fandomthennow:

Also, for any new followers, a recap of important info about the project:

  • About the Project (and more about me)
  • How You Can Help:
    The Fandom Then/Now project is not a formal survey or structured questionnaire. Instead, Fandom Then/Now is intended to be an ongoing conversation/brainstorming session where I share past work and some of the questions that are propelling my current research. This is designed to be a participatory process. Along with the past findings, there are questions spread across the website. Please comment on the website (or here using the #fandomthennow tag) whenever you feel inspired to share your own thoughts and observations.
  • What You Should Know:
    This project seeks public comments and feedback from a wide variety of fans. Remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments associated with the Fandom Then/Now project and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the project’s Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

fandomthennow:

image

For many people, fan fiction is as much a part of their reading as commercial literature. Fan fiction websites and archives provide readers with novels, serials, novellas, romantic and erotic stories, non-romantic stories, experimental literature, video and visual art, etc. While fan writers and readers are certainly not exclusively interested in romance, fan writing frequently explores the romantic potential between two characters and fan fiction is often built on romantic foundations. The shift to digital publishing and reading is having a dramatic impact on commercial romance literature. However, what about the kinds of romantic and erotic stories fans produce? How is fan work being affected by the rise in digital publishing? The Fandom Then/Now project is designed to facilitate fan conversations and collect ideas from fans about fan fiction’s past and future. 

What do you notice in the data from 2008? What do you think about the intersections between fan fiction and romantic storytelling? Now, in 2015, what has and hasn’t changed about fans’ reading and writing practices? 

Please visit the Fandom Then/Now website to look at the project and share your thoughts. 

You can also follow the project on Tumblr at fandomthennow.tumblr.com.

The idea of fan cultures, or “fandoms,” cultivating fan fiction writers began at the earliest in the 1920s with societies dedicated to Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, but took off in the late 1960s with the advent of Star Trek fanzines. The negative stereotype of “fans today is that of obsessed geeks, like “Trekkies, who love nothing more than to watch the same installments over and over…” However, this represents a core misunderstanding of what it is to be a fan: that is, to have the “ability to transform personal reaction into social interaction, spectatorial culture into participatory culture… not by being a regular viewer of a particular program but by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity.” Henry Jenkins, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and expert on fan culture, likens fan fiction to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit: that the investment in something is what gives it a meaning rather than any intrinsic merits or economic value. For fans who invest in a television show, book, or movie, that investment sparks production, and reading or viewing sparks writing, until the two are inseparable. They are not watching the same thing over and over, but rather are creating something new instead.

Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, p735

Update: Now with link to an open access version of the paper and correct page, apologies for the typo.

The idea of fan cultures, or “fandoms,” cultivating fan fiction writers began at the earliest in the 1920s with societies dedicated to Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, but took off in the late 1960s with the advent of Star Trek fanzines. The negative stereotype of “fans today is that of obsessed geeks, like “Trekkies, who love nothing more than to watch the same installments over and over…” However, this represents a core misunderstanding of what it is to be a fan: that is, to have the “ability to transform personal reaction into social interaction, spectatorial culture into participatory culture… not by being a regular viewer of a particular program but by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity.” Henry Jenkins, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and expert on fan culture, likens fan fiction to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit: that the investment in something is what gives it a meaning rather than any intrinsic merits or economic value. For fans who invest in a television show, book, or movie, that investment sparks production, and reading or viewing sparks writing, until the two are inseparable. They are not watching the same thing over and over, but rather are creating something new instead.

Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, p735

Update: Now with link to an open access version of the paper and correct page, apologies for the typo.

In Dickens’s own time, however, serialized novels were hugely controversial. Novels themselves were only beginning to find acceptance in polite society; for upper-class commentators, serialization was entirely too much. From our perspective, Dickens is a literary master, an icon of a now threatened culture. From theirs, he represented the threat of something coming.

(…)

Worse, the format seemed dangerously immersive. In 1845, a critic for the patrician North British Review decried it as an unhealthy alternative to conversation or to games like cricket or backgammon. Anticipating Huxley and Bradbury by a century, he railed against the multiplying effects of serialization on the already hallucinatory powers of the novel.

(…)

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as further advances in technology continued to bring down the costs of printing and distribution, books and periodicals evolved into separate businesses and book publishers gradually moved away from serialization. The threat of immersiveness moved with them, first to motion pictures, then to television. Books, movies, TV—all were mass media, and mass media had no mechanism for audience participation. But the reader’s impulse to have a voice in the story didn’t vanish. It went underground and took a new form: fan fiction.

Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, location 1308-1321 (via fanhackers)

In Dickens’s own time, however, serialized novels were hugely controversial. Novels themselves were only beginning to find acceptance in polite society; for upper-class commentators, serialization was entirely too much. From our perspective, Dickens is a literary master, an icon of a now threatened culture. From theirs, he represented the threat of something coming.

(…)

Worse, the format seemed dangerously immersive. In 1845, a critic for the patrician North British Review decried it as an unhealthy alternative to conversation or to games like cricket or backgammon. Anticipating Huxley and Bradbury by a century, he railed against the multiplying effects of serialization on the already hallucinatory powers of the novel.

(…)

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as further advances in technology continued to bring down the costs of printing and distribution, books and periodicals evolved into separate businesses and book publishers gradually moved away from serialization. The threat of immersiveness moved with them, first to motion pictures, then to television. Books, movies, TV—all were mass media, and mass media had no mechanism for audience participation. But the reader’s impulse to have a voice in the story didn’t vanish. It went underground and took a new form: fan fiction.

The relationship between slash fan fiction and comics fandom is problematic not only because of the shift of medium from source text to fan text but also because of the shift of fan community. Comics fandom is often viewed as consisting of heterosexual white men and comics are often explicitly marketed to them, excluding and othering the rest of the audience. Comics fandom online subverts this expectation of audience because the majority of fan authors and creators are women. While canon plots privilege action and conflict, and the problematic depiction of women characters in them is so obvious it hardly need be discussed, comics fan fiction reverses these trends: stories privilege emotional arcs, and female characters are depicted as more recognizably human even when they are secondary to the male characters.

Comics fan works thus become completely transformative because of the shift in both fan space and fan audience: texts that are homophobic become homophiliac, authors and readers who are male become female, and that which had previously been other becomes the new norm. For these reasons, the fans are not just aware but indeed hyperaware of their own identity as subaltern and subversive practitioners.

Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom (via fanhackers)

Hmm… I have such mixed feelings about the idea that any area of fandom is “completely transformative.” I don’t think any area of fan culture can fully transform and escape from problematic texts. Fans often carry the problems of the source texts with them into fan work. Sometimes they make efforts to address issues and sometimes they don’t. 

The relationship between slash fan fiction and comics fandom is problematic not only because of the shift of medium from source text to fan text but also because of the shift of fan community. Comics fandom is often viewed as consisting of heterosexual white men and comics are often explicitly marketed to them, excluding and othering the rest of the audience. Comics fandom online subverts this expectation of audience because the majority of fan authors and creators are women. While canon plots privilege action and conflict, and the problematic depiction of women characters in them is so obvious it hardly need be discussed, comics fan fiction reverses these trends: stories privilege emotional arcs, and female characters are depicted as more recognizably human even when they are secondary to the male characters.

Comics fan works thus become completely transformative because of the shift in both fan space and fan audience: texts that are homophobic become homophiliac, authors and readers who are male become female, and that which had previously been other becomes the new norm. For these reasons, the fans are not just aware but indeed hyperaware of their own identity as subaltern and subversive practitioners.

Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom (via fanhackers)

Hmm… I have such mixed feelings about the idea that any area of fandom is “completely transformative.” I don’t think any area of fan culture can fully transform and escape from problematic texts. Fans often carry the problems of the source texts with them into fan work. Sometimes they make efforts to address issues and sometimes they don’t.