What gets you excited about academic studies in fandom?
“Here’s what I’m excited about,” said Karen Hellekson in 2008: “an academic journal that welcomes, instead of rejects or overtly mocks, fan studies as a topic … that takes as a given the notion that fans provide something valuable to our culture that ought to be analyzed.”
That journal is Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC): run, peer-reviewed, edited, and supported by OTW members and fans like you.
TWC is a journal with contributions from fan studies scholars all over the world. Edited by Hellekson and Kristina Busse, TWC has produced 15 issues so far, featuring fascinating contributions in topics ranging from fanvids to fan labor to Supernatural.
Here’s another reason to get excited: TWC is completely free to the public, and has been from the beginning. Academic journals are traditionally locked to people with university affiliations. Often you have to pay US$30 to $45 for access to a single article. But ours is an online-only Open Access Gold journal: free for the readers at the point of access. Plus, our Creative Commons copyright lets anyone reprint the essays for free. These are essential principles behind TWC, enabling its goal of connecting academics and fans through community and accessibility. That’s why the journal also has an open space for non-academic fans to chime in, through the Symposium section in every issue.
In 2013, TWC obtained wider visibility and greater academic standing for its articles. Hellekson called this “a big win for TWC and an acknowledgment of the high quality of the work we publish,” as well as a good sign for online academia.
Recently, editors Hellekson and Busse also worked on getting together a volume collecting a number of foundational academic texts about fandom. All royalties from The Fan Fiction Studies Reader go straight to the OTW!
So what’s next? TWC staff is keeping up the good work—issue 16 is already locked, with 17 well on the way—and planning to branch out into other areas of fan scholarship, including more non-Western and nonmedia fandoms like sports and music fandoms, and to “experiment with new forms of digital scholarship.”
Bringing TWC to you is a tenacious journey. The editors, team members, and scholars mostly work behind the scenes: soliciting high-quality essays, peer-reviewing them, and getting out every issue on time, expertly copyedited and typeset. For the TWC community, every issue is a landmark, the product of hundreds of hours of absorbing, thought-provoking academic work.
If you’re excited, too, consider supporting TWC’s high-quality, open-access fan scholarship — please donate today!