Authors and authorship

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract—This issue contains several essays that examine authorship and authorial identity.

[0.2] Keywords—Analysis; Authorship; Fan fiction

TWC Editor. 2012. "Authors and Authorship." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 11. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2012.0467.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Fan fiction challenges and questions authorial control as fans rewrite the source text—and also as fannish tropes are shared and archetypal characters and narratives repeatedly get rewritten. The stunning popularity of E. L. James's erotic trilogy, beginning with Fifty Shades of Grey, published in 2011 after originally appearing as Twilight fan fiction, has only foregrounded the endless circulation of ideas and tropes, even as it has called into question notions of authorship. This general issue of TWC, No. 11, contains several essays that examine authorship and authorial identity: Alexandra Herzog studies reader/writer power struggles played out in author's notes to fan fiction; Staci Stutsman writes about blog authors appropriating their reader comments; Mark Lashley discusses lip dubbers who appropriate performance, if not authorship, across national and ethnic boundaries; and Heather Osborne discusses gamers who author their own virtual identities. Within the context of derivative works and transformation, confronting the author means also considering her relationship with ancillary texts, both officially approved and not, fans, and fan artworks.

[1.2] Part of the changes for fan studies include an ever-broadening understanding of what constitutes fans and transformative works while simultaneously restricting that understanding enough so that the terms remain meaningful. The challenge going forward—for fan studies in general and TWC in particular—will be to expand the notion of what constitutes fandom without losing core ideas of identity and meaning, and to broaden the scope of study to better negotiate the concepts of fan and fandom within all aspects of life and media engagement.

2. Theory and Praxis

[2.1] The Theory and Praxis essays in this issue range broadly, indicating the breadth of fan studies: the English literary canon, YouTube, the politics of the fan fiction genre of mpreg, and the gender identity of online avatars are all discussed here. These essays indicate the crucial need for close readings and analysis as they are read with and against broader concepts and theoretical frameworks. Natasha Simonova, in "Fan Fiction and the Author in the Early 17th Century: The Case of Sidney's Arcadia," writes against the myriad theories that posit an originary moment for fan fiction. Simonova argues for the early modern era as a point of origin for fan fiction with Sir Philip Sidney's romance, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia. Its fragmentary nature and the surrounding culture's different perceptions of authorship created a context that permitted writers to freely adapt and adopt plotlines and characters, filling in gaps and expanding the narratives. Although Simonova focuses on this particular case study, her essay's ultimate focus is on "early modern conceptions of authorship, originality, and literary property" and its influence and opposition to current debates surrounding these issues. Nicolle Lamerichs's "The Mediation of Fandom in Karin Giphart's Maak me blij," like Simonova's essay, looks for fannish tropes and narrative structures in nonfannish fiction, in this case a 2005 Dutch novel. The novel itself features fans and thus self-reflexively looks at the connections between lesbian fiction and fan fiction.

[2.2] Kyra Hunting's "Queer as Folk and the Trouble with Slash," like Lamerich, focuses on the role of fans and fan studies within queer culture. Hunting addresses the discrepancy between a show that already includes queer and explicit sexualities and its fan fictions, which often shy away from the more political aspects of such representations. Looking at the heteronormativity of many Queer as Folk mpreg stories, Hunting challenges the way fan studies often describes the political relations between texts and fan texts. The other essay in this issue that focuses on fan fiction studies is a Praxis essay, Alexandra Elisabeth Herzog's "'But this is my story and this is how I wanted to write it': Author's Notes as a Fannish Claim to Power in Fan Fiction Writing." Herzog studies the particular fan fiction paratext of author's notes—authorial comments appended to a piece of fan fiction that provide further information and context—to address the power struggle between readers and writers used to generate meaning. Because the fan fiction writer lacks the infrastructural, clearly delineated lines that exist in published fiction, she asserts her authorial power, Herzog argues, within and through these specific paratexts.

[2.3] The final two Praxis essays move toward the performative by looking at video and gaming performances. Both essays also look at the ideological frameworks in which these performances operate. Mark C. Lashley's "Lip Dubbing on YouTube: Participatory Culture and Cultural Globalization" reads lip dubbers as transnational creators as they appropriate and alter popular songs, thus resituating them within their own cultural contexts and performing them with their own, often non-Western, bodies. By rereading participatory culture as a "contested cultural space" (¶1.1), Lashley does not celebrate YouTube creators as radical and subversive; rather, he acknowledges their role within a global Western cultural economy. Finally, Heather Osborne looks at virtual performances in online gaming, in particular gender expressions within the games. Her "Performing Self, Performing Character: Exploring Gender Performativity in Online Role-Playing Games" analyzes data from an online survey that addresses gamers' gender and sexualities as well as their respective representations. Osborne finds that the roles explored in the game can be crucial to overall acceptance and empathy among players.

3. Symposium and Review

[3.1] Symposium likewise covers a range of diverse topics and methodologies in a variety of stylistic approaches. D. Wilson's highly personal meditation on "Queer Bandom: A Research Journey in Eight Parts" merges the author's personal journeys of following several bands around the country with meditations on queer space and time in the shifting discourses of online band fandom. This essay is proof of the value of a category that bridges the personal and the political, the fannish and the academic. Sharon Wheeler, in "From Secret Police to Gay Utopia: How a Professionals Slash Writer Disrupts Readers' Expectations" focuses on one show—The Professionals (1977–1983), an British secret-agent drama with an early fan following—and one alternate universe fan fiction series by a single author, Rhiannon, analyzing the five stories that comprise the series in detail. Wheeler's essay emphasizes that fan fiction is not only important as social and anthropological documents, but also as artistic works in their own right.

[3.2] The remaining two Symposium essays shift away from the more narrowly defined Western fan fiction media fandom. Paul Mason looks toward the beginnings of tabletop role-playing games in "RPG Transformations: Fan or Pro?" Unlike in media fandom, where the lines between production and fandom often remain firm on both sides, RPG fandom is more difficult to categorize, both in terms of authorship and creativity. Mason addresses these differences as he offers an important historical overview of the early years of Dungeons & Dragons and its fans. Staci Stutsman also addresses the unclear boundaries of authorship in "Blogging and Blooks: Communal Authorship in a Contemporary Context," in which she studies popular blogs and the tendency to turn blog posts, including selected comments, into publications. Stutsman explores the authority of the blog owner when choosing and selecting comments and when casting commenters and blog readers as characters within the book. Stutsman explores the various authorial dynamics in these books, where communal authorship lies at its center yet is only partially acknowledged within the publishing industry.

[3.3] Francesca Coppa's review of Paul Booth's Digital Fandom (Peter Lang, 2010) focuses on the use of fan cultures, and in particular multimedia digital fan works, to address the general tenets of media studies, all while creating a valuable addition to the field of fan studies. And Michael Z. Newman and Elana Levine look at the shifting demands of media studies in the convergence age in Legitimating Television (Routledge, 2011). Focusing primarily on its effects on television, Newman and Levine offer a critical view at the current state of television studies. Melanie E. S. Kohnen's review offers a critical summary of this important contribution to television and media studies.

4. Coming up

[4.1] The next two issues of TWC, Nos. 12 and 13, will appear in spring 2013 as guest-edited special issues: Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma coedit the special issue on Transnational Boys' Love, and Matthew Costello's special issue focuses on transformation and comics.

[4.2] TWC No. 14 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. 14 is March 15, 2013.

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. 11 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Alexandra Jenkins (Symposium); and Louisa Stein (Review).

[5.3] The following people worked on TWC No. 11 in a production capacity: Rrain Prior (production editor); Beth Friedman, Shoshanna Green, and Mara Greengrass (copyeditors); Wendy M. Carr, Kristen Murphy, and sunusn (layout); and Kallista Angeloff, Amanda Georgeanne Retartha, 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 additional peer reviewers and Symposium reviewers who provided service for TWC No. 11: Rebecca Black, Alexandria Brennan, Rebecca Bryant, Sharon Goetz, Sara Howe, Melanie Kohnen, Anne Kustritz, Edward Wilson Lee, Alexis Lothian, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Amanda Odom, Juli Parrish, Mafalda Stasi, Michael Strangelove, Ika Willis, and Liz Woledge.

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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.