Riot grrrl punk: a case study in the personal politics of British riot grrrl fanzines
Visual Rhetoric and the Eloquence of Design
This 11,500-word book chapter takes as its case study one Riot Grrrl fanzine, Rebel Grrl Punk, and presents an in-depth analysis of the independent music and political feminist movement in the early 1990s that emerged initially in the USA and few years later in the UK. From the beginning, riot grrrl embraced a 'do-it-yourself' ethos operating outside the mainstream music business, organising independent music festivals and workshop events and encouraging self-published fanzines.
The chapter is published in Visual Rhetoric and the Eloquence of Design, which features 10 scholarly essays steeped in rhetorical analysis of artefacts, alongside two visual essays on the topic of ornamental typography with accompanying verbal texts. Contributors include notable historians and theorists Gerry Beegan, Barry Curtis, Michael Golec, Jane Webb and Jack Williamson. Parlor Press is an established, independent peer-reviewed academic publisher focusing on ‘outstanding writing’ in specialist subjects including Literary Theory, Rhetoric and Art History. Continuation of this research also informed conference papers presented at the ‘Women’s Library Zine Festival’, London Metropolitan University (2010), and ‘A Carnival of Feminist Cultural Activism’ at University of York (2011).
The chapter expands the author’s PhD research (University of Reading) and research for her Professorial Platform (University of the Arts London, 2009); and focuses upon primary research (author’s own collection of uncatalogued and rare zines and interviews) using theory drawn from political history, feminist studies and visual rhetoric. The first part of the chapter provides a historical context of fanzines and defines theoretical positions, including visual language, contemporary feminist narrative, and terminology such as ‘riot grrrl’. The main section focuses on an analysis and in-depth exploration into the British riot grrrl fanzine, Rebel Grrrl Punk (1997–2001), which is used as a case study of an emerging visual language for third-wave feminism.