A director's chair with the OTW logo on it and the words OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Jennifer Duggan

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

Jennifer Duggan is Associate Professor of English at the University of South-Eastern Norway, a Harry Potter fan, and author or co-author of numerous articles and book chapters on children’s and youth literature and media, fandom, multilinguality, multiliteracies, and social difference. Today, Jennifer talks about researching fan demographics in the Harry Potter fandom.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I suppose that depends on how you define both terms!

When I was a kid, I has a string of obsessions. At my youngest, I identified heavily with a string of male characters (Peter Pan, Cody from The Rescuers Down Under, Luke from Star Wars), often dressing as them and/or refusing to answer to my own name. I reread and rewatched favourite books and films so many times that I had to purchase new copies, because the old ones would fall apart or stop working. Whenever I was given money to buy practical things, like clothing, I would spend the least possible on what I was supposed to purchase (usually at second-hand stores) and use the rest on books.

I also used to collect objects, trading cards, and images related to favourite series, like Sailor Moon. Later, with some books/films/shows, including Harriet the Spy, The X-Files, and Anastasia (the animated film), my sister, one of our best friends, and I would do extensive background research. We’d write each other newsletters, write sequels/prequels/episodes, and draw or print out fan art and images, all of which we kept in binders that we took with us whenever we visited each other. (We still pull them out sometimes and read our works to each other, which inevitably ends in hysterics.) I suppose in some way, we knew of organized fandom even then, because we used fan sites as sources for images, but I don’t think we realized that we could actually participate. But we didn’t need to, because we had our own tiny fandom, and it was perfect.

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A director's chair with the OTW logo on it and the words OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Cynthia and Tina Mendenhall

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

Cynthia Mendenhall is an avid crafter, especially interested in cross stitch. She started Taylor and Cromwell a few years ago and loves creating work that people can relate to and be engaged with. In her free time she helps run a cat and small animal rescue. Tina Mendenhall joined Taylor and Cromwell after its creation and does mostly quotes and graphic work. Outside of that she helps run an animal rescue, writes, and is working on becoming a cryptoid. Today, Tina and Cynthia talk about fannish crafting.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

Tina: I was always really into things like Star Wars and Batman when I was growing up, but for the most part I didn’t really know about fandoms until high school. The things I was into either my friends also liked or I was alone in them. In middle school a friend started getting into the Star Wars fandom, but I was mostly only connected to it through her. In high school a different friend introduced me to Fanfiction.net to show me Full Metal Alchemist fanfiction and a lot of my friends started drawing fan art. I hung out on LiveJournal a lot in different fandoms, but never really said or did anything besides some super poorly drawn fan art. I didn’t get really into creating my own fan art until I was in college and learned to knit to make a Doctor Who scarf.

Cynthia: I never really thought about fandom and fanworks before a couple of years ago, even when I first started making patterns (starting with one of the Hamilton ones). I never really considered it a fandom thing, just a thing I liked and wanted to stitch for Tina. We have a roommate that is in a lot of fandoms and talks about hers pretty often, so I knew the concept I guess at that point, but didn’t consider myself part of any (it seemed like it was something that younger people considered more than people my age).

A couple of years ago it started to click to me that technically I was in the fandoms for things that I really enjoyed. Fanworks were never something I actively thought about — when you enjoy something you like seeing items that remind you of it, and you work it into what you’re doing. You see this come out in all sorts of places, but the first thing that pops to mind is that often writers will write into their characters things that they enjoy (whether it be fandoms/hobbies or just everyday preferences). So if you’re really into something like musicals (or anything else) you’re going to want to collect musical items, or in crafters/artists/fanfic writers’ cases, you’ll want to create musical things. That just has always made sense to me.

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A director's chair with the OTW logo on it and the words OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Leah Elisabeth

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

Leah is a librarian/program coordinator in a small town library. She has been writing fanfiction since 2009. Currently, she spends all her free time participating in and facilitating fandom events. Today, Leah Elisabeth talks about her work with the Secret Santa Exchange in the Untamed fandom.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

My first active fandom was Supernatural. I started watching in the first half of season 5 and was immediately addicted. When the mid-season finale aired, I was absolutely distraught and immediately started looking online for things to tide me over until the show came back in the new year. I found fanfiction on Fanfiction.net. Shortly after that, my laptop broke and I had to send it away for repairs. This was before I had a smartphone, so with no access to my newest addiction I was inspired to start writing my own fanfiction.

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