The write stuff: U.S. serial print culture from conservatives out to neo-Nazis

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Author: Chip Berlet
Date: Winter 2008
From: Library Trends(Vol. 56, Issue 3)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 14,027 words

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Insufficient scholarly attention has been devoted to alternative or "oppositional" serials from the political right, even though a number of scholars have used these materials as primary sources for studies in several academic disciplines. This overview reviews some of the terms used to describe these serials, explores the development of distinct post-WWII right-wing ideologies, and proposes that these serials usefully can be analyzed through a sociological lens as movement literature that both reflects and shapes different sectors through frames and narratives. How oppositional serials can play a role in constructing rhetorical pipelines and echo chambers to take movement grievances and push them into mainstream political policy initiatives is explored. The sectors defined and examined are the secular right, religious right, and xenophobic right. Examples from each sector are provided, with selected periodicals highlighted in detail.


Conservatives generally cannot tolerate neo-Nazis. The feeling is mutual. Much wood pulp is expended as they denounce each other in print periodicals. The great bulk of print material from the U.S. political right, however, is devoted to attacks on politicians, political liberals, and progressives. Just which perceived left-wing policies and programs are considered the primary subjects for denunciation depends on the sector of the political right doing the publishing. Conservatives, libertarians, the Christian right, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, patriots, and the extreme right (folks who tend to dress up in white robes or black uniforms) all maintain distinct print subcultures.

Books, flyers, pamphlets, and posters are part of the right-wing print culture; but by reviewing serial publications in myriad forms we clearly see that newspapers, magazines, and newsletters provide a lush forest for scholarly analyses of text and image. This study will review oppositional right-wing serials, with an emphasis on describing different print forms within competing political sectors during the post-WWII period. Danky (in press) observes, "Scholarly attention to America's ideological conservatives, even reactionaries, to say nothing of racists and homegrown fascists, has been scant." This began to change in the 1980s, as many of the citations herein demonstrate, but the situation is still lopsided.

A librarian will have no trouble finding anthologies of writing from liberal and left alternative serials (see for example Armstrong, 2005; Conlin, 1974; Streitmatter, 2001); or scholarly journal articles about these types of periodicals. A number of libraries collect alternative periodicals, but they are primarily on the political left (see Danky, 1974). The astonishingly detailed service Alternative Press Index covers progressive social and political movements. Finding information about alternative serials on the political right is another matter. From time to time someone compiles a list of groups on the political right and includes mentions of their serial titles, but these efforts are either sporadic or incomplete or both. It is difficult to locate scholarly material on the "history or impact of overtly conservative alternative media" (Streitmatter, 1999, p. 11).

Anthologies from mainstream conservative media exist, a specialty of Reader's Digest as a magazine (and who can forget its "Condensed Books" series?). This study, however, is not looking at mainstream conservative serials...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Berlet, Chip. "The write stuff: U.S. serial print culture from conservatives out to neo-Nazis." Library Trends, vol. 56, no. 3, 2008, p. 570+. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A175525496