TWC releases No. 4, special issue on Supernatural

The academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures, a project of OTW, released its latest issue on March 15, 2010: an issue on Supernatural guest-edited by acafan Catherine Tosenberger. Rush over here to read and comment on the essays! This is the first issue of TWC to focus on a single text.

In addition to academic essays, the issue contains shorter Symposium articles. There are close readings of specific SPN eps and the show as a whole as well as essays that discuss fan-created artworks and fandom itself. We also interviewed SPN profic writer Keith R. A. DeCandido, members of the Super-wiki team, and Wincon organizer Ethrosdemon.

The full press release appears below the cut. Feel free to disseminate widely!


March 15, 2010


Editor, Transformative Works and Cultures

Transformative Works and Cultures releases Supernatural special issue

NEW YORK, NY, March 15, 2010 – “Saving People, Hunting Things,” a special issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) dedicated to the WB television program Supernatural guest edited by Catherine Tosenberger, was released on March 15, 2010.

“I am incredibly excited about the show,” says Tosenberger, an assistant professor of English at the University of Winnipeg in Canada. “It has a large, vibrant fandom, and the fan fic and fan vids in particular are very, very strong. I thought it was about time that all the serious analysis going on behind the scenes was showcased.”

“A lot has gone on with the program during the year it’s taken to put the issue together,” TWC coeditor Karen Hellekson noted. “Supernatural is still counting down to the last few episodes of season 5, which promise a huge showdown, and then it was unexpectedly renewed for season 6.” Kristina Busse, TWC’s other coeditor, agreed: “I’m glad nobody wanted to wait until the show finished airing. It’s actually more interesting this way: everyone is still interested and invested. There is tremendous excitement about the program, and I think this issue captures that excitement.”

The issue contains articles written by both academics and fans. The seven research essays in the Praxis section discuss such topics as melodrama (Melissa N. Bruce, Lisa Schmidt), male pregnancy in Supernatural fan fiction (Berit Åström), religion (Line Nybro Petersen), and genres such as fairy tales (Tosenberger) and romance (Monica Flegel and Jenny Roth). The Symposium section contains several analyses of fan vids (Louisa Ellen Stein, Katharina Freund), and several essays discuss the fan experience as expressed by Supernatural in its canon (Deepa Sivarajan, Melissa Gray). Many essays touch on similar themes: Wincest, the depiction of fans, the ties of brotherhood, the emotional resonance of the fan-created artworks.

Three interviews appear in this issue of TWC: Tosenberger interviewed writer Keith R. A. DeCandido about his Supernatural tie-in novels; Deborah Kaplan interviewed the members of the Super-wiki ( admin team; and the editorial team interviewed Ethrosdemon, who has put together a series of fan conventions that focus on Supernatural.

TWC is online only and open access. “That was a big reason I pitched this issue to TWC,” Tosenberger said. “I want fans of the show—and there are a lot of them—to be able to read without any restrictions on access. Lots of fans come from the LiveJournal community, and they’re used to talking with each other and commenting. TWC’s software lets readers attach comments to the articles. That means that the writers and the readers can be in dialogue with each other.”

The fifth issue of TWC, due to be released on September 15, 2010, is a general, unthemed issue.

About TWC: Transformative Works and Cultures (, an online-only peer-reviewed journal, represents the academic arm of the nonprofit fan advocacy group Organization for Transformative Works (

Special TWC issue “Games as Transformative Works” released!

The second issue of Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) has just been released! The March 15, 2009, special issue, entitled “Games as Transformative Works,” is edited by Rebecca Carlson and combines TWC’s general interest in fan works and fan cultures with a focus on games. Anthropology is the issue’s dominant disciplinary approach, but literary and cultural studies also frame the discussion. Although several essays address the role of production, the voices of the fans and the gamers themselves remain ever important.

The Praxis articles address many of the issues that surround computer games: editor Rebecca Carlson, for example, studies the complex position of gaming journalists, who are simultaneously fans and advertisers; Casey O’Donnell looks at the ambiguous role of game producers; and Robertson Allen’s study of the use of games in Army recruiting similarly complicates the social role of games and their real life effects. Three other Praxis essays focus on particular games and the communities surrounding them: World of Warcraft (Mark Chen), Kingly Quest (Anastasia Marie Salter), and tabletop role-playing game Exalted (Michael Robert Underwood). Kevin Driscoll and Joshua Diaz focus on fan creativity in their introduction to and explanation of chiptunes.

The Symposium section looks back and forward: pieces include Will Brooker’s recollection of early computer games of the 1980s and what specific effects these games had on a particular generation; Thien-bao Thuc Phi’s powerful analysis and personal response to the depiction of Asians in computer games; and Braxton Soderman’s meditation on fan labor and fan activities in various online computer games. Several essays focus directly on fan responses and productions, such as Rebecca Bryant’s account of the way players have rejected and circumvented recent Dungeons & Dragons updates; Amanda Odom’s look at the sensory experiences of live-action role playing; Joe Bisz’s description of player productivity in card collecting; and Julia Beck and Frauke Herrling’s provocative suggestion that reads role-playing game characters through the lens of fan fiction criticism.

The issue also features interviews with Paul Marino, cofounder and executive producer of Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences (AMAS); Doris Rusch, gaming scholar and video game designer; business professor Tony Driscoll; and Diane E. Levin, professor of early childhood education.

Check out the entire Table of Contents here.

The third issue of TWC will feature more general submissions and is scheduled for release on September 15, 2009. No. 4 is slated to be a special issue on the WB television show Supernatural, “Saving People, Hunting Things,” guest edited by Catherine Tosenberger, and will appear on March 15, 2010 (call for papers available here). TWC has also just issued a call for papers for a special historical issue, “Fan Works and Fan Communities in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” slated for spring 2011, guest edited by Nancy Reagin and Anne Rubenstein (call for papers available here).