: Upcoming, Fall 2017: Issue 12.1

Special Issue: The Past, Present, and Future of Self-publishing

Editors: Jason Luther, Frank Farmer, Steve Parks

Whether they are abolitionist, suffragist, or underground presses; little magazines or chapbooks; countercultural posters or catalogues; zines or comix — the history of self-publishing has long been both a constitutive (counter)public activity and the primary means for documenting political struggle. Likewise, archives of self-published corpora are found in a variety of community spaces, from formal institutions (like our universities) to everyday garages and attics, providing researchers with the broader contexts that help us understand the aspirations and challenges facing public authors, as well as the tools they used to share them.

While the development of digitally-networked technology has emboldened efforts to preserve and spread these texts, they have also complicated the definition of publishing for contemporary authors who produce and circulate them in the 21st century. Moreover, do-it-yourself rhetoric has individualized politics in ways that can seem empowering, but often limit the ability for writers looking to build sustained movements.

This special issue of the Community Literacy Journal focuses on the ways self-publishing functions in the present as well as the past, especially how certain cases affect the future of community literacy. We are especially interested in how case studies or microhistories of self-publishing help us theorize the limits of the term, calling into question the role of the “self” in (counter) publics, as well as the characteristics of production, consumption, exchange, and distribution that make a text a “publication.” 

Invited articles will address

  • Considering the relationship between self-publishing and local publics and how that relationship is mediated by the materiality of print, digital, and multimodal forms, especially in terms of community literacy.
  • Reframing publishing as not so much as a distinction or privilege but as a right or responsibility of democratic citizenship. 
  • Reflecting on tensions between amateur and professional knowledge production. Is the production of self-published texts, for example, deemed not as legitimate as texts published by corporate publishers or even community presses? For whom do such questions matter and whose purposes count as legitimate or worthy of public consideration?
  • Using self-publishing as an occasion to develop emerging conversations in the field regarding publics, processes, and technologies that are both embodied and virtual. 
  • Discussing the role self-publishing plays in community literacy not only in terms of production or identity, but in terms of circulation.