About Liminal Studies
Liminal Studies was created in an attempt to document those print publications that have emerged from a certain location on the borderlands of the small press scene since the rise of digital technology. These are imprints that continue to be produced in physical form despite the dominance of digital media. The criteria for the inclusion of an imprint here is that its output must be offered in print form and its point of view at least in part be fueled by a somewhat distinct range of influences for which we currently have no comprehensive label. These influences include psychogeography, deep topography, and hauntology, with the occasional influx of Situationist or surrealist sympathies. These imprints tend to be concerned with urban space, landscape, memory, and how we interact with these things. Though often very different in content and form, they are the descendants of the first wave of modernist little magazines in the early 20th century, the Mimeograph Revolution of the 1960s and 70s, and the explosion of zines in the 80s and 90s. This is not an organized movement and some will undoubtedly even question the relevance of their inclusion here. I would contend, however, that those who make up this little world are what sociologists call a social group. As John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid have pointed out in their work on documentation theory, publication often works as the “glue” in the creation of social groups: “a sense of community arises from reading the same text.”
In the same sense that these imprints do not represent a movement, they also do not constitute a genre. Within these publications one will find fiction, essays, poetry, and art; with experimental, mainstream, and academic writing all being represented. Most of what is published does evince a certain level of intellectualism, however. There is also no unifying political orientation, although most operate from a point of view that might broadly be called the anti-authoritarian Left. Regardless of genre or politics, most of these small presses are engaged at some level in poiesis: a creative process, an action, that attempts to transform how we see reality. Many embrace a view of existence that attempts to uncover hidden meanings and hidden connections in the otherwise mundane.
The decisions made as to what belongs here are of course subjective. I approach this material from the point of view of enthusiast, practitioner and contributor, and as someone with professional training in librarianship and archival theory. My intent is to balance these three angles into something coherent that at least smacks of objectivity. In the long run, however, any exclusions or errors are my own.
Stephen Canner is an archivist , independent scholar, and musician (The Victor Mourning). His work has appeared in Folk Horror: Field Studies (Wyrd Harvest Press, 2015), Folk Horror: Harvest Hymns (Wyrd Harvest Press, 2017), and The Accidental Archive (2018).