Dispatches from Bloomington

Today marks the end of the second week of my visiting fellowship at Indiana University Bloomington, attached to the Lilly Library. With another two weeks to go, I thought it was about time for a blog post.

In my time here on the (incredibly hot) IU Bloomington campus, I have been finishing up the first full draft of my first chapter–more on that another time no doubt–and also exploring the holdings of the Lilly Library and the Kinsey Institute library. I have been amazingly lucky not just to have this opportunity, but also in the things that I’ve found in support of my upcoming second chapter on various publications from the British and American Underground Press. Back in the last months of my undergrad, I was tipped off by a supervisor about the existence of Ed Sanders’ Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts. I quickly became preoccupied with ideas of the underground press and mimeo revolution, and I had planned to fit it in to my MA program somewhere, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Fuck You issue 5 vol 9_p1-page-001

Fuck You issue 5, vol. 9

When it came to applying for my PhD, though, a chapter on the Underground Press was the one most clear in my mind. While it hasn’t been the first I’ve written about, I am really looking forward to getting to grips with the huge range of material I have so far been able to collect from the Lilly and Kinsey Institute libraries. Current count is around 600 pictures.

When it comes to luck, it is not just the full collection of Fuck You that I was able to get access to at the Lilly, but also copies of a Gay Liberation Front-associated journal held at the Kinsey: Gay Flames. Unfortunately, the Kinsey Institute, especially the library, was subject to quite serious flooding last year. This means that appointments to access the materials the Kinsey library holds is by appointment only. After sending my request email, I was informed that the majority of the Kinsey’s Gay Flames holdings were water damaged and inaccessible, but that I was welcome to come and do some work with those few issues that weren’t damaged. My luck was confirmed when I found the below in one of the four undamaged issues. Exactly what I was looking for:

Gay Flames TWGR Manifesto-page-001

“Third World Gay Manifesto”. Gay Flames issue 12, March 1971

I discovered Gay Flames when reading José Muñoz’s excellent Cruising Utopia, where he referred to this very manifesto. Decided I needed to read it for myself, I was very glad to find it had survived the flooding, and an analysis of it will form the jumping off point for my Underground Press chapter.

For the remaining two weeks I’m here, I will be holed up almost every day in the main campus library, the Herman B. Wells, working with microfilm for the first time. The Wells has an Underground Press Syndicate microfilm collection, which includes (among its over 700 holdings), Women’s libeRATion, which is another key text for my chapter, and the publication it grew out of, RAT: Subterranean News, along with a (seemingly) complete collection of The Black PantherUrban Underground (from New York), Black Circles (an openly anarchist publication), Peace News and International Times from London, and Momma from L.A. I fear I’m going to come back to Manchester with far too much material, but it will at least allow me to be discerning. Once I’m back, I’m planning a trip down to the UCL Little Magazine collection to fill in some gaps with London publications, and then it will be hard at work writing until January when I plan to have a full draft complete.

Well, with that, I will sign off. I hope to get another blog post up just after I’m back with my findings from the UPS collection.

From Bloomington,




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