The Fan Fiction Studies Reader
Publication Year: 2014
Organized into four thematic sections, the essays address fan-created works as literary artifacts; the relationship between fandom, identity, and feminism; fandom and affect; and the role of creativity and performance in fan activities. Considered as literary artifacts, fan works pose important questions about the nature of authorship, the meaning of “originality,” and modes of transmission. Sociologically, fan fiction is and long has been a mostly female enterprise, from the fanzines of the 1960s to online forums today, and this fact has shaped its themes and its standing among fans. The questions of how and why people become fans, and what the difference is between liking something and being a fan of it, have also drawn considerable scholarly attention, as has the question of how fans perform their fannish identities for diverse audiences.
Thanks to the overlap between fan studies and other disciplines related to popular and cultural studies—including social, digital, and transmedia studies—an increasing number of scholars are turning to fan studies to engage their students. Fan fiction is the most extensively explored aspect of fan works and fan engagement, and so studies of it can often serve as a basis for addressing other aspects of fandom. These classic essays introduce the field’s key questions and some of its major figures. Those new to the field or in search of context for their own research will find this reader an invaluable resource.
Published by: University of Iowa Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Why a Fan Fiction Studies Reader Now?
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A fan fiction studies reader is overdue: fan fiction studies as a field is still in its early stages—as is fan studies. Both are increasingly gaining widespread appeal, however, and the field is quickly growing as an academic interdisciplinary subdiscipline. Fan studies offers a theoretical apparatus that explains much of the appeal of current audience responses and user-generated...
Part 1. Fan Fiction as Literature
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As noted in the introduction, the three essays in this section all address fan-created works as literary artifacts. Although the high-low culture divide continues to be challenged, with scholars now willing to seriously treat such formerly disdained texts as science fiction, comic books, video games, and pornography, fan-created texts have only rarely been the focus of analysis...
1. Textual Poachers
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Michel de Certeau (1984) . . . [characterizes] . . . active reading as “poaching,” an impertinent raid on the literary preserve that takes away only those things that are useful or pleasurable to the reader: “Far from being writers . . . readers are travellers; they move across lands belonging to someone else, like nomads poaching their way across fields they did not write, despoiling...
2. It’s Always 1895: Sherlock Holmes in Cyberspace
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Although Holmes exclaimed in delight at finding an entry on vampires, one wonders how the great detective ever managed to locate anything in the commonplace books that he so assiduously constructed and cross-indexed. A cataloguing method that included both the voyage of the Gloria Scott and Victor Lynch under the letter V does not seem conducive to the quick retrieval...
3. The Death of the Reader? : Literary Theory and the Study of Texts in Popular Culture
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Concerns over meaning and aesthetic value have continually haunted media and cultural studies. In many ways the field of fan studies epitomizes these concerns. The relative neglect of the question of aesthetic value (see also Hills 2007) has made the field of media and cultural studies (hereafter cultural studies) a popular target as a “Mickey Mouse” subject. On the one hand...
Part 2. Fan Identity and Feminism
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From its very beginnings, media fan fiction has been a female, if not feminist, undertaking. We place the beginnings of media fan fiction with the 1967 mimeographed fan zine Spockanalia, edited by and containing fiction and nonfiction by women (Coppa 2006a). Joan Marie Verba’s ( 2003) history of Star Trek zine fandom documents these zines, which originally grew...
4. Pornography by Women for Women, with Love
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Yes, there is pornography written 100% by women for a 100% female readership.
Surely I mean erotic?
Well, let’s just say that to call something by one name when you like it and another when you don’t is like those married ladies we all know who call what they do “making love” while what is done at singles bars is “shallow and...
5. Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines
Patricia Frazer Lamb and Diana l. Veith
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Freud asked, “What do women want?” These quotations point to one possible answer. The first states Leslie Fiedler’s thesis in Love and Death in the American Novel that a mythic quality imbues the male-male bonding often found in American literature, especially between men of different races. The second is from Nightvisions, an ST K/S zine and thus a story of the love..
6. The Sex Lives of Cult Television Characters
Sara Gwenllian Jones
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Two scenes from slash fiction:
Mulder gasped to see Krycek suddenly in front of him. “Alex?” he asked in near disbelief.
In answer Krycek braced himself on his arm, leaned over and kissed Mulder full on the mouth. The kiss was tender and desperate with loneliness that went soul-deep. When they finally broke apart to gasp for air,...
Part 3. Fan Communities and Affect
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Until very recently, the general public’s opinion of fans and fandom could be summed up with a dismissive imperative: “Get a life!” This was the punch line in the now infamous Saturday Night Live skit where William Shatner dismisses his convention audience of eager and costumed fans by declaring their fannish interests unimportant and not part of real life—unlike, presumably...
7. Training New Members
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At Shore Leave, Judy Segal led me through the fanzine rooms. In 1983 there were four parlor rooms filled with the fanzines for sale. She guided me to the more general work, and I bought fanzines from Roberta Rogow, who specializes in, among other things, fanzines for new writers; from Johanna Cantor, an articulate feminist; and from others, while eschewing...
8. Fans and Enthusiasts
Nicholas Abercrombie and Brian Longhurst
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There is now an extensive literature on this topic (for summaries see Baldwin et al. 1998 and Brake 1985), much of which arose from consideration of “deviant” subcultures and the spectacular youth subcultures studied from Birmingham in the 1970s. These literatures have been subjected to an important critique by Fine and Kleinman in a discussion which will be incorporated...
9. Future Men
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The K/Sers are constantly asking themselves why they are drawn to writing their sexual and social utopian romances across the bodies of two men, and why these two men in particular. Their answers range from the pleasures of writing explicit same-sex erotica to the fact that writing a story about two men avoids the built-in inequality of the romance formula, in which dominance and...
Part 4. Fan Creativity and Performance
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Thus far we have focused on fan fiction texts and the cultures surrounding them. The emphasis in this section moves away from text and toward the ways fans perform their fannish identity within and outside of the fan community. Performances are carried out by various participants for diverse audiences—producers and show runners, actors and writers, fan audiences...
10. Performing in Babylon—Performing in Everyday Life
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A discussion of a public figure such as Joe Straczynski must begin with the realization that his persona—as evidenced in interviews, magazine articles, science fiction conventions, books, Web sites, essays, and interactions with fans online—involves a social performance, whether or not he or his fan participants are aware of it. Performance, as defined by sociologist Erving...
11. Writing Bodies in Space: Media Fan Fiction as Theatrical Performance
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I explore a relatively simple proposition: that fan fiction develops in response to dramatic rather than literary modes of storytelling and can therefore be seen to fulfill performative rather than literary criteria. This may seem obvious, as the writing of fan fiction is most strongly and specifically associated with the nearly forty-year-old phenomenon of media fandom,1 which is to say, the...
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Page Count: 276
Illustrations: 3 tables, 2 images, 1 chart
Publication Year: 2014