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Radical Research

Carolina student used fellowship to find rare zines in archives across the country

Portrait of Ashton holding up zines he made

Carolina student used fellowship to find rare zines in archives across the country

If you wanted to find senior Ashton Thorne this past summer, you might have looked in the Rubenstein Reading Room at Duke University or in two Chicago libraries.

In those libraries and archives, he searched through and scanned thousands of pages of zines — short, self-published works similar to magazines — to research expressions of queercore and transgender representation in the 1980s through the early 2000s.

Queercore is a queer, punk subcultural and social movement that expresses itself through radical and do-it-yourself art and media, explained Thorne in his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship project proposal.

For nine weeks last summer, Thorne dived into studying every queercore zine he could find in digital archives and libraries across the country as he searched to identify and understand transgender representation in the early publications.

“I ended up getting [copies of] every single issue of the zine that I originally thought I would not be able to read at all,” he said. “So that was very exciting.”

Thorne’s final presentation of his research is an essay in which he analyzes the way that queercore zines interact with politics of transgender liberation and anti-assimilationism. The subject, he says, has an incredible opportunity for expanded research, and he would like to be a part of that.

“Every time I finish writing a paragraph, I’m like, ‘Oh, no. This could be another essay,’” he said with a laugh. “And there’s not a lot of scholarship on queercore in general. So I feel like there’s a lot that I could do.”

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