Blog Post

This post is filled with bloggy firstness.

Greetings and salutations, HASTAC communities! 

I'm thrilled to be participating as a scholar in HASTAC, and somewhat ambivalent (but also excited) to be blogging under my own name for the first time. I've been a blogger and active participant in specific online fan cultures for some years, but have carefully curated my online presence to exclude almost all of my IRL activities, a process which has been educational in its own right. Within the digital humanities, I am interested primarily in fandom studies, specifically through transnational fandoms, alternate authorship modes, difference and representation, and gift culture in the context of online cultural production and interaction. 

But my interests, they shift, merge, return... Perhaps a list? 

Things I've been pondering include:

Whitney Phillip's quite amazing Interview with a Real-Life Troll. I am really interested to see where she goes with it. 

The ethics of studying online cultures: how do I rigorously analyze fan production and activity, while simultaneously recognizing the humanity and materiality of the fan hirself? Is aca-fandom as brilliantly participatory as fandom itself (Henry Jenkins), or does it come with a whole set of dichotomous considerations which want to pull it apart as a scholarly position (Matt Hills)? 

Whether the neutrinos have broken special relativity. Whether we've cracked mind reading. (Many thanks, 3quarksdaily! You make my life both strange and charming.)

Catherynne M. Valente's elegant  myth-mashing in Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time. What kinds of origin stories do we now create for ourselves? 

The Rhetoric of the Hyperlink, in which Venkat Rao talks about the hyperlink as internet vernacular. I am fascinated by this because I am fascinated by citational practices, especially in the context of online cultures of exchange. 

Fansubbing, scanlation, and other forms of transnational piracy (so-called): Who gets to define the (ex)culpability of these meaning-producers and content-purveyors? What material conditions govern their proliferation and popularity? Are their actions international law violations, massive multilateral shifts in intellectual properties definitions, ultimate expressions of deep enthusiasm, a great font of leechers? Or are they all that and a box of ninjas? 

The fact that I will see the Chaucer Blogger (Le Vostre GC himself!) IRL in October, but that my copy of his book won't arrive from the scrivener's in time to receive hys inscriptioun. Hélas! 

It's good to know I'm in a community of scholars who might want to discuss these things with me, either separately or all at once. I hope to hear from you soon in the comments, either here or somewhere else! 

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6 comments

Hey Regina! Great post!

I'd love love love to get a discussion going on ethics and methods of studying fan communities, and very interested in hearing more about how your pseudonymous work and your named academic work influence each other, and intermingle, if at all.

I live in these issues, and about all I know is that Received Wisdom is full of wrong things: lab-coat-and-notepad research reinforces privilege and the subject/object distinction, while getting false data and ensuring some of the most interesting communities stay closed and unstudied.  OTOH, actively negotiating the borderlands of identity and disclosure is *hard,* and easy to get catastrophically wrong.

I'm flailing through all this on a current project I'll blog about here tomorrow, and would love to hear how you and others have been approaching this stuff.

And, isn't Whitney amazing? I love her work, and her communications style. It gives me hope that more of us can do really good work and still be compellingly interesting and readable.

It's gonna be a great year here!

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So... so you can talk to me all about the legal ramifications and ethical complications of fandom production in its myriad forms? Cue up the Big Nerdy Dance of Joy! It's exactly those borders of autoethnography, disclosure=vulnerability, legal action, and deep enthusiasm/self-formation which trouble my attempts to adequately address the fandoms in their multiplicities and myriad ways of becoming. It's like wanting to honor a heritage without reducing it to comestible bits. How do we do that with some vestige of truth? What modes of address account for previous damage and distress in fandom studies, while adequately investigating the fandoms' prolific production? What structures can give accounts of the extension of critical inquiry into the fandoms' tight, linked online circuits of affection, friendship, familiarity/closeness? 

Um. Halp? Because I do think that the future of scholarship, itself a tight communal circuit with an increasingly online presence, lies in addressing these kinds of questions. 

Also, there's this awesome person involved with both academe and Transformative Works and Cultures. Her name is Shannon Farley, and she's running a seminar at the ACLA in early Spring: The Rise of Transformative Work. She was in my seminar on transformative works last year, and her paper was pretty great. If you tend in the literary directions as well as game theory, Latour's ANT, and legal acumen, do consider a submission. If not, cool. Spread the word! 

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OK, disclaimer, I'm only a kibitzer in intellectual property law, but I can translate. Now, if you needed SEC disclosure documents for your corporate takeover...  Anyhoo.  I've been working in legal anthropology, looking at how people create and modify "constitutions" for organizing themselves in online spaces, and I'm *finally* moving into looking at some more traditionally "fannish" stuff, that's desperately in need of being studied: the LJ pan-fandom roleplay communities.

Which is *perfect* for the ACLA conference you linked me to: a tale of collapse/catastrophe/change being collectively told/acted by (almost exclusively) women writing/performing as slashed male (corporate-propreitary) characters, where I'll be playing a canon bisexual woman version of an RL male historical figure. It's pure awesome.

And, game theory, ANT, literary stuff and law - throw in post/trans humanism and a good scoop of Foucault, and you've got me. Sound like I've found a new good place to play!

Thank  you!

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Some big names discussing "aca-fandom" as a tenable scholarly position (or not) -- fascinating stuff, really quite thoughtful, thought-provoking responses. I am a particular fan (ha) of the scholar who says ze is interested in being aca-fandom-identified partially or perhaps primarily as a way to acknowledge the debt ze has to fandoms and their production. That acknowledgment seems necessary somehow, an ethically-based humility: these ideas were mine, and they came from other people's generosity and brilliance, people who call themselves fans. 

Aca-fandom and Beyond (from HJenkins)

More on that! (also from HJenkins)

hat tip to the amazing Alexis Lothian for the heads-up on both of these. 

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Hi Regina! I just mused on some methodological questions over at my first post. While the work we do is quite different, I think we're ultimately interested in some similar issues. How exactly does one DO digital ethnographies?  Furthermore, how in the world do we do this research ethically, especially when so much of online life is predicated on at least semi-anonymity? That is--even if people aren't divulging information that isn't particularly personal or being used "unethically," does the very fact that it's sourced digitally demand a different kind of ethical approach?

I have no answers right now, just tons of questions. :-)

-Sarah

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Hey,

Thanks so much for stopping by! I am off to read your blog post directly (!!!), but Alexis Lothian just pointed me toward some interesting theoretical orientations and responses toward aca-fandom as a position, from Henry Jenkins' blog. It's a two-parter, and also fabulous. I know the fandoms thing isn't quite what you do (although, about that, the circulation-distortion of ugly recent political histories is always going to be interesting, hopefully to everybody) but their methodological sticking points are, I think, valid across quite a wide variety of digital histories and formations. 

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