OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Smitha Milli

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.

Smitha Milli is a 4th-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley whose research interests lie in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. Today, Smitha talks about her research using natural language processing to reveal patterns in fanfiction texts, the results of which is available online.

How did you come to work with fanfiction in your research?

At the time I started this project my main research focus was in natural language processing (NLP). Natural language processing is a subfield of artificial intelligence that is concerned with creating algorithms to process and understand language. If you’ve ever used Google Translate or Siri, you’ve used products that depend on NLP research!

In addition to having many commercial applications, NLP can also be used as a tool to explore literature. People have automatically tracked dynamic relationships between characters, created computational models of literary character, and analyzed the change in emotional content over the course of a story. However, a bottleneck to improving algorithms in the literary domain was the lack of a large-scale dataset of modern literature. I originally started looking into fanfiction as a source for this kind of data. As I looked further, I found that the structure of fanfiction also made it possible to define interesting, new problems for NLP and I became interested in computationally analyzing social science questions about fanfiction.

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OTW Guest Post

Guest Post: Sara Austin

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.

Sara Austin is a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on intersections of identity in children’s literature and culture. Today, Sarah talks about a recent article she wrote for Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) titled Valuing queer identity in Monster High doll fandom

What first brought your attention to the Monster High doll fandom?

My daughter did, actually. She came home from preschool a few years ago talking about these dolls and how we had to get them. Thirty dolls, five movies, and countless webisodes later, it is safe to say that we are both fans. I was surprised that the show embraced the sexuality of its characters and treated it seriously and in discreet ways, such as acknowledging crushes or incorporating nods to the Twilight series. When my daughter wanted to be a Monster High character for Halloween, we looked up cosplay and makeup tips and just stumbled onto the fan sites. From there I started reading fanfiction and message boards to understand how active and diverse the fandom is.

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OTW Guest Post

Guest Post: Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen

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.

Lynn Zubernis, PhD, West Chester University and Katherine Larsen, PhD, George Washington University are authors of the books ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ ‘Fan Phenomena: Supernatural’ ‘Fandom at the Crossroads’ and Fan Culture: ‘Theory/Practice’. They also run the blog Fangasm The Book

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