Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture / Edition 2

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 28%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.64
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 56%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $5.64   
  • New (10) from $7.16   
  • Used (9) from $5.64   


Much history and theory is uncovered here in the first comprehensive study of zine publishing. From their origins in early 20th century science fiction cults, their more proximate roots in ‘60s counter-culture and their rapid proliferation in the wake of punk rock, Stephen Duncombe pays full due to the political importance of zines as a vital network of popular culture. He also analyzes how zines measure up to their utopian and escapist outlook in achieving fundamental social change. Packed with extracts and illustrations, he provides a useful overview of the contemporary underground in all its splendor and misery.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A timely new critical study, Stephen Duncombe's Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (1997), throws some light on the current state of zines and what's at stake. Duncombe, a professor of American Studies and a zine-maker himself, locates zines within a wider bohemian tradition, and maps out both the potential and the limits of their cultural radicalism."  —The Atlantic

"Duncombe retains his respect and even admiration for the utopian sentiments that animate the 'zine world, even as he unblinkingly diagnoses the contradictions and limitations of the political vision these publications offer."  —Weekly Wire

"Here is an extensive analysis and critique of the zine as a whole by a professor, activist, and zine maker himself. Originally published in 1997, it gives many references to the broad world of zines at the time and even dating back to the 1930s. All subject remains timeless in effect and Duncombe espouses on each careful selection as it relates to the subject he is tackling. As a former self-publisher and now contributor, I never gave much thought to the history. For example, originating in the sci-fi world, the zine was birthed as a means to connect with like minded people to share ideas about stories read in glossier magazines, and even to self publish their own. The anti-consumerist nature of DIY publishing is a rebellion in itself and yet has a major craving for connection at the same time. Duncombe delves into this oxymoron and raises the questions: do zines make the difference it set out to do? Can they actually effect social change or rather implode in it’s underground world? He sites arguments for both, afterall he IS part of it himself. These are all important queries that raised my eyebrows and had me pondering the broader effect of zines on our culture and society as large. Recommended."  —Profance Existance

"This book took me a little by surprise with its in depth and analytical look at zine culture and it's place in alternative culture. This zine starts with a great overview of what exactly zines are and then moves into discussing the community around zines and other aspects of their place in culture."  —410Media

"Duncombe professes American Studies at SUNY Old Westbury and Notes From Underground is a work of very impressive scholarship: there are 32 pages of notes, many of them gathered during 'weeks on end' when he studied at the NY State Library among 'hundreds of cubic feet of zines housed in their Factsheet Five Collection'.' He's also a longtime zinester and has created a labor of love here, meant to be read. Don't be intimidated by the scholarly apparatus or the occasionally highfalutin language (zines are 'repositories of nonalienated creation and media for nonalienating communication') -- there's a lot here to interest the general reader. There's dozens of well-chosen illustrations. Almost all from zines published in the early 1990s. A pretty good index despite the omission of Tussin Up and MSRRT's Chris Dodge. I recommend Notes From Underground very highly."  —The Ten Page News

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934620373
  • Publisher: Microcosm Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Series: Zines Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition, Second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,325,895
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Duncombe is an associate professor at New York University’s Gallatin School and a lifelong political activist. He lives in New York City.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Zines 1
2 Identity 17
3 Community 44
4 Work 73
5 Consumption 105
6 Discovery 131
7 Purity and Danger 141
8 The Politics of Alternative Culture 174
9 Conclusion 195
Notes 199
Index 231
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)