Making zines, making selves : identity construction in DIY autobiography
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This dissertation examines the relationship between narrative, identity, the life story, and the social and textual practices of zine-making. The data set for this analysis is comprised of qualitative interviews with ten zine writers primarily based in Chicago, IL, in addition to a set of zines produced by these writers.; The first part of the analysis examines a central narrative that emerged in the interviews, what I call the zine discovery narrative. These narratives construed the speakers' early experiences with zines as "turning points" (Bruner 1994) in their life stories by describing and enacting "aha" moments that immediately led to their zine-making. The analysis focuses five speakers who produced (or did not produce) a discovery narrative performance. For each case, I show 1) whether and how the situated interaction of the interview impinged on the narrative performance, 2) how the speaker used the narrative to make the discovery experience fit into a larger sense of their life story, and 3) how the performance projected a self that was more (or less) connected to a full fledged "zinester" identity and a larger community of discovery narratives and narrators.; The second part of the analysis interrogates how zine-makers construct writer identities in talk about zines. I telescope on the voices of two zine-makers who I interviewed and show the linguistic, interactional, and ideological resources each speaker manipulated to accomplish "speaking like a writer" and position their zine as a particular kind of autobiographical gesture. I show how these self-constructions emerged locally as situated performances that I collaborated in producing, and globally as larger discursive moves that position the self in relation to imagined others (e.g. English teachers and other zine writers) as well as circulating ideologies about DIY and writing.; The third part of the analysis focuses on the zines themselves and their status as autobiographical "text-objects" (Poletti 2008). Through a close examination of three zines (Proof I Exist, Stream of Consciousness, and Brainscan), I show how zines are emphatically material and embodied objects. I analyze how these writers combine textual and visual elements (e.g. cut-and-paste layouts, use of photographs, and the graphic design of text) to bring off particular "performances of self" (Goffman 1959) while also shaping close and intimate relationships with their readers.; Bringing these three analyses together, this dissertation illuminates the wide array of discursive and interactional resources speakers and writers draw on to construct and project identities as zine-makers. By paying attention to my own turns-at-talk, this dissertation also brings into greater relief the analyst's role in eliciting, co-constructing, and retelling our participants' stories and self histories.
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