The talk will be held from 10am-12pm in the Freedom Forum Conference Center at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. Abstract and bio below.
In Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, historian John McMillian shows that one answer to these questions can be found in the emergence of a dynamic underground press in the 1960s. Following the lead of papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, theEast Village Other, and the Berkeley Barb, young people across the country launched hundreds of mimeographed pamphlets and flyers, small press magazines, and underground newspapers. New, cheaper printing technologies democratized the publishing process and by the decade’s end the combined circulation of underground papers stretched into the millions. Though not technically illegal, these papers were often genuinely subversive, and many of those who produced and sold them-on street-corners, at poetry readings, gallery openings, and coffeehouses-became targets of harassment from local and federal authorities. With writers who actively participated in the events they described, underground newspapers captured the zeitgeist of the ’60s, speaking directly to their readers, and reflecting and magnifying the spirit of cultural and political protest. McMillian pays special attention to the ways underground newspapers fostered a sense of community and played a vital role in shaping the New Left’s highly democratic “movement culture.”
John McMillian is an Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University. He is the co-editor of The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of an American Radical Tradition; The New Left Revisited; Protest Nation: The Radical Roots of Modern America, and The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.