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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Support the OTW by Reading!

Choose Books, Buy Books, Support the OTW

The Organization for Transformative Works is celebrating its 10th anniversary because thousands of fans have supported it through donations over the years. And while direct donations are the most helpful form of support (which can be made at any time of the year) there are other ways to help. You can:

  • check with your workplace to see if they’ll do corporate matching of donations
  • if you use Amazon in the U.S. for purchases, sign up to Amazon Smile and select the OTW as your charity of choice.

(There are even automatic redirect apps you can install on Chrome or Firefox so you won’t have to remember to sign in to Smile).

But probably the most fun way is to purchase one or both books whose royalties support the OTW! Below, three of the OTW’s founding members — Kristina Busse, Karen Hellekson, and Francesca Coppa — from our Transformative Works & Cultures committee discuss the books they edited: The Fanfiction Reader: Folk Tales for the Digital Age and The Fan Fiction Studies Reader.
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