?
  2. Does it make sense for me to only talk about zines made by white people to a classroom full of primarily students of color?
  3. Is it really necessary for me to grade the zines—can they simply get a pass or fail based on completing the assignment?
  4. What am I leaving out of my retelling of zine history that is silencing and oppressive to my students of color? 
  5. If I don’t have much information about zines by people of color, what steps will I take to educate myself BEFORE introducing zines to my students?