Blog Post

Conversations about fan culture and academia

 

It's taken me a while to remember to reblog this from my own site. But a few weeks ago, my contribution to a set of debates about scholars' personal relationships between academia and fandom (broadly defined) went live at Henry Jenkins's blog. The whole set of conversations, which is being mirrored at Dreamwidth, is well worth a look. 

For me, one of the best parts has been to see the different influences on my thinking come together. I've been mentored unofficially by fan studies scholars, particularly Kristina Busse, for years, and have learned so much from being part of that community. At the same time, I've been trained in queer studies by Jack Halberstam and Karen Tongson, and have had many conversations about fandom with them and with scholars like Christine Bacareza Balance and Jayna Brown. Since Henry Jenkins joined USC, I've started to have those worlds come together on my doorstep––and now they are all talking to each other online.  
 
Roberta Pearson and I have very different experiences of both academia and fandom; she works on industry and looks at hierarchies of taste and value, while I am concerned with texts' and cultures' theoretical and political interventions around queerness, race, gender and capitalism. I enjoyed corresponding with her very much, though, and learned a lot from her responses to my comments. It gave me the opportunity to articulate my relationship to fandom more concretely than I have before.
 
I don't want only to study fans or to use fans' ideas to make sense of texts, although those are certainly dynamics that I engage in. I tend to prefer to think about fandom as about as a set of communities where people are engaging in cultural production, intellectual exchange and concrete worldmaking that participates in the same project as the one I'm working on.
When I talk about acafandom, I'm talking at least partly about acknowledging and doing justice to my own thinking's debt to fannish theorists and artists outside the academia machine who have given me terms and ideas that help me theorize just as much as the dense analyses and critical explorations of literary and cultural studies do.
I think fandom is a really important site of digital knowledge production outside academic and other institutions, so I think these conversations and the cultural practices they are alluding to could be important for HASTAC people to check out.
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4 comments

Thank you so much for these links, which are helping me think through a closely-linked set of ideas on reciprocity, citation, ethics in digital communities, and methodological challenges of academic production about them. Also, seriously, a fellow fan! I'm so glad! 

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I am really glad I reblogged it, then!

(Also: spot the fannish socialization in my replying-to-comment habits...?)

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Yup, you're darn fast :) (Nice about it, too. Thank you!)

That fannish socialisation-response thingy (technical term!) is actually one of the interesting intersections for me, between academic and fannish life -- we're taught so carefully to respond in both spheres, but how we respond and why seem up for grabs/at stake in terms of critical response, or even critique. I've been having an interesting time responding to a comment on one dissertation chapter that dealt with "compliance" in fan responses, especially in terms of non- or peri-academic critical registers; it's taken me all summer plus change, actually, which is why hearing all those scholars talking about that juncture between acceptance, love, and analysis has been so helpful. And reassuring, to know that fandom's contentious pluralities continue on even as a field called fandom studies (?!) establishes itself in the academy. 

In somewhat related news... Do you know about Shannon Farley's ACLA seminar on The Rise of Transformative Work? She was in my seminar last year, and although RI is a bit far in terms of time and budget (yeeowch!), I'm going to try and be there this year, too. The 2012 site says proposals are due on the 15th, but they have been known to push deadlines back.  

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Wow, that does look like a great panel and I would love to attend the conference... Sadly I don't think I can make my budget stretch to it, though. :(

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