We argue that the radicality of the digital humanities is the potential it offers to expand our understanding to the vertical plane, or more precisely, planes of research. In vertical interdisciplinarity, there is a rich layering in both the method and the practice of teaching and scholarship, and this poses challenges to the very discursive categories employed. The disruptive components are the creative, aesthetic, and non-alphabetic elements, which once deployed vertically within a field radically transform its formal properties. If horizontal strategies make us imagine new narrative lines within a field, then the vertical approach forces us to rethink the narrator, what narrative form could be, and how we think, reflect, critique and express.

Virginia Kuhn & Vicki Callahan, “Nomadic Archives: Remix and the Drift to Praxis”

With the popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy and commercial romance publishers wanting to build on the trend, I suspect there are more serial romances available to [commercial romance] readers today than there were in 2008. Fan fiction stories continue to be produced as works-in-progress or works in a series, as they always have. Fan fiction also continues to deal with source-texts that change and complicate the character relationships fans are interested in. However, fans can track these updates much more easily than ever with Archive of Our Own subscriptions or by following specific Tumblr tags. Does this mean that serials are more available to fans as well?

From Fandom Then/Now: Romance & Fan Fiction

What do you think? Share your thoughts at Fandom Then/Now.

fandomthennow:

Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last round of posts I was focusing on things I noticed as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance. So far, I’ve touched on narrative arcs and world building and character relationship development (p1, p2). The last story elements I noticed were trends regarding seriality and narrative instability (p1, p2).

Here are some of the differences I’ve been noticing in ways that commercial romance and fan fiction “do” seriality. What do you think?

Three: Seriality & Instability (p3)

I wonder about how [seriality] plays out in fan fiction and commercial romances today. Even when there’s a larger story world with a serial narrative, many of today’s popular commercial romance stories still focus on one relationship per-book. (For example, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series strikes a fascinating balance between one couple per book and a much larger serial arc focused on a world on the brink of social collapse.) With the popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy and commercial romance publishers wanting to build on the trend, I suspect there are more serial romances available to readers today than there were in 2008. Fan fiction stories continue to be produced as works-in-progress or works in a series, as they always have. Fan fiction also continues to deal with source-texts that change and complicate the character relationships fans are interested in. However, fans can track these updates much more easily than ever with Archive of Our Own subscriptions or by following specific Tumblr tags. Does this mean that serials are more available to fans as well?

What do you think, does fan fiction feel any more serial to you today than it did in past years?

What do you think of my findings? Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

[In 2008] the commercial romance stories I read seemed to focus more on creating a series of linked stories set in one story world. For example, at the time J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series was very popular. In this series, the stories focus on one couple at a time, one book at a time. This ‘series’ more than ‘serial’ approach seems to convey a stronger sense of stability and permanence to the relationship each book focuses on. Even if the characters appear again in a later story, their reappearance often takes the form of an update, rather than an entire revisiting of the relationship. The more serial works of fan fiction I read provided a significant contrast to this approach. Many of these stories returned again and again to the same set of protagonists, constantly building and rebuilding their relationship based on what challenges the source-text might throw at fan authors.

From Fandom Then/Now: Romance & Fan Fiction

What do you think? Share your thoughts at Fandom Then/Now.

The Future Of ‘Short Attention Span Theater’

A few reactions/questions re. this interview with Jessica Helfand, author of Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture:

This skimming generation is going to be producing the media we consume, which Helfand calls both an opportunity and a challenge. “A friend of mine actually referred to this recently as, this is the culture of narrative deprivation,” she says.

“These are kids who don’t watch an entire episode of Saturday Night Live, they just go and watch the bits they want to see. They wait till a series comes out on Netflix, and they watch it all at once instead of the classic episodic nature.” Moreover, she adds, they prefer to watch things alone, on their own laptops — which also affects the viewing experience.

Helfand says she’s trying to channel that impatience, that desire to control the consumption of media, into creating a better visual, more compelling experience on the screen — an experience tailored to shorter attention spans.

Obviously the “narrative deprivation” comment isn’t coming from Helfand, but it is still a concern I feel confused by here in relation to the examples given. Watching an entire season of a show on Netflix doesn’t seem like narrative deprivation to me as much as an abundance of narrative. In particular, considering that shows are increasingly serial and less episodic, this would be an increasingly complex set of larger and smaller narrative arcs, which would seem to require a great deal of attentiveness and careful viewing from person watching. 

Also, the accusation of impatience here seems tricky. Is it impatient to wait the year plus until a DVD is released? Is it impatient to sit down and watching something in full for long stretches of time? That doesn’t seem like impatience to me as much as increased flexibility  in terms of how and when content is viewed. It also seems to reflect the needs of audiences who may not be able to afford cable, as well as a shift in labor away from predictable 9-5 hours with clear, work free, periods of leisure time.

The Future Of ‘Short Attention Span Theater’