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TWC releases No. 33, “Fan Studies Methodologies”

Transformative Works and Cultures has released No. 33, “Fan Studies Methodologies,” guest edited by Julia E. Largent, Milena Popova, and Elise Vist.

This issue’s contents emphasize what the editors call the multi-inter-para-disciplinary nature of the field of fan studies, with contributions addressing topics related to methodology, such as subject position, feminism, affect/feelings, (self-)presentation, race, and power.

So what we set out to do in this special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures is start conversations on how we do fan studies. We want this conversation to recognize the strengths, diversity, and potential of our field. At the same time, we want it to start grappling with some of the challenges we face: the citational elisions, the affect and embodiedness of our work, our at times conflicting/conflicted dual positionality as fans and scholars, the sometimes failed dialogue with fans who can and do talk back.

We hope that this special issue will give you ideas for new approaches (and new collaborators!), will help you pinpoint and begin to address some of your own methodological anxieties, and will challenge you to think outside your theoretical and methodological comfort zone. We also very much hope that this is only the start of this conversation. We are not interested in canonizing one particular or even several methodologies. Rather, much like the fans we study, we would like to encourage you to build your own fanons of fan studies.

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OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Katie Davis and Cecilia Aragon

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.

Cecilia Aragon is a Professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, and a long-time science fiction, fantasy, anime, and manga fan. She teaches and studies human-centered data science, computer science, and data visualization. Katie Davis is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School and a founding member and Co-Director of the UW Digital Youth Lab. Her research explores the role of new media technologies in young people’s personal, social, and academic lives, with a particular focus on the intersection between networked technologies, identity development, and well-being during adolescence and emerging adulthood. Today, Cecilia and Katie talk about discovering fandom and their research on fanfiction communities.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

Cecilia: I wrote my first fanfic when I was ten years old, but as an isolated first-generation Latina growing up in small-town Indiana, I had no clue that’s what I was doing. I’d read The Lord of the Rings and fallen in love with Tolkien’s world, but was upset that there were so few female characters. I thought, couldn’t girls have adventures too? So I rewrote the story in a spiral notebook, re-gendering a few of the main characters and adding some adventures I thought were missing. But I never
showed that notebook to anyone, and it didn’t occur to me at the time that anyone else might enjoy doing the same thing.

I first became aware of fandom as a community in the mid-1970s when I became a teenager and an avid fantasy and science fiction fan. Unfortunately, I was an extreme introvert, too shy and anxious to go to cons. Fanfics weren’t posted publicly in those days (at least nowhere I knew of), so I never read fics or got involved in any of the communities where fics were shared. It’s really too bad for me the web didn’t exist at this time, because I know now that online fandom communities would’ve helped me through an extremely difficult adolescence.

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OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Leah Steuer

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.

Leah Steuer is a PhD candidate in Media & Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her work engages the body as primary site of media reception, and her dissertation explores somatic-affective approaches to TV audience studies. Today, Leah talks about her article in Transformative Works and Cultures.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I became involved in online fan communities around age 12, in the early 2000s. At the time I was especially passionate about Whose Line Is It Anyway and made many friends on Fanfiction.net, Yahoo Groups, and various fan forums for the show. It was certainly a weird first foray into producing and consuming fanworks — we were a very small fandom and, at that time, writing Real Person Fiction made your work very vulnerable to deletion on the major fanworks hubs. Throughout my early teens (rather than producing fanworks of my own) I was usually more interested in getting to know the major players in my fandoms and creating social spaces on platforms like GeoCities and Angelfire for communal squee-ing, analyzing, and fantasizing.

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