Rookie in the Big Leagues
by Amy Elkins
I recently spoke a bit about my online project, Making Splendid Things (http://potterswheel.omeka.net/), at the Modernist Studies Conference in Pittsburgh. As a participant in a seminar on Digitizing American Female Poets, I argued that the Potters’ DIY aesthetic intersects with the project of digitization today. A snippet of my essay:
“Further underlining the feminist side of the Potters’ project, the scrapbook-like, manuscript form suggests that the Potters saw domestic, handmade craft publishing as a viable means of collecting and disseminating their work—not unlike my own pursuit to collect and disseminate their work on a self-designed website. Amy Earhart argues that digital tools, rather than making problems surrounding preservation and canonization go away, mirror the struggles and successes of feminist publishing projects. DIY feminist projects such as radical zines, handmade scrapbooks, and manuscript magazines emphasize the activist power of ephemerality. So, too, with the Potter’s Wheel. Pushing this insight one step further in a kind of dialectical turn, digital archivists might benefit considerably from attending to ephemeral works and the ways in which they continue to highlight institutional barriers, gendered gatekeeping, and canon formation.”
I was talking about the DIY dimension of my larger project, and another conference attendee told me about Rookie Magazine—an online and print multimedia journal aimed at young women that is deeply entrenched in questions of the textual and aesthetic. Rookie has a lot of sass (something I can certainly get behind) and an array of subversive journalistic and artistic projects, with topics ranging from sexual assault and queer identity to comics and gift giving. My students in ENG211 have recently fallen in love with Judith Butler (who knew?!), so I was especially struck with this gender-bending photo/collage essay, which foregrounds the performative through drag and the handmade thing. I’m glad Rookie is in the world.