Space, Time, and Translation in Magazines Outside the Mainstream Press, 1910s – the Present. ESPRit 2021, Bochum

ESPRit 2021, Bochum

Space, Time, and Translation in Magazines outside the Mainstream Press, 1910s to the Present

In the last two decades, independent magazines have become increasingly visible. They have now established their own digital-based infrastructures for marketing and distribution as well as offline events such as conventions  and award ceremonies. Today, indie magazines are generally understood as publications not backed by big publishing houses, operating independently from the constraint to return profits, and thus granting full editorial control to their makers, who often embrace a DIY or DIWO ethics. These publications target a much smaller audience than mainstream magazines, a ‘micro public,’ with very specific shared interests and tastes: Indies may serve as touchstones of subcultures, niches, avantgardes, minoritised communities, and undergrounds. They harness the magazine form to potentially reach beyond these readerships and to penetrate the mass market or provide an alternative to, and critique of, commercial titles and their normative outlook. Independent magazines  highlight  this opposition to a perceived mainstream as part of their textual and visual identities, using it as a resource to plunder, subvert, or imitate in order to raise awareness about cultural and political issues and to provide aesthetic alternatives. In doing so, they translate complex spatial and temporal relations into page design, texts, and images. 

Although the contemporary indie boom has garnered some interest in specialist media and in scholarly criticism, little has been said about the historical depth of its contemporary expression or the political and engaged titles as opposed to the more prominent lifestyle, art, and design publications. The ‘little magazines’ of modernism anticipate gestures of establishing distinctive periodical voices outside the mass market, addressing a circumscribed group of readers through the magazine form. Today, while Kinfolk, Apartamento, Cereal, Weekender, and Flow have made their way onto the racks of high street newsagents shaping our view of successful indies, other  publications like NXS or It’s Freezing in LA are much harder to access, yet provide a window onto radical experiments in print. Similarly, the assumption that indie magazines are the prerogative of white, middle-class creatives has come under pressure by publications showcasing second- and third-generation diasporic identities in Britain in magazines that move away from the slick indie lifestyle aesthetics by circling back to the intimacy and authenticity of zines. The panel addresses examples of contemporary indie publishing, probes a historical instance of periodicals-outside-the-mainstream, and widens the discussion by including indies that find innovative ways of arranging pressing social and political issues on the magazine page.


“Against the Grain: The Refusal to Translate, Foreign-Language Use, and Aesthetic Distance in Modernist Little Magazines”

Jutta Ernst (Mainz)


“‘Here, we represent South Asians’: Diasporic Space and Time in Independent Magazines”

Sabina Fazli (Göttingen)


“Indie Mags in the Digital Era: The Politics and Geographies of Environmental and Technological Change in Avant-Garde Magazines”

Oliver Scheiding (Mainz)