Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Degree Program

Art (Creative) and Art History with a concentration in Critical and Curatorial Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Reitz, Chris

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hufbauer, Benjamin

Committee Member

Hufbauer, Benjamin

Committee Member

Kienle, Miriam

Committee Member

Yates, Joey

Author's Keywords

zines; twenty-first century


This thesis is an analysis of twenty-first century zines as markedly different from their predecessors. The twenty-first century zine is often framed as a continuation of the punk zines from the late twentieth century, this thesis disagrees and argues for the classification of the twenty-first century zine as a unique form of culture that has evolved from the punk zines of the 1980s and 90s. The thesis is divided into five chapters in which the twenty-first century zine is analyzed using specific examples. Chapter one begins with an introduction of the zine, defining the object based on its social consequences in relation to the production of media and culture. The zine is defined by its alliance with participatory culture, it’s participation in Walter Benjamin’s progressive culture, and in defiance of bell hooks’ and Riane Eisler’s dominator culture. Chapter two analyzes the zine’s position within the intersection of art and media, establishing the zine as a valid art object with Dadaist precedents, participating in critical discourses with art institutions, and as a tool for minority groups to “disidentify” with a phobic majoritarian culture. Chapter three addresses the importance of materiality in the twenty-first century zine as something that is uniquely important to the object. For the first time ever, the physical zine is an inconvenience to makers and collectors, yet it persists as an anachronism in a digital age. The importance of this materiality is examined as it pertains to an essential understanding of the object’s content, an extension of the human, and the technological reproducibility of the zine. Chapter four examines the zine as a tool for radical social justice, analyzing its role centralizing decentralized communities, in correcting misrepresentations, and creating safety in print for minority communities to express their thoughts and opinions without fear. Finally, chapter five concludes the thesis by establishing the enduring legitimacy of the zine and why it matters, arguing that the zine is an enduring example of bell hooks’ “pedagogy of hope” that combats deeply ingrained cynicism.