Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with Nele Noppe, who volunteers as a staffer in the Communications Committee and runs the OTW’s Fanhackers blog.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
I work to make fan studies more accessible for fans (and fan studies researchers) mainly by posting quotes from fan studies articles on the Fanhackers site (which has a Tumblr mirror). There’s a ton of fan studies research happening on every topic, and much of that research contains important, new, or just plain interesting ideas that should find their way back to fans. However, it’s not always easy for people to find their way to fan studies work. That’s where we try to make a small difference.
Take the many articles published every year in our academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC). TWC is an open access journal, meaning that the articles in it are open and free to read for everyone on the internet. However, it’s not because something is free to read that people will also find their way to it. They may not hear about the article at all, because it’s not linked to in the spaces where they hang out. They may not have time to read a full-size academic article, which is pretty damn long. The article may be a bit inaccessible in other ways, for example because it uses a lot of obscure terminology (although many fan studies researchers are very good at not overusing jargon, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that they’re often fans themselves).
Publishing bite-sized quotes from these articles in fannish spaces like Tumblr is a way to draw eyeballs to them, and make it more easy for fans to discover important ideas from fan studies research.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
Pretty calm. I keep track of new fan studies research, and pick up interesting quotes from it to put on our Tumblr. The TWC editors also keep a list of useful quotes from new articles, and sometimes people send interesting things my way. We’re still experimenting with what sort of quotes get a lot of reaction on Tumblr. Quotes from fan studies articles about, say, the AO3 are almost guaranteed to get a ton of notes, but it’s important to keep an eye on variety and also post snippets from articles on less popular or well-known topics.
What brought you into the area of fan studies?
As a young Japanese Studies student, I asked a professor for permission to write a term paper on yaoi, my favorite kind of manga at the time. He needed the concept explained to him, and was so mortified that he said “yes” just to make me go away faster. Note that this was in the early 2000s, when there weren’t that many pop culture fans in Japanese Studies. Professors were much more easily shocked by fannish topics then.
I discovered that researching fan culture was as fun as taking part in it, and went on to do an MA thesis on yaoi/BL and a PhD on dojinshi (Japanese fanzines).
What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
Feeling like I’m making a positive difference. I do only one small thing, but there are hundreds of people like me in the OTW, and together we somehow manage to do very big things.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I make art and fic, these days mostly for Dragon Age, and also lurk in Yuri!!! on Ice and Attack on Titan fandom on Tumblr and Twitter.
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.