Fan engagement

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract—Editorial for Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 22 (September 15, 2016).

[0.2] Keyword—Fan studies

TWC Editor. 2016. "Fan Engagement" [editorial]. Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 22. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2016.1056.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Living in the United States—or most other places—at the moment, it is nearly impossible to avoid the constant media coverage of the American presidential election. Whereas politics and the harsh realities of world events seem to stand in opposition to fandom and its often fictional escapist tendencies, the all-pervasiveness of both creates intersections. Between the media spectacle of the conventions and the fannish investment in favorite candidates, it's often difficult to tell from the style and rhetoric alone if we are reading a political commentary or a fannish shipping site. TWC's first issue, which appeared in 2008, likewise preceded a US election that followed a highly contested primary season. In "Participatory Democracy and Hillary Clinton's Marginalized Fandom" (http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2008.0047), Abigail De Kosnik uses fan studies to explain the excess emotional responses: "Framing the Clinton-Obama rivalry as a war between two fan bases, with Obama's followers constituting a dominant fandom and Clinton's constituting a marginalized fandom, allows us to interpret the deep emotional response of the Clinton backers" (¶1.2).

2. Theory and Praxis

[2.1] Over 20 issues—and two elections—later, this unusual frame remains appealing to begin to address both the intense emotional investment in and antipathy toward the central candidates. In fact, this issue opens the Praxis section with an essay that returns to Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic candidate: looking at a (fannish and political) viral mash-up video that features the presidential hopeful, Amber Davisson analyzes how mainstream media and transformative works compete in their creation of public memory. Moreover, "Mashing Up, Remixing, and Contesting the Popular Memory of Hillary Clinton" also speaks to the contested site of fan-created responses, both subverting dominant narratives and being co-opted by them. This simultaneous resistance and commercialization is also at the center of Jessica Leonora Whitehead's "Local Newspaper Movie Contests and the Creation of the First Movie Fans." Looking at early 20th-century local newspaper movie contests, she studies how commercial paratexts interpellated female movie fans as it encouraged and rewarded their fan engagements. Rather than using fan studies methods to look at history, Jan Švelch and Tereza Krobová use the historical approach of Alltagsgeschichte to look at fan art in "Historicizing Video Game Series through Fan Art." Drawing from the banal everyday, they strive to create a model for a complex fannish history characterized by a multitude of subjective layers.

[2.2] Politics may be the most unusual place to look for fan engagements, but this issue illustrates that even within traditional fannish activities, there exists an enormous range that is worthy of close study, including Jeremy Groskopf's "Hoarding and Community in Star Wars Card Trader," Sara Mariel Austin's "Valuing Queer Identity in Monster High Doll Fandom," Josef Nguyen's "Performing as Video Game Players in Let's Plays," and Carissa Ann Baker's "Creative Choices and Fan Practices in the Transformation of Theme Park Space." What all the essays share is a focus on identity and community among the fans. Whether it is the hoarding of digital trading cards or the performative aspects of Let's Play videos, whether it's the individuation and personalization of Monster High dolls or the interactive aspects of theme parks, fans use, alter, and reshape commercial ideas and products to reflect their own needs and desires, creating and participating in community spaces that use and resist the official media properties.

[2.3] One of the central themes in fan studies has been the role of gender and sexual identity. Where earlier work used a more singular model of minority resistance, the essays in this issue complicate and expand these notions of identity and community. April S. Callis's "Homophobia, Heteronormativity, and Slash Fan Fiction" presents an expansive case study of Kirk/Spock fan fiction and argues that there are clear changes over the last few decades in attitudes toward gender and sexuality. In "Toward a Broader Recognition of the Queer in the BBC'S Sherlock," Amandelin A. Valentine moves beyond the seemingly default slash ship of Sherlock and Watson to look at other ways the show suggests and invites queered characterizations. Finally, a broader look at gender and sexuality also means moving beyond the empowerment of minority positions and representations to study how fandoms can complexify all genders and sexualities. Accordingly, Samantha Close's "Fannish Masculinities in Transition in Anime Music Video Fandom" and Theo A. Peck-Suzuk's "iCuteness, Friendship, and Identity in the Brony Community" both focus on the destabilizing of masculinities in fannish engagements.

[2.4] Rounding out this issue are three further essays. In her study of ethics in online fan studies research, Brittany Kelley's "Toward a Goodwill Ethics of Online Research Methods" weighs earlier approaches against the author's own experiences and encourages an ethics that balances fan and research demands. Victoria Gonzalez's "Swan Queen, Shipping, and Boundary Regulation in Fandom" anticipates TWC's Queer Female Fandom special issue, forthcoming in 2017, in her close analysis of Once Upon a Time (2011–) Swan Queen fandom and the internal boundary policing between different fan communities. Finally, Elizabeth Gilliland's "Racebending Fandoms and Digital Futurism" offers an important intervention into the discussion of race in fandom by studying Tumblr movements of racebending and its political and social impact. By celebrating fans who diversify homogeneous whitecast entertainment offerings by creating and sharing their own fan works, she illustrates how fandom has always had the potential to be a political force.

3. Symposium and Review

[3.1] Symposium features three diverse essays in this issue. Paul Thomas interrogates the motivations of Wikipedia fan editors in "Wikipedia and Participatory Culture: Why Fans Edit," suggesting that the reputative power of Wikipedia validates fan editors in ways that many other forms of fan works cannot. "The Creative Empowerment of Body Positivity in the Cosplay Community" discusses Jordan Kass Lome's survey of cosplayers and their relationship to identity, their bodies, and the surrounding communities. Finally, Claudia Rebaza offers a close reading of the BBC Christmas Sherlock episode, "The Victorian Bride" (2015), in "The Selling of a Story: Sherlock's Victorian Excursion." By exploring the metatextual aspects of the episode, Rebaza connects these to both the show in general and its place in popular culture.

[3.2] Fan studies books and collections continue to proliferate, and this issues showcases this increasing expansion with the review of four recent publications: Helena Louise Dare-Edwards reviews Millennial Fandom: Television Audiences in the Transmedia Age, by Louisa Ellen Stein; Gregory Steirer discusses Playing Fans: Negotiating Fandom in the Digital Age, by Paul Booth; Bambi Haggins comments on The Cultural Politics of Colorblind TV Casting, by Kristen Warner; and Abigail De Kosnik looks at Playing Harry Potter: Essays and Interviews on Fandom and Performance, edited by Lisa S. Brenner.

4. Conclusion

[4.1] The next two issues of TWC, Nos. 23 and 24, will appear in spring 2017 as guest-edited special issues: Roberta Pearson and Betsy Rosenblatt coedit a special issue on Sherlock Holmes Fandom, Sherlockiana, and the Great Game, and Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng's special issue focuses on Queer Female Fandom.

[4.2] TWC No. 25 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. 25 is January 1, 2017.

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. 22 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Cameron Salisbury and Francesca Coppa (Symposium); and Louisa Stein and Katie Morrissey (Review).

[5.3] The following people worked on TWC No. 22 in a production capacity: Rrain Prior (production editor); Beth Friedman, Shoshanna Green, and Christine Mains (copyeditors); Claire Baker, Sarah New, Rebecca Sentance, and Gabriel Simm (layout); and Carmen Montopoli, Samanda Retharta, Latina Vidolova, and Vickie West (proofreaders).

[5.4] TWC thanks the board of the Organization for Transformative Works. 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 who provided service for TWC No. 22: Thomas Baudinette, Rafael Biena, Samantha Close, Lauren Collister, Vera Cuntz-Leng, Helena Dare-Edwards, Ruth Deller, Melissa Getreu, Anne Gilbert, Leora Hadas, Sarah Hardy, Kathryn Hemmann, Melanie Kohnen, Allison McCracken, Rukmini Pande, Ian Peters, Venetia Robertson, Barbara Ryan, Christine Scherer, Olli Sotamaa, Natasha Whiteman, and Hanna Wirman.