OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Sharon Marcus

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.

Sharon Marcus is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and editor in chief of Public Books. Today, Sharon talks about the book she published this year, The Drama of Celebrity, from Princeton University Press.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I became a fan long before I knew what a fan was, and my initial experiences of fandom were very out of phase with those around me. When I was around six, in the early 1970s. I saw Errol Flynn on television in the movie Robin Hood (1938) and developed a crush on him. No-one else my age even knew who he was, and my parents mocked him, but I liked his insouciance, his bow and arrow, and the fact that he wore tights.

A few years later, I developed an interest in Vivien Leigh, who died in 1967, a year after I was born. None of my friends had heard of her, either. My earliest experiences of fandom were solitary, mediated, and nostalgic –- the celebrities I became obsessed with had long departed this world. Perhaps as a result, I never thought of myself as a fan, at least not the way my friends were fans of David Cassidy, Farrah Fawcett, or John Travolta. (I did, however, develop an opinion about Charlie’s Angels: Jaclyn Smith was my favorite.)

The first times I heard the word “fan” used, it was associated with violence. Irving Wallace’s novel The Fan Club became a best-seller in 1974: the plot focused on five male fans who kidnap an actress they’re obsessed with so that she’ll have sex with them. In 1980, Mark Chapman murdered John Lennon; in 1981, John Hinckley tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan to get Jodie Foster’s attention. Fandom seemed excessive, criminal, pathological.

In college and graduate school, I studied nineteenth-century literature and learned that fandom had a long and complex history. The young Charlotte Bronte wrote a fan letter to a favorite poet and asked him for advice about her writing. Charles Dickens’ readers felt a personal connection to him that he fostered by addressing them directly in prefaces to his novels and by giving live readings from his works.

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OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Lauren Rouse

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.

Lauren is a PhD student at the University of Central Florida in their Texts & Technology program. She’s been writing fan fiction since age 11, has recently become an avid indoor gardener, and probably can be found with a cup of coffee in her hand. Today, Lauren talks about her recently completed research on fan responses to fanworks.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I first found out about fandom through the Harry Potter fandom. I hated how Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (the book) had ended, so at eleven, I took to my Word document to rewrite the end of Dumbledore’s life and Harry’s time at Hogwarts. Because this was 2006, I ended up stumbling upon Fiction Alley a few weeks after writing my ending and started reading fanworks there (I spent all my time in Schnoogle because the romance fiction scared me: I was 11, boys were disgusting).

From there, I was hooked on fanworks. My mom limited my computer usage to an hour a day, but I probably spent that whole hour on the computer reading updates and new fics. I’ve been a part of many fandoms (Harry Potter, Twilight, One Direction, Kingsman, Star Wars, Teen Wolf, Fleabag, the MCU, and Sherlock) and have written in many of the fandoms.

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OTW Guest Post

Guest Post: Bridget Liang & Catherine Duchastel de Montrouge

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.

Bridget Liang is a mixed race, queer, transfeminine, neurodiverse, disabled, fat fangirl. They’re a PhD candidate in the Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies Program at York University, a community researcher, workshop and group facilitator, performance artist, and fiction writer. Catherine Duchastel de Montrouge is a PhD student in Science and Technology Studies at York University in Ontario, and a research assistant in the PiET (Practices in Enabling Technologies) lab in the Lassonde School of Engineering and Computer Science. Cath is interested in how technosocial practices influence disability discourses in fanfiction spaces. Today, Bridget & Cath talk about their work on disability and fanfiction research in the issue they edited of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

Bridget: I was 14 when I first discovered fan fiction. Some of the girls I knew at school were talking about it and I thought I’d check it out. And of course, the first thing I did was go to the R rated section of fanfiction.net. I still remember the first fanfic I ever read. It was about Yami Yuugi from YuGiOh being made pretty and feminine for a date with Seto Kaiba. I didn’t like the ship so I became a puzzleshipper (Yami Yuugi x Yuugi Mouto). And I also quickly jumped into the Beyblade, Pokemon, Digimon, Harry Potter, Fire Emblem, Golden Sun, and David Eddings fandoms. And funnily enough, I didn’t even fathom the possibility that I was even gay even though I read only m/m and the odd f/f pairing. I was actively disinterested in m/f pairings.

I lived in my own little bubble of shipping feels. It didn’t occur to me that there was anything wrong with my fic reading practices or how I thought that, “oh hey, this is interesting, these guys are hot and it’s hot when they are having sex with each other”. When I was 16 it suddenly hit me. “I want to engage in the romance and the sex with the guys around me, wah?” But instead of spiraling into internalized homophobia, I accepted myself as gay pretty quickly. I just was and that was the end of it. I believe this is partly because of fandom, and partly because I’m the kind of autistic that isn’t affected by social pressures or norms. I was also the weirdo freak that no one really paid attention to as well. But it was through growing into my sexuality that I was able to make friends. My first friends who were genuine friends with me were queer identified fans — some of whom I’m still friends with today.

Cath: My very first encounter with fandom was in the late 1990’s when I was working night shift in a call centre: one of my co-workers would write Star Trek fanfiction during our down time, but I’m not even sure she used the word fanfiction to describe it. I know she sent it to the writers of the shows, which would indicate a different type of fanwork from fanfiction.

I didn’t quite understand what made her do it then, and although I looked up Star Trek stories written by fans online, I somehow did not get into it then. It wasn’t until a few years later, during the summer of 2002, when I was coming out to myself as queer and found Chimera Bloom’s original fiction and femslash fanfiction, mostly Janeway/Seven of Nine (ST:Voyager) and Buffy/Willow (BTVS) AUs. I remember reading a Janeway/Seven of Nine lesbian smut fanfic and having my mind blown by it. Although Chimera Bloom disappeared shortly thereafter, I had found the Xena Warrior Princess fanfic archives, and just went from there. I read as much as I could on those archives! For the longest time I associated fanfic with femslash, and it’s only when I started reading fics on fanfiction.net that I realized slash was much more popular.

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