This research project analyzes the ways in which the online magazine Rookie utilizes material-based elements of zine culture in order to create an embodied community. The term “embodied community” is taken from Alison Piepmeier’s Girls Zines and it refers to the connections that are formed between zine creators and readers by materiality. A zine, in its existence as a handmade artifact, acts as a sort of mediator of human touch (Piepmeier calls it a “surrogate physical interaction” (59)), sharing human emotions through their physical traces. Such an embodied community opens up space for a participatory culture, to borrow the term from Henry Jenkins, because it encourages readers to likewise become physically involved/more connected through writing letters or exchanging zines of their own. “Bonus items” that are often included with zines, such as CDs and paper fortune tellers, are also considered to aid in the development of physical connections between creators and readers. What is interesting is that Piepmeier specifically states that electronic formats, such as blogs, cannot create embodied communities in the same way as zines because they are too disembodied and too explicitly replicate the structural inequalities of the non-digital world. The online magazine Rookie directly challenges this idea through its deliberate and consistent use of elements of zine culture. Moreover, their creation of an embodied community of girls and women challenges the typical patriarchal structures of media and culture in general.
Piepmeier, Alison. Girls Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism. New York UP, 2009.