Fannish preferences

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract—Editorial for Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 7 (2011).

[0.2] Keywords—Behavior; Construction; Fan

TWC Editor. 2011. "Fannish Preferences." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 7. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0391.

[1.1] As TWC has entered its fourth year and established itself as journal, we continue to expand our own understanding of what constitutes fans, fandom, and fannish behavior and what topics and groups are worth studying. Our spring special issues collectively push to explore a specific subdiscipline or theoretical approach (such as the forthcoming remix/fan video and fan activism issues), whereas our general issues showcase the breadth of fan studies. From the historical perspective of medieval literature to current cult favorite Twilight, from cosplay to music blogs, from ethnography to literary analysis, this issues addresses a variety of themes, topics, and theoretical approaches.

[1.2] Even with this range, however, there are certain theoretical advances apparent in this issue, No. 7. One is the emphasis on performance, a central feature since at least Kurt Lancaster's Interacting with Babylon 5 (2001), but clearly dominating the Theory section of this issue. The other is a merging of two often separate fields: the study of music fans, and fandom studies as it has come to dominate media studies. The two essays focusing on rock bands and their fans demonstrate how different forms of fan studies can profitably interact. These essays foreground the range and variety of fan engagements even if the different case studies analyze particular communities or fan behaviors.

2. Theory and Praxis

[2.1] Our first two Theory essays use ethnographic methods to explore the performative aspects of fan practices. In "Culturally Mapping Universes: Fan Production as Ethnographic Fragments," Jen Gunnels and Carrie J. Cole read fans as ethnographers studying and interpreting the source texts. Gunnels and Cole coin the term ethnodramaturg to acknowledge the fictional performative aspect of fan interpretations and creations; in their essay, they offer an inspiringly new take on fan identities and productions—one that we think will energize the field and spark application studies. Nicolle Lamerichs's "Stranger than Fiction: Fan Identity in Cosplay" uses concepts of performance theory and performativity to describe and analyze the fannish practice of cosplay. Looking at theories of the body and the boundaries between body and costume, Lamerichs theoretically constructs cosplay as a form of identity-constructing narrative.

[2.2] Even with their similar setups of human teens in a world of supernatural creatures and vampire love interests, many of our readers and viewers consider Buffy and Twilight opposing forces in terms of quality and political issues. Whereas the previous two essay read fan productions as ultimately theatrical, Amanda L. Hodges and Laurel P. Richmond's "Taking a Bite out of Buffy: Carnivalesque Play and Resistance in Fan Fiction" connects fan fiction's exploration of characters' boundaries within Bakhtin's theories of the carnivalesque. The authors use theories on power, gender, and sexuality to argue for the empowering and ultimately subversive potential of the figure of Faith, especially as she is formed and transformed in Buffy femslash. In contrast, Jacqueline Marie Pinkowitz, in "'The rabid fans that take [Twilight] much too seriously': The Construction and Rejection of Excess in Twilight Antifandom," uses the concept of the antifan to analyze the discourses on quality that have sprung up around Twilight fans. She focuses on the rhetorical strategies of the anti-Twilight movement as she explores the feminist and fannish relevance of antifans within a fandom that predominantly attracts teen girls. The juxtaposition of these two essays provides an important reminder of our own notions of qualitative hierarchy and academic and fannish preferences.

[2.3] The final two essays of the Praxis section look at music fandoms and two bands' online fan communities as a place where political and social values can intersect with fannish affect. Kristine Weglarz's "Lifting the Curse: Pearl Jam's 'Alive' and 'Bushleaguer' and the Marketplace of Meanings" describes Pearl Jam's conscious interpellation of fans as creative consumers. She then looks at fans' reaction to the possibly contradictory political messages of the band's ethos and its political activism, arguing that fans endorsed Pearl Jam's abstract message of democratic ideas yet resisted direct engagement in US political activism and prescriptive politics. Lucy Bennett likewise looks at political ethos in "Delegitimizing Strategic Power: Normative Identity and Governance in Online R.E.M. Fandom." She focuses on the internal power dynamics within a particular R.E.M. fan community and how the band's ethos and community norms created a self-regulating body that overturned and undermined its own power hierarchies.

3. Symposium and Review

[3.1] By design, Symposium—possibly our most provocative section—offers the widest possible variety of approaches and authors: historical accounts and personal narratives, high school students and medieval scholars. This section has always stood for a meeting of fan and academic, acafan and fan scholar, burgeoning writer and experienced pro. This issue of TWC offers symposia that brings together multiple thought-provoking and enjoyable essays. In "The 'Lover' and Early Modern Fandom," Vera Keller uses the medieval concept of the lover, the liefhebber of things, ideas, and practices, to suggest a parallel between this taste culture and contemporary media culture with its emphasis on networks and collaboration. By offering a historical context to what we often tend to conceptualize as a quite recent phenomenon, Keller offers new ways of intersecting disciplines and approaches. Francesca Musiani, like Keller, takes a broad and theoretical focus as she explores the ethical questions of "Editorial Policies, 'Public Domain,' and Acafandom." Her critical take on TWC's own policies challenges our ethical stance on the role of the fan and the academic as she argues that editorial policies generate ethical imperatives and construct philosophical frameworks.

[3.2] The next two Symposium essays move from the abstract to the specific: they focus on specific topics, here the genre of hurt/comfort and a specific fan story. Despite these specific focuses, both Symposium pieces situate themselves within a feminist transformative theoretical framework, making their individual experiences and readings relevant to our readers. Judith May Fathallah adopts a personal voice as she explores "H/c and Me: An Autoethnographic Account of a Troubled Love Affair." Fathallah draws on personal experience, acknowledging the crucial role affect plays in fannish reading and writing. She focuses on the role of the body, sex, and gender in her personal fannish journey as it relates to the often maligned, but also much beloved, genre of hurt/comfort. Hui Min Annabeth Leow closes out the Symposium section with "Subverting the Canon in Feminist Fan Fiction: Concession." Focusing on one specific Iron Man fan fiction, Leow performs a close reading that connects this particular story both to the original source text and to larger concerns of feminist theories and fan studies.

[3.3] Elizabeth Ellcessor reviews Nancy K. Baym's Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Polity Press, 2010), which gives an introductory overview of online communication and its effects on interpersonal relationships. Sean Duncan reviews Sarah Lynne Bowman's The Function of Role-Playing Games (McFarland, 2010), a study of role-playing games, including tabletop, computer, and online games, with a particular focus on issues of identity.

4. Conclusion

[4.1] The next issue of TWC, No. 8, will appear on November 15, 2011, and is a double guest-edited special issue. It contains essays on race and fandom, coedited by Sarah Gatson and Robin Anne Reid, and essays from the 2010 Textual Echoes conference at Umeå University, Sweden, coedited by the conference organizers, Berit Åström, Katarina Greggersdotter, Malin Isaksson, Maria Lindgren Leavenworth, and Maria Svensson. No. 9 and No. 10, both slated for spring 2012, will also be guest-edited special issues: Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova coedit the special issue on fan activism, and Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo's special issue focuses on remix and fan vids.

[4.2] TWC No. 11 will be an open, unthemed issue, and we welcome general submissions. We particularly encourage fans to submit Symposium essays. We encourage all potential authors to read the submission guidelines (http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions). The close date for receipt of copy for No. 9 is March 15, 2012.

5. Acknowledgments

[5.1] It is not possible to properly acknowledge the depth of appreciation we feel toward everyone who has helped make this issue of TWC possible. They have suffered hard deadlines, late nights, and short due dates. As always, we thank the authors in this issue, whose original work makes TWC possible; the peer reviewers, who freely provide their time and expertise; the editorial team members, whose engagement with and solicitation of material is so valuable; and the production team members, who transform rough manuscripts into publishable documents.

[5.2] The following people worked on TWC No. 7 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Anne Kustritz, Patricia Nelson, and Suzanne Scott (Symposium); and Louisa Stein (Review).

[5.3] The following people worked on TWC No. 7 in a production capacity: Rrain Prior (production editor); Beth Friedman, Shoshanna Green, and Vickie West (copyeditors); Wendy Carr, Ekaterina Fawl, Allison Morris, Kristen Murphy, and Gretchen Treu (layout); and Carmen Montopoli and Vickie West (proofreaders).

[5.4] TWC thanks the journal project's Organization for Transformative Works board liaison, Francesca Coppa. OTW provides financial support and server space to TWC but is not involved in any way in the content of the journal, which is editorially independent.

[5.5] TWC thanks all its board members, whose names appear on TWC's masthead, as well as the following additional peer reviewers who provided service for TWC No. 7: Gail Bondi, Melissa Click, Francesca Coppa, Jen Gunnels, Ross Hagen, Alexandra Jenkins, Fred Johnson, Miki Kaneda, David Kociemba, Marjorie Manifold, Michelle McCudden, Jose Neglia, Bernard Perron, and Kristine Weglarz.

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Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), ISSN 1941-2258, is an online-only Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. TWC is a member of DOAJ. Contact the Editor with questions.