For the Love of It?: Zine Writing and the Study of Contemporary Amateur Work
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In this project, I am examining zines in relation to the question of contemporary amateurism. With the onset of Web 2.0 came a space for new forms of amateur work, but this new work hasn’t been addressed as “amateur,” which has revealed a problem between what theorists know the amateur to be and what has been embraced by mainstream culture. This oversimplification of the definition of amateurism seems to threaten the integrity of amateur work in general. I analyze the concepts “transparency” and “distance” and show that both highlight the need for preserving the amateur. I confront the notion of “for the love it” by interrogating the boundaries that zine writers have established and the misperception that zine work somehow remains on the fringe of capitalist culture. Moreover, I identify the Pro Am (professional amateur) as the most significant contemporary amateur figure because it directly challenges not only what it means to be professional, but also what it means to be amateur. By examining perzines and glossies, I argue that while “for the love of it” has been downplayed or even ignored, internal rewards are still an important factor in what makes an act amateur and that external rewards don’t always have to be monetary. I argue that a better understanding of amateurism via the amateurs doing their work calls attention to the way that individuals are self-identifying as amateurs and shows that zine writers maintain the distance and transparency that is seen as a necessity of amateur work. I find that zine writers demonstrate this preservation of amateur space in successful ways until they are confronted with the issue of Pro Am work. It is at this point that they fail to embrace a diverse definition of amateur work, which is necessary to understanding what kind of space glossies occupy and how they are valuable to amateurism. The zine community ends up rejecting a body of publications that directly interact with and challenge professional magazine work. By alienating these publications, they lose out on the opportunity to alter the mainstream magazines their zines are working so hard to change.
Hoeflinger, Emily Sara (2016). For the Love of It?: Zine Writing and the Study of Contemporary Amateur Work. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from