Internet and Fan Culture Inspires Social Activism

Transformative Works and Culture Discusses the Impact of Fandom on Social Activism

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 15, 2012)—_Transformative Works and Cultures_ (TWC, http://journal.transformativeworks.org/) today released its tenth issue, “Transformative Works and Fan Activism.” This issue is guest edited by media studies scholars Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova and features academic articles on the growing involvement of fan cultures and fandom on activism. Following its regular format, this open-access online multimedia journal has collected scholarly essays, personal essays, and book reviews that seek to bridge fan and academic writers and readers. TWC is published under the umbrella of the nonprofit fan advocacy group Organization for Transformative Works (https://transformativeworks.org/).

Co-editor Henry Jenkins argues, “One way that popular culture can enable a more engaged citizenry is by allowing people to play with power on a microlevel…Popular culture may be preparing the way for a more meaningful public culture.” Jenkins’s contribution discusses the idea of “cultural acupunture”; other essays discuss civic engagement via the Harry Potter Alliance; the German federal elections of 2009; the response to the Wisconsin legislature’s stripping unions of collective bargaining rights; and affect and agency. Essays about specific fandoms address The X-Files, The Colbert Report,the Whedonverses, and Ho Denise Wan See. A central interest of many essays is the use of social media by organizations such as the Harry Potter Alliance, Invisible Children (whose Kony 2012 video recently went viral), and the Nerdfighters.

This large special issue emerges from work being done by the Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement Project (http://sites.google.com/site/participatorydemocracyproject/) at the University of Southern California (Henry Jenkins, principal investigator).

Guest editor Henry Jenkins is a professor of communications and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California. Formerly the director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program, he specializes in fan cultures and their effect on world making and franchise growth; his landmark book Textual Poachers remains a classic in the fan studies academic canon. Based on his studies on the evolution of popular culture and the processing of news information, Jenkins focuses on the transformation of the role of journalism in the digital age. His most recent book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, discusses the intersection of grassroots and corporate media, with examples of the transformative fan interactions in the worlds of Harry Potter and the Matrix.

Guest editor Sangita Shresthova is a Czech/Nepali international development specialist, filmmaker, media scholar, and dancer. She earned her doctorate from UC Los Angeles’ Department of World Arts and Cultures and specializes in the globalization of Bollywood dance. Shresthova also manages Jenkins’s new project on participatory culture and civic engagement.

Founded in 2007, The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), is a nonprofit established established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fan works and fan culture in its myriad forms. Advocating on behalf of fans, the OTW believes that fan works are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate.

The 11th issue of TWC will feature more general submissions and is scheduled for release on September 15, 2012. No. 12 is slated to be a special issue on “Transnational Boys’ Love Fan Studies,” guest edited by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma, and will appear on March 15, 2013. No. 13 is slated to be a special issue on “Appropriating, Interpreting, and Transforming Comic Books,” guest edited by Matthew Costello, and will appear June 15, 2013.