Zines and Identities Emerge: An Anecdotal Look at When Participation and Rhetoric Collide

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Students began turning in their mini-zines on Friday with more to come today. As mentioned in a previous post, I pointed my students in the direction of using their zines as a mode to express their knowledge of and use of rhetorical strategies. The early results are promising. While I do love using zines as a tool, they are ultimately merely a tool. What has been fun and exciting to watch unfold in the classroom is the overall enjoyment students have shown in the process, and specifically watching them show aspects of who they are that are so easy to hide or reserve for only a few. Identity is fluid and social as well as a part of a person that is multiplicitous and is in-process as well as embedded over time. Adolescence is an important moment in our lives when we explore our identity. My current research is in part looking for where the ELA classroom may serve as an important space in school for students to do this exploration while also a space that empowers them to act. What that action is cannot really be predicted with certainty, but I will venture to state that a student acting with a belief they are welcome to and encouraged to act is inspirational. I will also venture to state that a student choosing openly to not act, to resist or push against, is just as inspirational. Sounds complex, right? Inside today’s post, I share what my students have been up to so far with some anecdotal understandings I have of their process. The set of three zines you see above are all mini-size and each takes on rhetoric in very different ways; however, each uses pathos as their primary strategy. While I have not done a literature review, I would imagine that the teens using pathos as a go-to rhetorical strategy is prevalent. You can see from the cover of the zine on top that the student is using a nice mix of pathos and ethos. I look forward to unpacking with this student how effective the argument is based on the perceived credibility of a pop artist such as Lady Gaga. To some, she would be a strong, credible source, while certainly to others she would not be a credible source at all. You can also see from this zine that some of these students are pulling no punches, which I strongly advocated them to do. Zines by their very nature are at times aggressive, subversive, and are meant to jar others’ sensibilities–often in order to cause others to wrestle with what they believe to be true. I will not comment on these students’ identities or agency at this point, but I there maybe something very rich here.



This photo shows how fascinated several of my students have been with being able to photocopy their phones and images they pulled up on their phones. Watching students get excited about seeing an aesthetic they had not seen before brought me some joy. I could tell it energized several of them. I also enjoyed seeing a student take on stereotypes again (this comes up frequently when we make zines), but this one was unique since it is tackling depression, which I haven’t seen yet.

20160414_124837I’ll end today’s post with what has emerged as one of my favorite zines so far. This student has openly told me she, “hates making zines.” However, this has changed over time. She has gone from very resistive to being willing to work until midnight on crafting her zine on embracing the natural hair movement in black communities. When I told the class that I was going to have a zine booth set up for anyone who wants to join me at a local maker festival, this student lit up and said she was very interested. While this image only shows her poster when her mini-zine is unfolded, at some point I’ll share her entire zine–it is quite, quite good.

More soon, including information about when I’ll be holding an online zinecast with the kiddos!


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