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From Modernism to moDernIYsm

Modernism has an image problem.

For the most part, the modernists themselves are to blame. Privately, they grumbled about “the inconceivable stupidity of the common reader.”[1] Publicly, they promised to make “no compromise with the public taste.”[2] Many prominent modernists, at points in their lives, were loudly elitist, racist, classist, sexist, imperialistic, and militaristic (let’s call it ERCSIM, pronounced “irksome”).

But modernist scholars are to blame as well.

Certainly, the new modernist studies has complicated the modernists’ self-characterization. As Jeff Drouin and Sean Latham argue in this cluster, we’ve looked beyond the usual suspects to find modernisms that defy the ERCSIM model. We’ve found that even among the canonical figures, views were seldom as clear-cut as the loudest proclamations suggested, that ideological positions were complex, subject to change, existing always within a broader context of debate and discussion.[3]

Yet even in seeking to nuance or overturn stereotyped ideas about modernism, we remain in their grip. I always include a unit on modernism in my Intro to Digital Humanities classes, and when my students go on to take dedicated courses on modernism, they often return to say, “Great. So modernists are ERCSIM. Thanks a lot for the recommendation.” No doubt their instructors sought to complicate the ERCSIM view, not just to hammer it home. And of course it is a reading of modernism that must be taken into account in any survey course, a legitimate and inescapable part of the picture. But whether we teach Intro to Modernism as “modernists were ERCSIM” or “not all modernists were ERCSIM all the time,” it is the ERCSIM part that tends to stick.

We need ways of teaching and thinking about modernism that break the ERCSIM paradigm. We need this for our own sake: to attract students to our classes. We also owe it to modernism, the complexity of which suffers from the “is/not ERCSIM” approach. And we owe it to contemporary culture, too, which stands to benefit from a richer account of modernism. We are the stewards of modernism, and it is up to us to develop readings of the period that allow modernist ideas and practices to contribute meaningfully to the most pressing debates of our era.

In this we’re failing. We’ve done a good job on convincing one another, but not our students, and not the public. Though there are surely other examples, here I will focus on one: the so-called GamerGate controversy in videogame culture.[4] In reading modernism through GamerGate, I’m drawing on a growing body of Digital Humanities scholarship—Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media and Jessica Pressman’s Digital Modernism are perhaps the best examples—that seek new insights into modernism through rigorous, medium-specific analysis of electronic literature, gaming, and digital culture.[5] I focus on GamerGate specifically because it is a debate to which modernism—particularly modernist practices of self-publication and modernist ideas about the relationship between independent production and social change—has much to contribute. And yet, because of modernism’s image problem, the connection has not been made. Both modernism and modernist studies have thus missed a crucial opportunity to take part in a defining conversation of our period.

In the Videogame’s Basement

Consider Gone Home, a videogame that played a quietly heroic role in the GamerGate saga, but which goes out of its way to declare modernism useless and irrelevant.[6]

Gone Home, released in 2013, is in most respects a highly unusual videogame. Although it is presented in the “first person shooter” perspective of countless games dating back to Wolfenstein 3D (1992), there are no guns and no one to shoot.[7] Instead, our task as a player is to wander around an empty house, pick up objects, read scraps of paper, and figure out what’s going on. The narrative we reconstruct is, again, very atypical for a videogame. We are Kaitlin Greenbriar, returning from a year abroad in Europe. Our father, an unsuccessful author of conspiracy-tinged popular novels, is away at a counseling retreat with our mother, an arborist who is having an affair with a colleague. Our little sister Sam, whose coming-out has been met with disapproval and persecution at home and at school, has run away with her girlfriend.

Gone Home is able to be so unusual because it was made in a manner that, until recently, was nearly impossible. Since their beginnings in the 1960s, videogames have been difficult and expensive to produce and distribute. As such, most videogames have been made in large studio environments. Since so much money is at stake, big studios have tended to produce games in recognized, marketable genres. They have also tended to produce games that reflect the values of the technically skilled people who produce them, who are predominately male, white, straight, and young.[8] A pitch for a queer narrative with no guns and minimal gameplay would stand no chance at a conventional game studio. The existence of Gone Home—which was made by a small core team of two women and two men—is due in large part to the advent of accessible tools for making games and the popularization of online channels of distribution. Gone Home is what is known as an “indie game”: a videogame produced by a small team on a small budget that exploits the artistic freedom such a model entails. Though Gone Home was seen as a breath of fresh air in the videogame world, receiving rapturous reviews in industry and mainstream critical circles and winning many awards, it was also met with violent backlash.[9] Along with Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, it is among the videogames most frequently attacked in what has become known as GamerGate, the broad-based campaign of online bullying designed to keep anyone who is not white, male, young, and straight—along with all so-called SJWs (“Social Justice Warriors”), such as the creators of Gone Home—out of videogames.[10]

The vast majority of modernist scholars are on the side of Gone Home. Even those of us who don’t play videogames would, after this quick summary, recognize it as worthy of our support.

But Gone Home is not on our side.

The game contains a single reference to modernism, and it is withering. In a deserted, dusty corner of the basement there is a copy of an academic volume entitled Joyce: A Complete Understanding, written by our grandfather, “Richard Greenbriar, PhD,” and published by the University of Oregon Press. Nearby is a copy of our father’s novel, The Accidental Savior, whose cover image depicts JFK in a rifle sight. A typewritten note is taped to the back cover, in which our grandfather the Joycean attacks our father the pulp novelist for indulging in “genre clichés and implausible dimestore science-fictional dei ex machina.” He assures his son condescendingly that “readers of [his] chosen genre will lap up copies hungrily” but concludes with the remonstrative suggestion, “You can do better.”

Fig. 1. Screenshot from Gone Home: Letter from Richard.

As a critique of modernism and modernist studies, it is crude and unsubtle. From the game’s perspective, modernists like Joyce were elitists. Their academic interpreters are no better, haughtily sequestering themselves from the perceived vulgarity of popular culture, obsessed with prestige (the grandfather includes the letters “PhD” in his signature), and, worst of all, writing for no one.

The creators of Gone Home go out of their way to say that modernism is not an influence—that, as creators working in the new genre of “indie videogames” and as proud SJWs seeking to expand the contours of their medium, modernism has nothing to teach them. They take equal pains to point out the artistic movement that they do regard as an influence: Riot Grrrl. Gone Home is set in the mid-1990s, the heyday of Riot Grrrl, perhaps the most successful historical example of the political force of punk’s DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic and a major engine of third-wave feminism.[11] Working outside of established mainstream channels of cultural production and distribution, Riot Grrrls worked in forcefully popular genres designed to attract large audiences. They started bands and released records on their own labels, managed their own tours, established mailing networks for distributing their photocopied zines, organized local discussion groups, and staged demonstrations and rallies.

Gone Home abounds in references to Riot Grrrl. Its soundtrack includes songs by seminal Riot Grrrl bands Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy, licensed from the key Riot Grrrl label Kill Rock Stars. One room in the house functions as a Riot Grrrl museum. The walls are covered in posters for Riot Grrrl concerts and there are Riot Grrrl tapes lying on the floor. But the scene is one not only of consumption: it is also one of production. Throughout the room are the tools that Sam and her girlfriend Lonnie have used to produce their zine Kicking Against the Patriarchy—pens, markers, scissors, glue, cut up comic books, scraps of paper. Copies of the zine itself, which protests Lonnie’s expulsion for speaking out against discrimination at school, lie stacked in bundles against the wall.

Fig. 2. Screenshot from Gone Home: The Zine-Making Room.

The creators’ message is clear. Modernism, which is concerned with policing cultural boundaries, with keeping regular people out, with developing a language comprehensible only to the elect, has nothing to offer. Riot Grrrl, on the other hand, serves as an inspiration and an artistic ancestor, demonstrating the power of DIY production for achieving social change, suggesting that what they accomplished with records and zines can be achieved with indie videogames. Modernism is a dead end; Riot Grrrl is a way forward.

Fig. 3. Screenshot from Gone Home: Zine and Zine-Making Tools.

Cheap and Unforbidden Instruments

For all its merits, Gone Home gets modernism wrong. Its account of modernism is stingy and one-sided—no better than a caricature. Most importantly, the notion that modernism and Riot Grrrl exist somehow in opposition is fatally wrongheaded.

What is Gone Home’s zine-making room but a literalization of Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own”—a space apart in which one is free to create? Is not A Room of One’s Own itself an early DIY production? After all, it was published by the Hogarth Press, which had its origins in an old printing press that the Woolfs purchased for £9 and operated themselves. J. H. Willis argues that Woolf wouldn’t have become Woolf if she had not owned her own press: her writing “developed as it did,” he says, “because she was free from editorial pressure, real or imagined, and needed to please only herself.”[12] Is this not an example of what the punks would call the DIY ethic—the notion that artists are only truly free when they take control of the process of their work’s production and distribution?

Of course, we don’t need to take Willis’s word for it. Woolf theorized the DIY ethic, without naming it as such, in Three Guineas. There, she defines “intellectual liberty” as “the right to say or write what you think in your own words, and in your own way.”[13] Drawing on her own experience as a printer, she explicitly positions DIY publishing as a means to this end. Addressing her fictional interlocutor, she writes,

Still, Madam, the private printing press is an actual fact, and not beyond the reach of a moderate income. Typewriters and duplicators are actual facts and even cheaper. By using these cheap and so far unforbidden instruments you can at once rid yourself of the pressure of boards, policies and editors. They will speak your own mind, in your own words, at your own time, at your own length, at your own bidding. And that, we are agreed, is our definition of “intellectual liberty.” (Woolf, Three Guineas, 98)

Admittedly, this may not be the first elaboration of the DIY ethic. Perhaps that honor belongs to Walter Benjamin’s “The Author as Producer,” published four years before Three Guineas, where, in his analysis of Bertolt Brecht’s alienation effect, Benjamin argues that the real task of the modernist artist is to turn audiences into artists, consumers into producers, and to provide spectators with the tools of DIY creation, since “An author who teaches writers nothing teaches no one.[14] Either way, the point stands. It is ludicrous to set modernists against the DIY ethic. Modernists probably invented it.[15]

They probably invented it not just at a theoretical level, but at the practical level as well. Consider modernist little magazines, which surely deserve recognition as the forebears of punk zines. Riot Grrrls are rightly famous for their self-financed, self-produced zines, which they employed as tools for feminist protest. Think of the magazines in which modernism developed: The Freewoman, The New Freewoman, The Egoist, The Little Review, even Poetry—all were independently-financed, self-produced magazines which, initially, at least, or on some level, were intended by their female founders as tools of feminist protest. Now, set a copy of the first issue of Blast next to the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, or compare its typography to that of a punk or Riot Grrrl zine: the aesthetics, not to mention the attitude and method of production, are undeniably congruent.

And it is not simply a matter of congruence: it is a matter of influence. Richard Hell, possibly the single most influential person in the development of punk, cofounder of the original CBGB punk bands The Neon Boys and Television, frequent contributor to the etymologically essential New York zine Punk, editor of the self-published poetry magazine Genesis: Grasp, worked at the Gotham Book Mart in the late 1960s, where, he recounts in an autobiographical essay,

I had the luck to get assigned to helping catalog the hundreds and hundreds of old little literary magazines filling up a storage room on the second floor. I spent day after day alone up there with such signifying artifacts as Eliot’s Criterion, Harriet Monroe’s Poetry (Chicago) when it was publishing Pound’s circle in the teens and twenties, Eugene and Marie Jolas’ Paris Transition [sic], where a lot of early modernists and surrealists published . . . Wyndham Lewis’s Blast, Margaret Anderson’s The Little Review.[16]

Hell wasn’t the only one. In her interviews with prominent Riot Grrrls, Riley Wilson has discovered that major figures—including Tobi Vail, co-founder of the essential Riot Grrl band Bikini Kill and author/publisher of the pioneering zine Jigsaw—counted among their main inspirations in the early 1990s modernists like Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Jane Bowles.[17]

So the creators of Gone Home are wrong about modernism. But how would they know any differently? Certainly not by reading modernist scholarship, which has mostly ignored the links between modernism and later DIY movements. With a few notable exceptions, we have left this work to music writers and popular historians like Greil Marcus, Jon Savage, Simon Reynolds, and Amy Spencer—none of whom give any sustained attention to modernist publishing practices or demonstrate any real familiarity with modernism.[18] Why have we ignored the connection? I sincerely hope that it is not because we are clinging to a vestigial disdain for popular forms—because we share more in common with Richard Greenbriar, PhD, than we would care to admit, and still aren’t ready to take seriously outré trash like punk rock and videogames.

Putting the DIY in moDernIYsm

For whatever reason, we haven’t looked seriously at modernism as a plausible origin of DIY culture. Here are some reasons we ought to now.

First, the DIY approach offers a way of looking at modernism through something other than the ERCSIM paradigm. It begins not with ideology but with material practices of self-production. Its first question is not “what were its politics?” but “why was it made the way it was made?” This is not to say that the DIY approach is an escape from ideology. The DIY ethic is a materialist ideology: a politicization of artistic production that sees self-publication as a means of disseminating ideologies—any ideologies—that would otherwise remain buried. Punk and Riot Grrrl are two of the most powerful ideological artistic movements of the second half of the twentieth century. To approach modernism in terms of the DIY ethic is not to ignore ideology but to approach it differently, through method of production.[19] The shift from the ERCSIM paradigm to the DIY paradigm thus mirrors Rita Felski’s suggestion in The Limits of Critique that we move from the “hermeneutics of suspicion” to a new approach informed by actor-network theory (ANT), where the primary interest is in tracing the associations—the interconnections of authors, readers, publishers, agents, reviewers, bookstores, technologies of production and consumption, etc.—that allow a text to make a difference in the world.[20]

Second, the turn to DIY modernism might yield that most cherished (if also yawningly reiterated) of things: a new definition of modernism. When we pursue Felski’s ANT-inspired suggestion to look beyond strictly delimited literary-historical periods and turn to “the tracing of cross-temporal networks,” new patterns begin to emerge (“Context Stinks!” 157). Set The Freewoman next to Three Guineas next to Riot Grrrl zines like Jigsaw next to Gone Home. All promote feminist ideas that, in their time and in their particular artistic and social context, were highly controversial. None could have been produced in their given form through established commercial channels. All were self-produced at a moment when self-production was just becoming possible in their respective art forms. Might that be a definition of modernism?

Let’s take David James and Urmila Seshagiri’s productive concept of “metamodernism”—a redefinition of modernism through its trans-temporal echoes—and push it a step further.[21] Maybe modernism isn’t only a set of ideas or styles or even a particular historical period. Maybe modernism is what happens when people start taking advantage of technological developments that make self-publication practicable. Book historians have shown that modernism happened for literature in the period when lowering printing costs and a fragmented reading public made it feasible to produce and sell small-run specialist publications.[22] Historians of punk note that the movement coincided with drastic reductions in the cost of photocopying, pressing vinyl, and recording cassette tapes, as well as innovations in distribution.[23] Critics tie indie games to the emergence of online marketplaces and cheap, easy-to-use game-making platforms.[24] Perhaps it makes sense to think of all three as phases of, or instances of, modernism. Modernist literature (a misnomer in this way of thinking) is the modernist phase of print culture. Punk is the modernist phase of pop music and an intensification of the modernist phase of print culture. Indie games are the modernist phase of videogames.

And we gain new ways of teaching modernism, too—not only in terms of content (we could put Jigsaw and Gone Home on our syllabi, or, at least, be more likely to assign an issue of The Egoist alongside a contemporary reprint of Joyce’s Portrait) but also in terms of assignments and classroom activities.[25] Instead of assigning a final research essay, we could assign a collaboratively produced modernist little magazine. It would need a title, an editorial position, some essays, some fiction and poetry, perhaps some art. It would need to be published on such and such a date in the modernist period. It would need an editor, writers, artists, a designer. It would need to be printed, marketed, and distributed. What would we (our students, yes, but us, too) learn about modernism by shifting some of our focus from what they produced to how they produced—and by seeking not just to understand modernist print practice but to do it? In adopting a hands-on DIY approach to modernism, we would align ourselves with some of the most exciting recent scholarship in the humanities, such as The Making of a Broadside Ballad, a project based at the University of California, Santa Barbara that combines literary history, book history, “critical making,” and digital humanities.[26]

In any case, the most important point is that it’s not just us who benefit. It takes courage to violate the norms of one’s art form. It took courage for Karla Zimonja, Kate Craig, Steve Gaynor, and Johnnemann Nordhagen to make Gone Home. They knew that there would be a backlash, and the backlash, GamerGate, was fierce. Riot Grrrl gave them courage. It provided an example outside their own medium of how to use DIY production to challenge the norms of their medium.

Of course, another example was available to them. A more generous account of modernism would have given the creators of Gone Home even more courage. The DIY movements are stronger together. Indie games are stronger in alliance with Riot Grrrl. They’re stronger still in alliance with modernism—and with us.


[1] Joseph Conrad to Norman Douglas, February 29, 1908, in The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, vol. 4, ed. Frederick R. Karl and Laurence Davies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 52.

[2] This was the motto of The Little Review, printed on its cover page from June 1917 (4, no. 1) until January/March 1921 (7, no. 4), when it was changed in response to the Ulysses obscenity trial, an event that goes some way toward explaining why the magazine adopted such a disdainful motto in the first place.

[3] This is the major argument of Modernism: Keywords (Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell, 2014), of which I am co-author with Melba Cuddy-Keane and Alexandra Peat. For the complexity of modernist ideology, see especially the entries on “Fascism,” “Propaganda,” and “Readers, Reading.”

[4] The Wikipedia entry on “Gamergate controversy” is a good place to start. Two New York Times articles from 2014 are instructive: Chris Suellentrop, “Can Video Games Survive?” New York Times, October 25, 2014 (which calls Gone Home “One of the finest games of 2013, and undoubtedly the most important”); and Nick Wingfield, “Feminist Critics of Video Games Facing Threats in “GamerGate” Campaign,” New York Times, October 15, 2014. For first-person accounts, see Anita Sarkeesian and Katherine Cross, “Your Humanity is in Another Castle: Terror Dreams and the Harassment of Women”; and Zoe Quinn, “A Game I Had to Make,” both in The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture, Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, eds. (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2015). GamerGate is increasingly an area of study in the social sciences (see Shira Chess and Adrienne Shaw, “A Conspiracy of Fishes, or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying about #GamerGate and Embrace Hegemonic Masculinity,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 59, no. 1 [2015]: 208–20). A warning: in your searching, beware of hits for zoological articles on “gamergates”—a type of mated worker ant.

[5] Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001); Jessica Pressman, Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

[6] Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, Kate Craig, and Johnnemann Nordhagen, Gone Home (Portland, OR: Fullbright, 2013).

[7] id Software, Wolfenstein 3D (Garland, TX: Apogee Software, 1992).

[8] For the best account of the relationship between big studio production and social conservatism—and the best account of the social possibilities of games made by individuals with little or no technical skills, not to mention one of the most exciting critical works of the new millennium—see Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012).

[9] Gone Home received a perfect 10/10 score and a Game of the Year award from online videogame journal Polygon as well as prizes from industry publications like IGN and PC Gamer. It received prizes and accolades from mainstream publications as well, such as Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and The New York Times. See Reddit threads such as “Another #GamerGate corruption classic: Polygon’s corrupt review of Gone Home” and the user reviews section of Gone Home’s page on the website of online game retailer Steam.

[10] Wikipedia defines “Social Justice Warrior” as “a pejorative term for an individual who promotes socially progressive views, including feminism, civil rights, and multiculturalism, as well as identity politics.” See

[11] The best introductions to Riot Grrrl are Sara Marcus, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010) and Don’t Need You: the Herstory of Riot Grrrl, directed by Kerri Koch (Houston, TX: Urban Cowgirl Productions, 2005), DVD. An excellent sampling of Riot Grrrl zines, including Tobi Vail’s Jigsaw, is available in The Riot Grrrl Collection, ed. Lisa Darms (New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2013).

[12] J. H. Willis Jr., Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: The Hogarth Press, 1917–41 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1992), 44.

[13] Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (London: Hogarth Press, 1938), 91.

[14] Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings: 1931–1934, vol. 2, part 2, Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith, eds. Trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2005), 777. Emphasis in original.

[15] I say “probably” because I can imagine so many counter-arguments, among them that pamphleteers were the original zinesters, or that William Morris started DIY culture. My preliminary responses to these hypothetical objections are: pamphlets seldom sought political change through radical aesthetics, as modernists and punks did and indie gamers do; late Victorians often envisaged their (expensive) small press publications as a refuge from capitalism, whereas the (cheap) DIY method is to use capitalism strategically, to embrace wholeheartedly the unexpected opportunities that it affords.

[16] Richard Hell, “Autobiography of Richard Hell,” The Brooklyn Rail, October 3, 2007.

[18] See Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock (London: Faber and Faber, 1991); Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978–84 (London: Faber and Faber, 2004); and Amy Spencer, DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture (2005; London: Marion Boyars, 2008). A few exceptional academic works on the connections between modernism and punk are Daniel Kane, “Richard Hell, Genesis: Grasp, and the Blank Generation: From Poetry to Punk in New York’s Lower East Side,” Contemporary Literature 52, no. 2 (2011): 330–69, and David E. James’s Power Misses: Essays Across (Un)Popular Culture (London: Verso, 1996). 

[19] The DIY approach also offers a plausible explanation for why modernists were so loudly ERCSIM in the first place. Perhaps it was because they were the first generation of artists to enjoy that kind of freedom—to be able to speak their own minds, in their own words, at their own time, at their own length, at their own bidding, free of the pressure of boards, policies, and editors.

[20] See “Context Stinks!” the concluding chapter of Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 151–85.

[21] See David James and Urmila Seshagiri, “Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution,” PMLA 129, no. 1 (2014): 87–100.

[22] See, for instance, Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi and John Plunkett, “The Pre-History of the ‘Little Magazine,’” in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, vol. 1: Britain and Ireland, 1880–1955 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 33–50.

[23] See especially Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming, England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond. (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001) which includes a discussion of the importance of the photocopier to the development of what he calls the “access aesthetic” (202).

[24] See especially Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, as well as Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, “Post-Escapism: A New Discourse on Video Game Culture,” in The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture, ed. Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2015).

[25] I am overstating the novelty of my approach here for polemical purposes. Suzanne Churchill, for instance, describes similar pedagogy in “Modernist Periodicals & Pedagogy: An Experiment in Collaboration,” in Transatlantic Print Culture, 1880-1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms, ed. Ann Ardis and Patrick Collier (Palgrave, 2008). For my own examples of this pedagogy see my British Modernism survey, which maintains a sustained focus on modernist publishing practices and includes a collaborative magazine-making assignment, and my course “The Social Politics of Indie,” which presents a transhistorical and transartistic look at the DIY ethic, tracing its development from modernist little magazines, into punk zines and records, into indie videogames.

[26] The Making of a Broadside Ballad ( describes and reflects upon the effort of a team of scholars and artists to produce an early modern broadside ballad using contemporaneous methods and equipment. Particularly recommended is Andrew Griffin’s essay “Why Making?” which lays out the rationale for the project’s hands-on approach to understanding literary history. On critical making, see Matt Ratto, “Critical Making,” in Open Design Now: Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive, Bas van Abel, Lucas Evers, Roel Klaassen, and Peter Troxler, eds. (Amsterdam: Bis Publishers, 2011): 202–14, and Garnet Hertz, “Conversations in Critical Making,”