ABD was founded in summer 2019 by a few Stanford PhD students who felt that the narrative of the graduate-level experience of academia is incomplete. They were frustrated by aspects of the academic culture that decentralize identity, humanity, and vulnerability. ABD was born out of a desire to advocate for structural and cultural change in academia–change that is slow to occur through facts and data alone.

ABD‘s goal was to demonstrate the human side of graduate school through artistic expression, give voice to graduate students, spark conversation at our campuses, and change the academic culture. In a culture saturated by small-talk about “what we’re working on” and/or a single narrative from the dominant voices about what graduate school is supposed to look like, ABD hopes to be a venue for real, vulnerable, and expressive counter-narratives about all but the dissertation.


ABD is a zine format intentionally–committed to being an independent publication and nodding to the subversiveness of zine culture.

ABD publishes literary and visual art. Visual art is published in black and white. ABD also publishes visual art in the form of posters: color art with a message in large font. Posters are published in b&w in the zine and displayed in full color online and at the launch party.

ABD’s mission and commitments:

  • Give voice to the struggles and triumphs of PhD students. 
    • Publish works that explore the human experience in this level of academia. 
    • Elevate works that examine issues of identity, suffering, oppression, justice, and more. Elevate progressive works that question the norms in academia. Elevate works that “break the bubble”–that deal with themes relevant outside the ivory tower. 
    • Center voices from individuals of marginalized identities, including: voices from people of color, indigenous voices, LGBTQ voices, first gen and/or low income voices, voices with families/dependents, and voices from folks with disabilities. 
  • Foster further conversations on campus about the human side of the PhD experience
    • Conversations between peers, faculty, and university leaders
    • Conversations that lead to institutional change and reform.