My Life is an Open Book: D.I.Y. Autobiography

Curated by André G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for Literatures of Europe & the Americas.

A significant form of expression in the punk cultures of the 1980s and 1990s, contemporary zines continue to provide an important platform for authors­–or zinesters– in a distinct genre.  As part of a feminist punk rock subculture known as riot grrrl, women zinesters became prominent in the 1990s; women are an integral voice in the zine community.

Politics, music and autobiography are standard zine topics. Known as 'perzines' (personal + zine), autobiographical zines form an increasingly large percentage of contemporary zine publishing. Drawn from a developing collection within Special Collections, the zines on display are perzines primarily 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.

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