My Life is an Open Book

Part of the underground movement established in the punk cultures of the 1970s, zines developed as an outlet for those on the outside of mainstream culture to express themselves.  Zines continued to be significant forms of expression in the punk cultures of the 1980s and 1990s; today zines provide an important platform for authors — or 'zinesters'— working within a distinct genre.

Zines are typically self-published, which allows for a broad range of topics, uncensored accounts, and self-expression generally not found in edited and commercially-packaged publications. Politics, music, and autobiography are standard topics. 'Perzines' (personal + zine), as autobiographical zines are known, form an increasingly large percentage of contemporary zine publishing.

Women zinesters became prominent in the 1990s as part of a feminist punk rock subculture known as riot grrrl; women continue to be an integral voice in the zine community. Drawn from a developing collection housed in the Special Collections Research Center, the zines on display in this exhibition are primarily perzines produced by women, representing the 1990s to the present day.  Topics range from extremely frank accounts of physical and psychological trauma to playful pictographic series. Additional materials outside the zine genre have been selected to provide some historical context to these do-it-yourself autobiographical works.

This exhibition appears concurrently with two Chicago zine-related events. On March 8-9, 2013, the fourth annual Chicago Zine Fest takes place at Columbia College Chicago. And on April 6, 2013, the Caxton Club/Newberry Library Symposium on the Book presents "OUTSIDERS: Zines, Samizdat, and Alternative Publishing,"exploring the world of the alternative press with experts from around the country.

Exhibit Publications & Documents

Exhibit Text

Exhibit Checklist