Cinema and Media Studies Fan Studies
by
Henry Jenkins
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 September 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 August 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0027

Introduction

Fan studies is a field of scholarly research focused on media fans and fan cultures. Fans might be broadly defined as individuals who maintain a passionate connection to popular media, assert their identity through their engagement with and mastery over its contents, and experience social affiliation around shared tastes and preferences. Fan cultures are the social and cultural infrastructures that support fan activities and interests. In a narrower sense, fandom sometimes refers to a shared cultural space that emerged from science fiction fandom in the early 20th century, which was reshaped by Star Trek fans in the 1960s and which has since expanded to incorporate forms of cultural production mostly by women around genre entertainment. Within fan studies, there has often been a split between those who focus on individual fans and those who study a larger community. The roots of fan studies can be traced back to early work in the Birmingham cultural studies tradition on media audiences but increasingly fan studies focuses on groups and individuals who have self-defined as fans of particular programs, performers, genres, and media as opposed to audiences that have a more casual relationship to the content of popular media. Fan studies began as the study of fan reception but has increasingly been recentered around forms of fan cultural production, especially as new forms of digital culture have rendered participatory culture practices more visible. One key dividing line in fan studies is between predigital and digital era accounts, although many argue that fans have been early adopters of communication technologies and that their social and cultural practices, forged more around affinities than geographies, prefigure more contemporary forms of virtual or online communities. Apart from a section on key works that informed the early development of fan studies, most cited works here explicitly address fan studies issues and concerns, rather than deal with closely related studies of exhibition, reception, consumption, celebrity culture, transmedia entertainment, and audiences. The focus here is on works that contribute to the larger conceptual models that have emerged in fan studies as a specific theoretical and methodological tradition. Included works focus primarily on fans of film and television rather than of popular fiction, games, sports, or music although exceptions are made where such work has been widely embraced by others working in the fan studies tradition. This bibliography starts with a consideration of how the phenomenon of fandom developed out of earlier historic practices (see Historical Perspectives), followed by an exploration of how fan studies emerged as its own, specific field out of earlier works on media audiences and subcultures (see Roots of Fan Studies and Foundational Works). Next, this bibliography focuses on how scholars have analyzed fan communities as sites of interpretation and evaluation (see Fan Taste), production (see Fan Production), and social and economic exchange (see Online Communities and the Digital Economy). Subsequent sections consider fandom’s potential contributions to education (see Learning through Fandom) and politics (see Fan Activism), both topics that have surfaced in more recent research within fan studies. Finally, this bibliography adopts a more global perspective, dealing especially with work that examines the Otaku Culture of Japan, highlighting its similarities to and differences from Western fan practices.

General Overviews

Many early works in fan studies (see Bacon-Smith 1992 and Jenkins 1992, both cited under Foundational Works) sought to describe the full scope and range of fan cultural production, but there has been an increasing focus over time on more specialized accounts of specific fan communities and practices. Booth 2010, Hills 2002, Sandvoss 2005, Staiger 2005, and Tulloch and Jenkins 1995 provide overviews of the existing body of fan theory and research while advancing and illustrating their own conceptual models. Bacon-Smith 2000 describes the history and sociology of the science fiction fan community, expanding on the author’s earlier work—which focuses on female fans—to also consider male fan interests. Jenkins 2006 uses fan reception and production as starting points for a more far-reaching account of how media gets produced and consumed in an era of participatory culture, collective intelligence, and networked communication. Core debates here center on whether the focus of fan studies should be on individuals or communities, whether the focus should be on meaning-construction or affect and pleasure, and whether fans should be seen as different from mainstream audiences by degree or by kind. Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998 develops a taxonomy for examining the different kinds of fan investments.

  • Abercrombie, Nicholas, and Brian Longhurst. Audiences: A Sociological Theory of Performance and Imagination. London: SAGE, 1998.

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    Describes fandom as an intermediate space between consumption and production; develops a continuum of possible consumer identities, distinguishing among fans, cultists, and enthusiasts.

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  • Bacon-Smith, Camille. Science Fiction Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

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    Sustained consideration of the fan community around science fiction literature and its relationship to the companies that help sustain the genre. Provides insight into the ways fandom has historically functioned here as a training ground for professional authors. Key backdrop for understanding media science fiction fan cultures.

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  • Booth, Paul. Digital Fandom: New Media Studies. New York: Lang, 2010.

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    Using the alternate reality game as a central metaphor, explores the “playfulness” of contemporary digital culture with a strong focus on wikis, role play, and the “digi-gratis” economy that has emerged around online fandom.

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  • Hills, Matt. Fan Cultures. London: Routledge, 2002.

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    Explores and models a range of different theoretical and methodological approaches to fan studies. Includes a critique of what Hills sees as the rationalist bias of early work in the field. Attempts to reclaim the roles of fantasy and affect in the formation of fan preferences and identities.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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    Adopts a fan-centric approach for understanding the increasingly complex relations between producers and consumers at the intersection between old and new media.

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  • Sandvoss, Cornel. Fans: The Mirror of Consumption. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2005.

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    Attempts to recenter fan studies by moving away from the study of fan communities and focusing instead on the emotional investments of individual fans, which Sandvoss understands through the lens of narcissism.

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  • Staiger, Janet. “Fans and Fan Behaviors.” In Media Reception Studies. By Janet Staiger, 95–114. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

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    Traces the move from pathological to celebratory accounts of fan engagement and participation.

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  • Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. London: Routledge, 1995.

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    Illustrates a range of different models and methods for analyzing fan responses to science fiction through case studies of audiences for the British Doctor Who and the American Star Trek. Discusses fans as a “powerless elite” that seeks to shape how popular texts are consumed and evaluated. Looks at fan culture in relation to debates about class, gender, sexuality, and technology. Also see Overviews of Specific Fandoms.

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Methodology

While research methodology for fan studies is discussed in many of the general introductions, these works are especially strong in their focus on the frameworks and practices associated with research in the field. Tulloch 2000 offers perhaps the most sustained account of such key topics as the relationship between the researchers and their subjects. Hills 2005 uses fan studies to help explain the larger project of media and cultural theory. Gray, et al. 2007 offers an overview of the evolution of fan studies as a field. Busse and Gray 2011 reassesses the relevance of fan studies for understanding 21st-century media audiences.

  • Busse, Kristina, and Jonathan Gray. “Fan Cultures and Fan Communities.” In The Handbook of Media Audiences. Edited by Virginia Nightingale, 425–443. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444340525Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines where fan studies has gone since the 1990s from the perspective of two key scholars. Proposes some new questions to ask in the future.

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  • Gray, Jonathan A., Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington. “Why Study Fans?” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 1–18. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Offers valuable periodization of the emergence and evolution of fan studies over the past twenty years of research.

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  • Hills, Matt. How to Do Things with Cultural Theory. London: Hodder Arnold, 2005.

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    Provides a general overview of the work of theory within academic culture. Draws heavily on Hills’s own research into fan theory and cult media.

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  • Tulloch, John. “Cult, Talk, and Audiences.” In Watching Television Audiences: Cultural Theories and Methods. By John Tulloch, 202–248. London: Arnold, 2000.

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    Provides perhaps the strongest assessment yet published on the methodological assumptions shaping different models of fan studies (with strong focus on the work of Henry Jenkins).

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Anthologies

The expanding scope of fan studies has been defined and illustrated through a series of highly influential anthologies, each of which captures a different moment in the growth of the field. Lewis 1992 emerged in the midst of what many see as the foundational period of fan studies, during which it evolved from reception and audience studies to develop its own conceptual and methodological models. Published six years after Lewis 1992, Harris and Alexander 1998 provides a collection of contributions that are reacting to the first wave of published studies and operating as part of a field of shared research. Le Guern 2002 attempts to bridge conceptual and linguistic divides to situate work by English- and French-language researchers on cult media and fan culture side by side. Hellekson and Busse 2006 captures an emerging generation of “aca-fans” who draw on their knowledge as active participants in fan writing communities to inform their scholarship and who also seek to focus less on fan reception than on genres and modes of fan production. Gray, et al. 2007 offers an expansion of the space of fan studies to include many genres and debates that had been ignored by previous accounts and to explore the implications of fan studies for our understanding of globalization. Ford, et al. 2011 includes fans as active participants alongside scholars and industry insiders over the long-term viability of the US soap opera.

  • Ford, Sam, Abigail De Kosnik, and C. Lee Harrington, eds. The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

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    Rich anthology of perspectives on the crisis confronting US soap opera. Includes voices of fans, academics, and industry insiders. Section 4, “Learning from Diverse Audiences” (pp. 231–315), offers many takes on contemporary soap fan cultures.

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  • Gray, Jonathan A., Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, eds. Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Offers a more expansive understanding of the fan. Includes examination of fans of the news, high culture, and even theory. Explores non-Western fan practices and situates fans in a broader historical context.

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  • Harris, Cheryl, and Alison Alexander, eds. Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 1998.

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    Captures the growing focus of fan studies on science fiction and soap opera as well as the increasingly central role that digital media plays in fan community building and cultural expression.

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  • Hellekson, Karen, and Kristina Busse, eds. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Shifts attention from the study of fan-produced texts as signs of the reception of mass media texts to the examination of fan fiction as a literary and artistic phenomenon. Argues fan texts are “works in progress” that emerge from the social interactions of fan communities. Introduced a whole new generation of fan scholars who would reframe the conversation for the coming decade.

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  • Le Guern, Philippe, ed. Les Cultes Médiatiques: Culture Fan et Oeuvres Cultes. Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2002.

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    Brings together an international mix of scholars focused on cult media and fan participation. Published as a mix of French- and English-language essays.

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  • Lewis, Lisa A., ed. The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. London: Routledge, 1992.

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    First important anthology of work in fan studies. Includes key contributions from Lawrence Grossberg, John Fiske, Henry Jenkins, Jolie Jolson, Barbara Ehrenreich, and others. In many ways marked the emergence of fan studies as something distinct from the cultural studies of media audiences.

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Journals, Blogs, and Wikis

Two journals—the short-lived Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media and the now-thriving Transformative Works and Cultures—have specialized in the study of fans and cult media audiences, while several other more general-interest publications such as Flow TV have made fan studies a recurring topic of consideration. Several influential fan studies researchers, including Henry Jenkins (Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins), Jason Mittell (Just TV), and Nancy Baym (Online Fandom) maintain blogs that regularly feature interviews, essays, and other materials of interest to those doing research on fans. Moreover, several online resources (Metafandom and Fanlore) are published by fans who want to better understand their own communities and practices.

Overviews of Specific Fandoms

Although media coverage has tended to focus on fans in relation to specific media franchises, fan studies has most often sought to examine the interconnections among different fandoms or to develop more generalized theories of fan culture. There have been, however, some important works that document the diverse range of fan practices and communities that have emerged around shared texts, including Harry Potter (Anelli 2008), Star Wars (Brooker 2002), Star Trek (Lichtenberg, et al. 1975; Tulloch and Jenkins 1995), and Doctor Who (Tulloch and Jenkins 1995).

  • Anelli, Melissa. Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon. New York: Pocket Books, 2008.

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    As the title suggests, an expansive and personal account of the cult phenomenon around the Harry Potter franchise. Includes extensive discussions of the development of fan websites and podcasts, the wizard rock movement, and the Harry Potter Alliance.

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  • Brooker, Will. Using the Force: Creativity, Community and Star Wars Fans. New York: Continuum, 2002.

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    Describes a range of different critical and creative responses to George Lucas’s film franchise. Especially useful in terms of its discussion of the distinction between official canon and unofficial fanon.

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  • Lichtenberg, Jacqueline, Sondra Marshak, and Joan Winston. Star Trek Lives! New York: Bantam, 1975.

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    Account of the letter-writing campaign to save Star Trek as well as the emergence of early forms of fan culture. Details what was the entryway for the next generation of fans and a blueprint for many subsequent fandoms.

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  • Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. London: Routledge, 1995.

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    Illustrates the diversity of fan interpretations, canons, and practices surrounding Star Trek in the United States and Doctor Who in England and Australia. Reads fans as a “powerless elite” that seeks to shape how texts are read but cannot shape the actual production process. Includes consideration of queer fan activism with Star Trek. Also see General Overviews.

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Documentaries

The more visually spectacular and performative aspects of fan culture have been captured by a series of documentaries, generally focused on a single media franchise and its fans. These films often isolate the specific individuals represented from a larger fan culture (which extends across multiple texts and has much longer traditions). Some of these films are sympathetic to fans (Cordova 2005, Philippe 2011), while others use fans as a foil for the amusement of “normal” viewers and thus reproduce some pathologizing stereotypes (Koury 2007, Nygard 1999). Schuyler and Schuyler 2008 represents the best of a growing number of fan-made documentaries, in which fans seek to record and explain their own cultural practices. Coppa 2008 was produced by the Organization for Transformative Works as a resource for Project New Media Literacies to help teach young people about fan vidding as a critical and creative practice.

Historical Perspectives

Although there is not yet a definitive account of the history of media fandom, there is now a series of more localized studies that detail fan activities during specific historical eras. Darnton 2009, for example, explores the shifting relations between readers and writers in early modern Europe. One key strand of research examines the emergence of amateur forms of cultural production, including the amateur radio movement (Douglas 1989), self-publishing practices (Petrik 1992), and science fiction fan cultures (Ross 1991), while another trajectory (Dell 2006; Ehrenreich, et al. 1992; Fuller 1996; Stacey 1994) traces the shifting relations between female spectators and media stars.

  • Darnton, Robert. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity.” In The Great Cat Massacre, and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. By Robert Darnton, 215–256. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

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    Written by a distinguished cultural historian of early modern Europe. Emphatic that Rousseau’s readers were not fans in the modern sense of the word, yet their deep personal attachment to the author and their efforts to integrate aspects of his texts into their everyday lives certainly foreshadow many practices associated with contemporary fan cultures.

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  • Dell, Chad. The Revenge of Hatpin Mary: Women, Professional Wrestling and Fan Culture in the 1950s. New York: Lang, 2006.

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    Through oral history and close examination of women’s scrapbooks, Dell examines the female-centered fan culture that emerged around wrestling in the early era of US television and considers how it prefigures later fan practices.

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  • Douglas, Susan J. “Popular Culture and Populist Technology: The Amateur Operators, 19061912.” In Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899–1922. By Susan J. Douglas, 187–215. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

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    Describes the role of amateurs in the early history of radio—a group that had strong overlaps with early science fiction fandom largely due to the influence of pulp magazine editor Hugo Gernsback.

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  • Ehrenreich, Barbara, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs. “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 84–106. London: Routledge, 1992.

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    Suggests Beatlemania represents one of the first steps toward a female sexual revolution, as young girls asserted their desires in public.

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  • Fuller, Kathryn H. At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.

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    Describes fandom in the silent film era in terms of both audience interests in celebrities and amateur desire to enter the moving picture industry.

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  • Petrik, Paula. “The Youngest Fourth Estate: The Novelty Toy Printing Press and Adolescence, 1870–1886.” In Small Worlds: Children and Adolescents in America, 18501950. Edited by Elliott West and Paula Petrik, 125–142. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

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    Traces the origins of the National Amateur Press Association to the 19th-century movement to use toy printing presses to create newsletters, which provided the infrastructure and model for subsequent zine publishers.

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  • Ross, Andrew. “Getting Out of the Gernsback Continuum.” In Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits. By Andrew Ross, 101–135. London: Verso, 1991.

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    Documents the political debates and struggles that shaped the early history of US science fiction fandom.

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  • Stacey, Jackie. Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship. London: Routledge, 1994.

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    Explores the ways British women recall their fanship of US movies during World War II. Focuses on the performance of fan identities in everyday life.

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Roots of Fan Studies

Contemporary fan studies is an offshoot of audience research, subculture theory, and reception studies, especially as practiced by the Birmingham School and its followers in the 1980s and beyond. The full range of this tradition is beyond the scope of this entry, but here are some key contributions that mark the transition from audience research to fan studies. Hebdige 1979 establishes a focus on appropriation as a central aspect of meaning production, while the critique of Hebdige in McRobbie 1991 opens up a space for exploring less public and more domesticated kinds of media consumption practiced by girls and women. Brown 1990 and Seiter, et al. 1991 capture the transition from “audience research” focused around geographic and demographic communities to “fan studies” work focused on affinity groups. Fiske 2011 reframes the Birmingham tradition for a US audience, helping to inspire many of those who would be the first generation of fan studies researchers. Ang 1985 uses letters by fans and antifans to complicate previous assumptions about the pleasures of mass culture. Finally, Radway 1984, working from an alternative tradition, explores how canon formation works within disreputable forms of cultural production, such as romance novels.

  • Ang, Ien. Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. Translated by Della Couling. London: Methuen, 1985.

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    Interprets a corpus of letters written by fans and antifans of primetime soap opera Dallas to develop a more complex vocabulary for thinking about the pleasures of consuming melodramatic texts.

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  • Brown, Mary Ellen, ed. Television and Women’s Culture: The Politics of the Popular. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1990.

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    Key anthology that captures the emergence of fan studies from its roots in the study of media audiences and subcultures. Includes important early discussions of gossip and soap opera fans.

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  • Fiske, John. Television Culture. 2d ed. London: Routledge, 2011.

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    Distinctive approach to understanding how audiences make sense of television. Draws on semiotic and Birmingham cultural studies approaches. Helped to promote the ethnographic investigation of media audiences and to pave the way for fan studies. Originally published in 1987, this new edition includes a detailed introduction (“Why John Fiske Still Matters” by Henry Jenkins) that situates this framework in relation to postdigital developments.

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  • Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen, 1979.

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    Focuses on how subcultures construct meanings through resources they borrow, appropriate, or remix from their parent cultures. Provides a core foundation for the concept of fans as resistant audiences.

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  • McRobbie, Angela. Feminism and Youth Culture: From “Jackie” to “Just Seventeen.” Boston: Hyman, 1991.

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    From within the Birmingham School tradition, critiques earlier work on subcultures, stressing the importance of what takes place inside girls’ bedrooms as well as what takes place in masculine street cultures. Opened up a space for examining female-centered fan cultures.

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  • Radway, Janice A. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

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    Informed by American studies and literature perspectives, applied ethnographic methods to examine a community of women readers of romances, with a strong focus on the process of appraisal and interpretation.

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  • Seiter, Ellen, Hans Borchers, Gabriele Kreutzner, and Eva-Maria Warth, eds. Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power. London: Routledge, 1991.

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    Key time capsule of the state of audience research at the end of the 1980s, out of which contemporary fan studies emerged. Includes significant early work on soap opera fans alongside more conventional kinds of audience studies focused on specific geographic or demographic populations.

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Foundational Works

The early 1990s represented a key turning point in the emergence of fan studies as a distinctive strand of research with the publication of Bacon-Smith 1992 and Jenkins 1992, both widely seen as providing a blueprint for the next decade of research on this topic. The emphasis of fan studies on fandoms related to science fiction dates from this period, as does the strong emphasis on fan fiction—especially the homoerotic slash genre—as a form of cultural appropriation and resistance. These themes surface not only in Jenkins 1992 but also in Penley 1991 and Penley 1992. Amesley 1989 explores ways fandom operates as an interpretive community. Bacon-Smith 1992 describes strategies for managing risk. Fiske 1992 applies Pierre Bourdieu’s work on taste cultures to fandom. Grossberg 1992 develops a widely cited theory of affect, and Penley 1992 applies psychoanalytic theories of fantasy. Each moved away from a focus on meaning making (as seen in early audience research) toward an emphasis on the emotional dimensions of fandom—ideas already prefigured by Ang 1985 (cited under Roots of Fan Studies) and developed further by Hills 2002 and Sandvoss 2005 (both cited under General Overviews). Jenkins 1992 and Jenson 1992 directly tackle some of the negative stereotypes surrounding fandom, including the pathologization of fans by earlier sociological and anthropological accounts, while also suggesting ways that fan mastery of texts mirrors and may even surpass scholarly practices.

  • Amesley, Cassandra. “How to Watch Star Trek.” Cultural Studies 3.3 (1989): 323–339.

    DOI: 10.1080/09502388900490221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ethnographic account of a fan collective viewing of a Star Trek episode. Seeks to map core evaluative and interpretive norms shaping the community’s shared experiences. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Bacon-Smith, Camille. Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

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    Ethnographic account of how female fans manage risk and express their shared fantasies through consumption and production of fan texts. Includes key considerations of fan fiction and fanvids.

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  • Fiske, John. “The Cultural Economy of Fandom.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 30–49. London: Routledge, 1992.

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    Applies the theories of taste cultures developed by Pierre Bourdieu to talk about the forms of “discrimination” and “distinction” practiced within fan cultures. Claims fan culture represents a more intense form of the selectivity and meaning making practiced by mainstream audiences.

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  • Grossberg, Lawrence. “Is There a Fan in the House? The Affective Sensibility of Fandom.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 50–65. London: Routledge, 1992.

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    Offers an initial model of the emotional investments that fans make in texts. Forms foundation for later work on how and why popular culture matters to the people who consume it.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    Introduces the concept of fan culture as “textual poaching.” Shares useful snapshot of a transitional moment in fandom’s historical development as pre-Internet fandom gave way to digital practices.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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    Collects more than twenty years’ worth of Jenkins’s essays about fans and participatory culture, from his initial “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten” (pp. 37–60) essay through more recent work on collective intelligence, digital games, and globalization.

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  • Jenson, Joli. “Fandom as Pathology: The Consequences of Characterization.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 9–29. London: Routledge, 1992.

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    Critique of the double standards that apply positive terms to consumers and scholars of high culture and negative terms to consumers and scholars of popular culture.

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  • Penley, Constance. “Brownian Motion: Women, Tactics, and Technology.” In Technoculture. Edited by Constance Penley and Andrew Ross, 135–161. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

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    Explores female fanzine publishing as a practice that deploys grassroots technologies toward alternative ends. Questions why many fans resist calling themselves feminists despite their clear critique of gender relations.

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  • Penley, Constance. “Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Study of Popular Culture.” In Cultural Studies. Edited by Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler, 479–500. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    Celebrates slash fan fiction as a vital form of women’s writing that critiques traditional constructions of masculinity. Reads fan fiction through the lens of psychoanalytic writing about erotic fantasy.

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Fan Taste

One key way of understanding fandoms is through an understanding of their processes of shared meaning making and evaluation—in other words, through their tastes. Consideration of fandoms as interpretive communities date back at least to Amesley 1989 and as taste cultures to Fiske 1992 (both cited under Foundational Works). Askwith 2009 shows how competing theories of television production shape fan evaluation of Lost as a cult series, while Jancovich 2002 digs deeper into Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of cultural distinction to explore how cult media offers forms of subcultural capital. McKee 2001 offers alternative models for examining popular aesthetics, and McKee 2007 documents different systems of appraisal that operate within various popular genres and traditions. McLaughlin 1996 examines how theory gets formed outside of academia, viewing fans as a source of cultural analysis. Pustz 1999 shows how recent and historic developments in the aesthetics of comic books reward fan investments and mastery of the medium. Sconce 1995 explores the fan practices that grew up around “trash” or “psychotronic” films, often involving a reversal of the aesthetic criteria that operate within other cinéaste communities. Lastly, Spence 2005 explores the pleasures of regularly viewing soap operas. Subsections that follow focus on the relations between popular and high culture, the practices of antifans (who have intense oppositional investments), queer perspectives on fandom and sexual desire, fan pilgrimages and tourism, and the values of collecting.

Fan Studies and High Culture

Although most fan studies work focuses on consumers of popular media, some accounts—such as Brooker 2005, Pearson 2007, and Tulloch 2007—have reversed the lens to consider what fan studies might contribute to our understanding of those most invested in high art and canonical literature. Debates here center on the similarities and differences between fans and connoisseurs and the ways that cultural hierarchies influence the kinds of relationships that we forge with media texts and producers.

  • Brooker, Will. “‘It Is Love’: The Lewis Carroll Society as a Fan Community.” American Behavioral Scientist 48.7 (2005): 859–880.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002764204273173Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores similarities (in terms of close reading practices and strong sense of community) and differences (in terms of cultural prestige) between media fans and an appreciation society for Alice in Wonderland’s author. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Pearson, Roberta. “Bachies, Bardies, Trekkies and Sherlockians.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 98–109. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Examines how class and social status are ascribed differently to media fans and enthusiasts of literature and classical music.

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  • Tulloch, John. “Fans of Chekhov: Re-approaching ‘High Culture.’” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 110–124. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Uses a fan studies approach to examine people who attend performances of Anton Chekhov’s plays.

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Antifans

The intense focus on fans and fan cultures has led to a reconsideration of other modes of engagement with television, including nonfans who are indifferent to particular programs and antifans who develop intense dislike, even hatred, of them. From the start, Fiske 1992 and Jenkins 1992 (both cited under Foundational Works) debated whether fans were different from other viewers in terms of the degree of their investment or in terms of the kinds of productive and social activities surrounding the act of viewing. Over a series of essays, Gray 2003, Gray 2005, and Gray 2008 develop the concept of the antifan as a particularly rich way of reversing the lens of fan studies and considering other equally intense relationships to content (Alters 2007 builds on these discussions). Gripsrud 2002 uses international debates about Dynasty to explore the ways fans differ from more casual consumers of television. Johnson 2007 explores a range of conflicts within and between fan communities, challenging earlier, more utopian representations of fan culture. Some aspects of Gray’s concept of the antifan are anticipated by Ang 1985 (cited under Roots of Fan Studies), which discusses the reasons why people like and dislike Dallas, and Schultze, et al. 1993, which discusses the reasons why some people hate Madonna.

Fandom and Sexuality

Given the centrality of slash (fan stories centered on same-sex relationships) and other forms of fan erotica to the overall consideration of fan culture (see Fan Production), discussions of such fan works run throughout this bibliography. This section is thus primarily focused on works that approach fandom through a queer studies lens (Busse 2006; Lackner, et al. 2006) or deal specifically with the practices of gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual fans (Bennett 2010, Benshoff 1998, Doty 2002, Dyer 2003, Griffin 2000, Rand 1995). The focus on queer fans has also expanded the range of texts and practices considered in fan studies, with many of the works in this section dealing with children’s media texts (Wizard of Oz, Barbie, Disney movies) that have been embraced by queer adult consumers.

  • Bennett, Chad. “Flaming the Fans: Shame and the Aesthetics of Queer Fandom in Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine.” Cinema Journal 49.2 (2010): 17–39.

    DOI: 10.1353/cj.0.0189Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Todd Haynes’s cult film to examine the place of shame and embarrassment in queer fan culture.

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  • Benshoff, Harry M. “Secrets, Closets and Corridors through Time: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender through Dark Shadows Fan Culture.” In Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Edited by Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander, 199–218. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 1998.

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    Contrasts fan interest in gothic horror and soap opera with the growing emphasis within fan studies on the study of science fiction fans. Explores how these genres can become vehicles for erotic fantasies.

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  • Busse, Kristina. “My Life Is a WIP on My LJ: Slashing the Slasher and the Reality of Celebrity and Internet Performances.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 207–224. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Examines the performance of queerness in discourse among female fans working together to create slash stories about celebrities.

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  • Doty, Alexander. “‘My Beautiful Wickedness’: The Wizard of Oz as Lesbian Fantasy.” In Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. Edited by Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, and Jane Shattuc, 138–158. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

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    Queer reading of the classic MGM musical includes descriptions of fan appropriations by both gay and lesbian enthusiasts.

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  • Dyer, Richard. “Judy Garland and Gay Men.” In Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society. 2d ed. By Richard Dyer, 137–191. New York: St. Martin’s, 2003.

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    Traces the connection between fans’ embrace of Judy Garland and the emergence of the gay rights movement, attempting to explain why this particular performer spoke so powerfully to a generation of partially closeted gay men.

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  • Griffin, Sean. Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

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    Describes the complex relationship that has emerged between Disney and its dedicated following of gay men, many of whom have large amounts of disposable income. Also discusses how the company courts such consumers without damaging its reputation for “family entertainment.”

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  • Lackner, Eden, Barbara Lynn Lucas, and Robin Anne Reid. “Cunning Linguists: The Bisexual Erotics of Words/Silence/Flesh.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 189–206. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Examines the process of writing one story online about The Lord of the Rings. Counters typical representations of the slash genre as comprising same-sex romances for straight women by arguing instead for a reading that stresses the queerness that emerges in the relations between readers.

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  • Rand, Erica. Barbie’s Queer Accessories. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995.

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    Considers how childhood memories of playing with Barbie might have shaped the self-perceptions of lesbian adults and the ways the popular dolls have been appropriated by a range of fans and artists.

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Fan Tourism

An increasing number of tourist attractions center on the fantasies constructed by popular media, whether actual sets, filming locations, or reconstructions (such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Scholars have begun to explore what makes visiting these sites so meaningful to those who travel great distances to participate in such consumption rituals. This work explores the interplay between real-world experiences and fan immersion into fictions, exploring how fans perform for each other and thus facilitate the shared suspension of disbelief. Alden 2007 and Couldry 2007 represent key discussions of fan tourism as symbolic pilgrimage, while Brooker 2007 offers a critique of Alden’s original account. For more on this topic, see discussions in Sandvoss 2005 (cited under General Overviews).

  • Alden, Roger C. Popular Stories and Promised Lands: Fan Cultures and Symbolic Pilgrimages. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007.

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    Uses examples ranging from The X-Files to Field of Dreams. Examines how locations associated with popular media become “sacred places” in the fan imagination.

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  • Brooker, Will. “A Sort of Homecoming: Fan Viewing and Symbolic Pilgrimage.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 149–164. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Reconsiders Alden’s notion of “symbolic pilgrimage,” exploring the processes leading to immersion.

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  • Couldry, Nick. “On the Set of The Sopranos: ‘Inside’ a Fan’s Construction of Nearness.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 139–148. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Uses the author’s participation on a tour of the HBO Mafia drama’s New Jersey locations to examine the different questions fans and academics ask about cultural experiences.

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Collectors

Fan studies has contributed to a larger body of scholarship in art history and consumer research that is primarily focused on collectors and collector cultures. This work has offered insights into the place of nostalgia and mastery within fan cultures and more generally into the systems by which elements of popular culture, which are residual in that they have lost much of their market value or cultural significance, are appraised and exchanged. The scope of this research ranges from women’s scrapbooks during the silent film era (Hastie 2007) to the exchange of movie memorabilia on eBay (Desjardins 2006). Bloom 2002 discusses how adults use collecting to manage childhood memories. Sobchack 2007 explores how a particularly emblematic prop—the Maltese Falcon from the movie of the same name—has circulated through collector culture since the film’s production, Sperb 2010 explores the rationales behind the continued fan circulation of Walt Disney’s Song of the South, and Staiger 2005 describes a spectrum of different modes of fan collecting. Tryon 2009 explores how the collector market has shaped the content and marketing of DVDs.

Fan Production

A key contribution to emerge from the first wave of fan studies (see Foundational Works) was the recognition that fans blur the lines between consumption and production. Since that time, a central focus has been placed on fans as authors of their own culture based on materials appropriated from mass media. Specifically, such scholarship has attempted to understand the distinctive genres and forms of fan cultural production. This focus on cultural production has extended beyond fandom proper to provide a lens through which to understand remix culture and user-generated content more broadly, helping to make fan studies perspectives central to understanding cybercultures. Sonvilla-Weiss 2010 brings together researchers looking at mashup cultures, showing how central theories of fan appropriation and remixing are to any analysis of contemporary culture. Onion 2008 describes how steampunk culture reconstructs an alternative vision of technology—one more closely aligned with beauty and humanity—through the production and exchange of gadgets made from old materials. Moving beyond this general consideration, subsequent sections consider fan fiction, along with vidding/fan filmmaking, as the two forms of fan production that have attracted the greatest amount of scholarship. Beyond these activities, fan studies researchers also investigate other genres of fan performance and kinds of knowledge-gathering activities associated with spoiling. Finally, researchers have studied the relationship between these various forms of fan production and our current understandings of intellectual property law.

Fan Fiction

A variety of works offer a general account of fan fiction, often in relation to other forms of professional and amateur literature. Busse and Hellekson 2006 proposes a literary approach to fan fiction that especially addresses its modes of production and consumption. Derecho 2006 expands the category of fan fiction to show how it relates to a larger history of texts including many from the literary canon that borrow elements from other texts. Duncombe 1997 situates fanzines alongside a much broader array of amateur publications, while Pugh 2005 makes the argument for fan fiction as a legitimate form of literary expression. Verba 2003 traces the emergence and diversification of Star Trek fan fiction over the fandom’s first few decades. An important strand of research on fan fiction discusses slash, a genre of erotica that deals with same-sex relationships (mostly male–male) between fictional characters.

  • Busse, Kristina, and Karen Hellekson. “Work in Progress.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 5–32. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Proposes a literary theory of fan fiction production that places strong emphasis on the collaborative processes shaping the exchange of stories within a female-centric fan network.

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  • Derecho, Abigail. “Archontic Literature: A Definition, a History, and Several Theories of Fan Fiction.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 61–78. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Seeks a more expansive definition of transformative works, allowing us to see the connections between fan fiction and other literary texts that seek to build on the previous cultural archive.

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  • Duncombe, Stephen. Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. London: Verso, 1997.

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    Constructs a general history and theory of amateur publication, read through the lens of alternative cultural politics.

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  • Pugh, Sheenagh. The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context. Bridgend, UK: Seren, 2005.

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    Celebrates fan fiction as a form of grassroots literature, which emerges from fan desires to get “more from” and “more of” favorite texts.

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  • Verba, Joan Marie. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 19671987. 2d ed. Minnetonka, MN: FTL, 2003.

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    Chronicles the emergence of Star Trek fanzine publishing, as recounted by a veteran fan author and editor.

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Slash Fan Fiction

Slash fiction has been central to discussions of sexuality and gender within fandom (see Fandom and Sexuality), but it has also inspired work on how genres emerge from grassroots production. Driscoll 2006 considers how slash connects with and differs from romance and pornography as commercial genres and what this comparison may tell us about alternative forms of sexual identity. Some of the works included here predate the emergence of fan studies as a distinctive field of research, representing early debates about this genre at the boundaries between fandom and academia: Lamb and Veith 1986 focuses on the desire to produce romance stories that treat the partners as equals, while Russ 1985 discusses slash as a form of pornography by and for women. Green, et al. 1998 provides some examples of how fan readers and writers theorize their own relationships to slash. Salmon and Symons 2003 makes controversial claims about evolutionary differences between male and female sexuality. Finally, Stasi 2006 explores intertextuality.

  • Driscoll, Catherine. “One True Pairing: The Romance of Pornography and the Pornography of Romance.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 79–96. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Explores what slash borrows from pornography and romance with strong emphasis on fantasies of intimacy.

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  • Green, Shoshanna, Cynthia Jenkins, and Henry Jenkins. “Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking: Selections from The Terra Nostra Underground and Strange Bedfellows.” In Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Edited by Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander, 9–38. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 1998.

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    Selections by fan writers exploring their theories of slash as a genre. Discusses how slash serves the interests of queer fans and how slash has responded to the politics of the gay rights movement.

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  • Lamb, Patricia Frazer, and Diana L. Veith. “Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines.” In Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature. Edited by Donald Palumbo, 235–255. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.

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    Describes slash as a reworking of the conventions of romantic fiction to ensure greater equality between participants. Emphasizes ways fan writers read characters as androgynous and fluid in their gender identities.

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  • Russ, Joanna. “Pornography by Women, for Women, with Love.” In Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts: Feminist Essays. By Joanna Russ, 79–99. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing, 1985.

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    Noted feminist science fiction author provides what is thought to be the first scholarly discussion of slash, which she finds possesses many of the qualities lacking in commercial pornography.

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  • Salmon, Catherine, and Donald Symons. Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

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    Reads slash in relation to evolutionary history and what the authors see as essential psychological/physiological differences between male and female sexuality.

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  • Stasi, Mafalda. “The Toy Soldiers from Leeds: The Slash Palimpsest.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 115–133. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Maps forms of intertextuality involved in the production and reading of slash.

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Vidders and Fan Filmmakers

Studies of fan media production typically distinguish between vidding, a mostly feminine form that involves reediting found footage (typically set to popular music) to get deeper into the psychology of the fictional characters, and fan filmmaking, a mostly masculine form that centers on the production of original footage and often parodies popular film and television programs. Coppa 2009 and Lothian 2009 address vidding aesthetics and practices while Hill 2007 introduces a general readership to such practices through a focus on the works of one key fan vidder. Jenkins 2003, Kozinets 2007, and Young 2008 explore the history and practice of fan filmmaking; Gray 2010 explores both as part of a larger account of fan-produced paratexts. Fan production is also often linked to machinima, the use of game engines to produce animation (a practice closely associated with gamer culture). Although a thorough exploration of machinima is outside the scope of this bibliography, Stein 2006 includes an exploration of how female fans use game engines as part of their storytelling practices.

Fan Performance

Although less fully explored than some other methodological perspectives, performance studies represents a rich alternative vocabulary for understanding fan culture, especially insofar as fandom spills over into public spectacle as in the cases of cosplay (Joseph-Witham 1996), role-playing games (Lancaster 2001), professional wrestling (Mazer 2005, McBride and Bird 2007), and Elvis impersonators (Nightingale 2003, Spigel 1990). Coppa 2006 argues that fan fiction writing may be better understood as a form of fan performance rather than through a conventional literary lens. Drew 2002 takes ideas from fan studies into research about popular performance, focusing specifically on karaoke performances. Lancaster 2001 offers the most sustained account of how performance studies might inform the work of fan research. The issue of fan performance is also explored in some of the works cited under General Overviews (see Hills 2002 and Sandvoss 2005) and is closely related to the works cited under Fan Tourism.

  • Coppa, Francesca. “Writing Bodies in Space: Media Fan Fiction as Theatrical Performance.” In Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet. Edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, 225–244. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    Argues that fan fiction writing might best be understood through a lens of fan performance, evoking fans’ shared mental models of what takes place on screen.

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  • Drew, Robert. “‘Anyone Can Do It’: Forging a Participatory Culture in Karaoke Bars.” In Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. Edited by Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, and Jane Shattuc, 254–269. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

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    Offers a rich model for thinking about the aesthetics of amateur cultural production as well as for the role of the autobiographical voice in cultural criticism.

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  • Joseph-Witham, Heather R. Star Trek Fans and Costume Art. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996.

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    Discusses, through photographs and analysis, costuming (what would become known as cosplay) among Star Trek fans as a contemporary folk art practice.

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  • Lancaster, Kurt. Interacting with Babylon 5: Fan Performances in a Media Universe. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.

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    Represents perhaps the most substantial and sustained effort to understand fandom and gaming through a performance studies lens. Also considers the performance of fandom and authorship online.

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  • Mazer, Sharon. “‘Real Wrestling’/‘Real’ Life.” In Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling. Edited by Nicholas Sammond, 67–87. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

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    Contends that the shared illusion of professional wrestling depends on the reinforcement offered by collective fan performances.

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  • McBride, Lawrence B., and S. Elizabeth Bird. “From Smart Fan to Backyard Wrestler: Performance, Context, and Aesthetic Violence.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 165–176. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Explores the rise of backyard wrestling federations as a fan criticism and performance practice.

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  • Nightingale, Virginia. “Improvising Elvis, Marilyn and Mickey Mouse.” In Critical Readings: Media and Audiences. Edited by Virginia Nightingale and Karen Ross, 219–235. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press, 2003.

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    Proposes theory and methodology for examining fan performance and impersonation as aspects of media consumption.

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  • Spigel, Lynn. “Communicating with the Dead: Elvis as Medium.” Camera Obscura 8.2 (1990): 176–205.

    DOI: 10.1215/02705346-8-2_23-176Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes performances at a convention of Elvis impersonators as representing fan interpretations of the pop star’s legacy after his death. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Spoilers

Historically, fans exchanging information about favorite media properties would include spoiler alerts so that people could decide what they wanted to know in advance of consuming the work. Increasingly, however, spoiling has become a specific kind of fan practice involving collective knowledge production and information sharing, accomplished sometimes by tracking down extratextual sources, sometimes through active speculation about the information already provided. This focus on spoiling has linked fan studies to other work on collective intelligence and collaborative problem solving within a networked society (a link explored in Jenkins 2006 and Mittell 2009), as well as intertextuality and extratextuality more generally (as developed in Gray and Mittell 2007). The ChillOne 2003 is an autobiography that provides an insider’s account of how the Survivor-spoiling community operates.

Fans and Intellectual Property

One of the first questions many people ask about fan fiction and other forms of fan cultural production has to do with the legality of these appropriation practices and how copyright holders respond to the appropriation and redeployment of their intellectual property. For that reason, fan scholars have had to consistently address issues of intellectual property (Leonard 2005 and Lewis, et al. 2009 explore the legal status of fansubbing and fan fiction, respectively), while fan culture has become more and more central to legal scholarship in the digital era (Lessig 2008, Tushnet 2007). Coombe and Herman 2001, Lasica 2005, and Postigo 2008 document the increasingly intense struggles between fans and copyright holders and the conflicting assumptions each party makes about the relationship between copyright and fair use.

Online Communities and the Digital Economy

Although most of the foundational work in fan studies was done in a world where zines were traded through the mail, the field’s growth coincided with the popularization of the Internet. Some have argued that the dispersed networks of fans who engaged regularly with each other around common interests through the mail prefigured later forms of virtual communities. Fans were early adapters of digital media, helping to close the gender gap in terms of women’s participation in the online world. Baym 2000 and Bury 2005 provide extensive accounts of female fan communities. Clerc 1996 studies the gender wars that occurred as male and female fans met online and clashed over conflicting norms and expectations. Cumberland 2003 considers shifts in fan publication practices as a result of the archival capacities of the web, a line of research that culminates in Hellekson and Busse 2006 (cited under Anthologies). Ross 2008 describes how collective online experiences and discussions heighten fans’ willingness to criticize producers’ creative decisions, Thompson 2007 discusses ways that producers court influential web-based fans, while Wexelblat 2002 explores tensions that erupt when television authors meet their audiences online. Booth 2010 (cited under General Overviews) uses alternative reality games as an analogy for understanding the kinds of engagement and participation that surround fan culture in the digital era. The term “Web 2.0” describes a business model and commercial strategy that has emerged within the digital economy and is based on principles of crowdsourcing and user-generated content. Web 2.0 approaches rely on the consumer actively contributing to the value of the platform or service. The increased interaction between fans and producers in a networked culture has generated many critical concerns. Subsections that follow discuss debates around user-generated content and unpaid labor, the concepts of moral economy and gift exchange as alternatives to corporate conceptions of the commodity, the relationships of fans to other kinds of consumers, and the worry that corporate efforts will come to dominate more grassroots forms of fan participation.

  • Baym, Nancy K. Tune In, Log On: Soaps, Fandom, and Online Community. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2000.

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    The first significant study of an online fan community. Defined both the research agenda and methodologies for the coming decade.

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  • Bury, Rhiannon. Cyberspaces of Their Own: Female Fandoms Online. New York: Lang, 2005.

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    Situates the study of online fandom within a larger consideration of social norms and gender identities online.

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  • Clerc, Susan. “Estrogen Brigades and ‘Big Tits’ Threads: Media Fandom Online and Off.” In Wired Women: Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace. Edited by Lynn Cherny and Elizabeth Reba Weise, 73–97. Seattle, WA: Seal, 1996.

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    Describes how female fans seek their own online communities, often heavily segregated by gender due to conflicts with male Internet fans.

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  • Cumberland, Sharon. “Private Uses of Cyberspace: Women, Desire, and Fan Culture.” In Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Edited by David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins, 261–279. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

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    Considers how the hybrid nature of online space as both private and public has empowered women to forge stronger connections through their sharing of erotic stories.

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  • Ross, Sharon Marie. “Fascinated with Fandom: Cautiously Aware Viewers of Xena and Buffy.” In Beyond the Box: Television and the Internet. By Sharon Marie Ross, 35–70. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

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    Explores how ongoing, real-time interactions around cult television series heighten Internet fans’ sense of ownership over the franchises and thus intensify their belief that they are entitled to be heard by producers and networks.

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  • Thompson, Kristin. The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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    Overview of The Lord of the Rings franchise. Close consideration of the strategies with which producers courted online fan communities and the ways fan fiction writers appropriated elements from the films. In particular, see “Click to View Trailer” (pp. 133–164) and “Fans on the Margins, Pervy Hobbit Fanciers and Partygoers” (pp. 165–190).

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  • Wexelblat, Alan. “An Auteur in the Age of the Internet: JMS, Babylon 5, and the Net.” In Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. Edited by Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, and Jane Shattuc, 209–226. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

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    Describes the sometimes combative relationship that emerged between Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and early Internet fans.

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Fan Labor and User-Generated Content

Fan studies was among the first disciplines to address issues of “free” or “unpaid” labor, as the field sought to explain why fans voluntarily contribute to Web 2.0 platforms. Much of the work in this category comes from a critical studies or political economy perspective and often challenges the more celebratory representations of fan practices found elsewhere within fan studies literature. Andrejevic 2009 and Terranova 2004 help to frame the general debate in critical studies about free labor, while Andrejevic 2008 critiques existing writing on fan cultural production. Other authors have written about how fandom has engaged with these debates in discussing the value of fan fiction (De Kosnik 2009), the forms of audience engagement (Martens 2011), the development of game modifications (Milner 2009), and the constraints on fan participation within online contests (Russo 2009). Although written prior to the launch of Web 2.0, Meehan 2000 explores the ways in which fan productivity blurs the lines between labor and leisure.

  • Andrejevic, Mark. “Watching Television without Pity: The Productivity of Online Fans.” Television and New Media 9.1 (2008): 24–46.

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    Argues that online fan discussion lists create value for companies, both by intensifying audience interest in various series and by providing raw data to help producers better understand audience desires. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Andrejevic, Mark. “Exploiting YouTube: Contradictions of User-Generated Labor.” In The YouTube Reader. Edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, 406–423. Stockholm: National Library of Sweden, 2009.

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    Describes the mechanisms by which Google and advertisers profit from the user-generated content exchanged using YouTube.

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  • De Kosnik, Abigail. “Should Fan Fiction Be Free?” Cinema Journal 48.4 (2009): 118–124.

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    Contends that, while fans have successfully avoided some of the legal sanctions typically imposed by copyright holders by offering their fan fiction for free, these fan producers may be selling themselves short in light of changing economic relations between producers and consumers in a newly networked culture. Available online by subscription.

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  • Martens, Marianne. “Transmedia Teens: Affect, Immaterial Labor, and User-Generated Content.” Convergence 17.1 (2011): 49–68.

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    Examines the range of ways in which teenagers are encouraged to participate in the production of cultural commodities that target them as consumers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Meehan, Eileen R. “Leisure or Labor? Fan Ethnography and Political Economy.” In Consuming Audiences? Production and Reception in Media Research. Edited by Ingunn Hagen and Janet Wasko, 71–92. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2000.

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    Argues for the need to pay more attention to the ways in which political economy structures fan participation and production. Situates fandom within a larger history of leisure in relation to capitalism and other contemporary strategies employed by transmedia conglomerates.

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  • Milner, R. M. “Working for the Text: Fan Labor and the New Organization.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 12.5 (2009): 491–508.

    DOI: 10.1177/1367877909337861Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores why many fans (in this case, of a game franchises) have been so willing to accept their status as unpaid creative workers for commercial companies. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Russo, Julie Levin. “User-Penetrated Content: Fan Video in the Age of Convergence.” Cinema Journal 48.4 (2009): 125–130.

    DOI: 10.1353/cj.0.0147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues media producers constrain grassroots creative expression (especially by women) even as they seek to encourage user-generated content. Available online by subscription.

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  • Terranova, Tiziana. Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age. London: Pluto, 2004.

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    Offers a Marxist critique of free labor, a phenomenon that Terranova sees as central to the new media economy. Although this work is not specifically about fans, it helped set the stage for subsequent application of these concepts to discussions of fan labor.

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Moral Economy and the Gift Economy

Models based on moral economy (derived from the work of historian E. P. Thompson) and gift economy (inspired primarily by the writings of legal scholar and philosopher Lewis Hyde) have offered ways of understanding the relations between media producers and consumers. Accounts based on “moral economy” emphasize the ways any economic exchange also requires a social and ethical understanding among participants. Such understandings have to be revised during periods of turmoil and upheaval (Austin 2006, Green and Jenkins 2009). Accounts based on a gift economy model stress the different motivations that shape the exchange of gifts among fans in contrast to the circulation of commodities within commercial culture (Green and Jenkins 2011, Hellekson 2009, Scott 2009). Both provide the basis for a critique of Web 2.0 from a perspective within fan studies.

Consumer Research Perspectives

Most of the work in fan studies has been written from the perspective of the audience that is presumed to be resistant. Going back to its roots in Birmingham cultural studies, this approach envisions the audience as a semiautonomous force that poses a check on the actions of corporate media producers. However, fan practices have also been examined by the field of consumer research, which often functions within a business school context and which seeks to understand the value of fans from a corporate perspective. Brown 2007 questions how representative hardcore fans are of the larger audience for cult media properties. By contrast, Ford 2006 offers recommendations to media companies about the value of embracing and supporting fan engagement and participation. Kozinets 2001 set the stage for this research trajectory, modeling the intersection of consumer research and fan studies, and exploring the meaningfulness of fan consumption of merchandise related to Star Trek.

Corporate Fandom

Networked communication has made the once-hidden subculture of fans much more visible to the commercial media industry; the industry has recognized the value of engagement as a means of commanding greater viewer loyalty during an era of fragmented audiences. These entries offer a critical perspective on the ways in which media producers and networks have embraced new strategies for fostering fan engagement, creating an authorized and regulated fan culture that is often at odds with the traditions of a more autonomous and grassroots version of fandom. Brooker 2001, Consalvo 2003, Murray 2004, Shefrin 2004, and Stein 2011 provide case studies of specific media properties and corporate strategies for dealing with online fans. Collectively, these works provide snapshots of a rapidly evolving set of industry practices and logics, along with critiques of how these fan-friendly strategies work or do not work in the interests of grassroots fan communities. Gillan 2011 explores strategies for tracking fans as part of larger shifts in the interplay between the television and online content industries, while Ross 2008 situates these consumer relations practices in the larger context of how the television industry is embracing interactivity.

  • Brooker, Will. “Living on Dawson’s Creek: Teen Viewers, Cultural Convergence, and Television Overflow.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 4.4 (2001): 456–472.

    DOI: 10.1177/136787790100400406Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Asks whether the structured interactivity for commercial television content forecloses rather than encourages grassroots fan culture. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Consalvo, Mia. “Cyber-Slaying Media Fans: Code, Digital Poaching, and Corporate Control of the Internet.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 27.1 (2003): 67–86.

    DOI: 10.1177/0196859902238641Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores how companies are using the constraints of digital code to restrict some more-resistant aspects of fan culture as the web evolves from a communal to a commercial platform. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Gillan, Jennifer. Television and New Media: Must-Click TV. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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    Describes strategies by which media companies track and respond to fans as part of a larger consideration of the interplay between television and digital media.

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  • Murray, Simone. “‘Celebrating the Story the Way It Is’: Cultural Studies, Corporate Media and the Contested Utility of Fandom.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 18.1 (2004): 7–25.

    DOI: 10.1080/1030431032000180978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using case studies of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, examines how producers increasingly outsource promotional activities to fans. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Ross, Sharon Marie. Beyond the Box: Television and the Internet. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

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    Outlines a range of invitational strategies by which contemporary television producers encourage fan engagement and participation, from voting on American Idol to the modeling of fandom within teen television series.

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  • Shefrin, Elana. “Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Participatory Fandom: Mapping New Congruencies between the Internet and Media Entertainment Culture.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 21.3 (2004): 261–281.

    DOI: 10.1080/0739318042000212729Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contrasts strategies adopted by Peter Jackson and George Lucas in response to their online fans. Traces the shifting balance of power between producers and consumers within a networked culture. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Stein, Louisa Ellen. “‘Word of Mouth on Steroids’: Hailing the Millennial Media Fan.” In Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence. Edited by Michael Kackman, Marnie Binfield, Matthew Thomas Payne, Allison Perlman, and Bryan Sebok, 128–143. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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    Uses science fiction series Kyle XY as a case study to examine “a corporate-sponsored, ‐promoted, and ‐guided version of fannishness, packaged as contemporary youth identity” (p. 128).

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Learning through Fandom

Work in the learning sciences has expanded in recent years to incorporate forms of informal learning taking place outside of schools. This move has been fueled by the efforts of the MacArthur Foundation to construct a field around the study of digital media and learning. As a specific set of cultural practices involving the production of knowledge and media, fandom has been central to these discussions, as has the broader concept of participatory culture that has emerged from the fan studies tradition. The focus in this section is on work that specifically addresses the pedagogical value of fan practices, because work on participatory culture and learning more generally is too extensive to list here. Belcher and Stephenson 2011 explains how fan culture practices around Harry Potter are spilling over into the classroom yet are also at risk in an era of increasingly standardized instruction. Other accounts describe fan fiction sites (Black 2008) and fantasy baseball leagues (Halverson and Halverson 2008) as supporting robust forms of informal learning and providing insights for the design of other learning environments. Ito 2008 discusses the production and sharing of knowledge within a community of Western fans of Japanese anime and manga franchises. Jenkins 1995 discusses what Star Trek means within the context of a specific educational institution—the science and engineering cultures at MIT. Knobel and Lankshear 2010 gives models for how teachers and educators might embrace do-it-yourself media practices; Lange and Ito 2010, more broadly, offers a broader context for understanding fandom alongside other forms of grassroots media activities in which young people are involved.

Fan Activism

Fans have historically demonstrated a remarkable capacity to mobilize around shared concerns, using a range of strategies in their attempts to shape network and producer decisions impacting favored franchises. Increasingly, researchers focusing on civic engagement are seeking to better understand what fan practices might teach about getting citizens more involved in the political process, while fans are seeking to turn their organizational and expressive skills toward changing the world. The texts included in this category explore the role of fans as citizens and the relationship between fan activism and civic engagement. Duncombe 2007, Earl and Kimport 2009, and van Zoonen 2005 approach this question by focusing on traditional activism and existing theories of citizenship, while Scardaville 2005 asks whether the sense of engagement that emerges as fans rally to protect a television program can be deployed toward other ends. Harrington 1998 and Stein 2002 offer differing perspectives on what happens when news reports intrude on fan interests. Reality television provides a particularly rich space for exploring how fans might act collectively to change the real world, as illustrated here by Punathambekar 2009 and Wilson 2004.

Global Fans

A major development in recent years has been the expansion of the fan studies paradigm from a focus on primarily Anglo-American cultural practices to a consideration of media audiences in other parts of the world, including enthusiasts of Swedish popular music (Baym and Burnett 2009) and Indian audiences of Bollywood (Punathambekar 2007). The largest single body of work in this area to date, however, has focused on Japanese media and fan cultures (see Otaku Culture). Although some of this research deals with specific national cultures, significant work explores the place of fandom within processes of globalization or at least transnational flows of media content (Baym and Burnett 2009, Jenkins 2004). Fans have played a key role in the informal importation of media from other parts of the world, especially by translating and subtitling works across languages (a process known as “fansubbing”) and educating local audiences about the genre traditions from which these works come. Harrington and Bielby 2007 examines the flow of fan studies across national borders. A subsection here focuses on the case of the Otaku in Japan, a subculture that has received a good deal of attention in the fan studies literature.

  • Baym, Nancy K., and Robert Burnett. “Amateur Experts: International Fan Labour in Swedish Independent Music.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 12.5 (2009): 433–449.

    DOI: 10.1177/1367877909337857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines debates about fan labor and intellectual property by studying online exchanges between Swedish independent musicians and their transnational followers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Harrington, C. Lee, and Denise D. Bielby. “Global Fandom/Global Fan Studies.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan A. Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 179–197. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Discusses the development of fan studies as a global scholarly community and as a tool for thinking about the transnational production of knowledge.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. “Pop Cosmopolitanism: Mapping Cultural Flows in an Age of Media Convergence.” In Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium. Edited by Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Desirée Baolian Qin-Hilliard, 114–140. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

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    Theorizes how “otaku” (fans) and “desi” (immigrants) are shaping the flow of Asian media into the United States (see also Otaku Culture). Posits a generation of “pop cosmopolitans” who seek cultural difference through the transnational exchange of popular culture.

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  • Punathambekar, Aswin. “Between Rowdies and Rasikas: Rethinking Fan Activity in Indian Film Culture.” In Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Edited by Jonathan Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, 198–209. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    Situates online fandom of Bollywood composer A. R. Rahman within the global context of fan studies.

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Otaku Culture

Western fan interest in anime and manga (and, through them, interest in J-pop, cosplay, and a range of other Japanese fan practices) has fueled a growth in scholarship examining the forms that fan culture takes in Japan. A primary focus here has been on the “media mix” strategy, combining animation, comics, toys, games, and other popular media (Allison 2006, Ito 2008). The Japanese word for fan—otaku—initially carried negative connotations, dismissing Japanese fans as antisocial and obsessed with trivia. However, it is increasingly being reclaimed among Western fans as a mark of their cosmopolitanism. As interest in studying the place of Japanese cult media in Asia (Kelly 2004) and in the West (Napier 2007, Newitz 1994) has grown, efforts have begun to translate the pioneering work of Japanese scholars examining otaku culture through their own national perspectives (such as Azuma 2009, which describes anime fans in relation to postmodernity). Much more of this Japanese-language scholarship should be circulating in the West in the near future. McLelland 2009 and Tobin 2004 adopt transnational or global perspectives to understand the impacts of otaku culture; see also Jenkins 2004 (cited under Global Fans).

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