POTENTIAL CHAPTER SUMMARIES
Chapter one will establish the theoretical intervention of the study. Here I will draw upon affect theory (Berlant, Ahmed, Ngai), materialist analysis (Jameson, Federici, Williams), and current applications of both in the fields of new media and digital humanities (Gregg, Liu, Nowviskie) to argue for the value and necessity of an affective materialist approach
The second chapter will treat discussions and representation of labour within fan cultures. Whether the product is artwork, fanfiction, or detailed critical analysis, fans increasingly generate a wealth of content related to the media they are consuming. While often characterized as a labour of love, for which the lack of compensation is both an ethical and legal imperative, the recent publications of 50 Shades of Grey, a work of Twilight fanfiction, and the Lexicon, a Harry Potter companion, as well as the recent development of Kindle Worlds, a fanfiction sale platform, all suggest that fan labour is coming into increasing contact with the commercial logic of capital. Given that many fanbases, including the two I have named, are heavily populated by women, I hope to consider how the fraught nature of this intersection cannot be understood without attention to how fan’s love and/as production are frequently gendered female.
In the third chapter of my project, I will take up the practice of academic blogging and micro-blogging. As a para-academic practice, blogging has been positioned as a way to use low-stakes writing to increase productivity and make academic work more accessible to a general audience (Weller). Yet, the recent controversy which erupted when a female scientist, Danielle Lee, declined an opportunity to submit her work to a blog when she learned she would not receive compensation, and then was publically attacked on deeply misogynistic terms, suggests that academic blogs are also a site for the violent reinforcement of normative assumptions regarding for whom particular affects are pre-supposed to be compensation enough for all online work (Lee). Assuming that the blogging of my own work continues, I would also use this chapter as a space in which to reflect upon the affective labour involved in producing my own work. While my ability to comment specifically on that section of the chapter is obviously limited at this early stage, I would likely consider how my own blogging participates in a set of strategies some term professionalization, while also attempting to complicate the terms under which the category of ‘professional’ is constituted.
The fourth chapter of my study will take up piracy collectives, organizations that (often illegally) circulate material currently protected by intellectual copyright laws. Regulations governing such spaces, which often include a requirement to maintain a certain ratio of uploading to downloading (such that a user is required to give at least as much as they receive to the community), often resist the language which links love for an artist or organization to the necessity for paying to access that material. Loving other pirates, in other words, is the site of emphasis rather than loving (and offering payment for) a work. Yet, piracy collectives are often overwhelmingly populated by white, straight male subjects, and understood in highly masculine terms (Phillip), such that their oppositional relationship to capital seems predicated upon a myriad of normative privileges. Here, then, I will ask what expressions of loving are pre-supposed as revolutionary, anti-capitalist acts.
In the final chapter, I consider the role of crowdfunding. In the case of YouCaring, a platform devoted to raising funds primarily for out-of-pocket health care costs, or the recent crowdfunding of Jessica Padron’s internship with a US senator (Ohlheiser), affect is seemingly placed in the service of unpaid, non-digital labour, or positioned as a small-scale alternative to larger systemic changes. However, the crowdfunding campaign undertaken on behalf of transgendered college student Donnie Collins, managed to not only successfully raise enough money to cover his top surgery, but also produced a shift in his health care provider’s policy towards transgendered students (James). This suggests that the affective force of a crowd can also extend beyond the moment of monetary exchange and in fact trouble the conditions that made this exchange necessary. While it remains essential to be critical of the systemic conditions rendering it necessary for some of the most precarious of subjects to generate a crowd willing and able to fund them, the affective labours and force of the crowd in crowdfunding also threatens to exceed the normative boundaries structuring their relationships and potential.
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