From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.
Jonathan Alexander is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California Irvine. The author, co-author, or coeditor of 16 books, he writes frequently about literacy, multimedia and digital forms of composing, and issues of social difference and justice. Rebecca Black is an Associate Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She studies the role of digital media and popular culture in how young people learn, develop, and play. Today, they talk about their recent collaboration studying fanfiction.
How did you first find out about fandom or fanworks?
JA: I’ve long been a fan myself, particularly of science fiction and SF film and television, and have written in the past as (what Henry Jenkins calls) an “acafan” — an academic who also studies fandoms and the popular genres that we enjoy in our “private” lives. I’ve written about comics, graphic novels, SF, and most recently young adult fiction. In my most recent scholarly book, Writing Youth: Young Adult Fiction as Literacy Sponsorship, I look at how many young adult novels model for young people ways to manage the various media tools that surround them. But I also examine the kinds of media content — including short films or video trailers —- that young people make in response to their favorite Young Adult (YA) novels and narratives. I’m interested in how young people use popular narratives -— from Hunger Games to Harry Potter — to think about their lives, their worlds, and their futures.