In defense of revision

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract—Editorial for Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30 (September 15, 2019).

[0.2] Keyword—Fan studies

TWC Editor. 2019. "In Defense of Revision." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1855.

1. TWC's ethos

[1.1] There's an art to writing editorials. The most important part, of course, is the summary of the issue's articles, preferably highlighting their interconnections and showcasing central themes, which serve to hold the essays together and provide a collected issue with identity and meaning. Our special issues are arranged around specific themes, and their introductions tend to offer the general impetus that drew the editors to their theme, a brief discourse on the importance of the topic, and often a bibliographic context in which are situated the issue and its articles. None of this is true, however, for the general issues that TWC publishes every September. Yet the essays deserve to be presented in the purview of the journal and in relation to one another, however accidental this relationship may be.

[1.2] For TWC's general issues, we have discussed the difficulties of creating a journal from scratch; the rationale behind offering TWC as Open Access with a Creative Commons License and using an Open Sources publishing platform; the amazing number of submissions we've received and essays we've published; the impressive breadth of topics, disciplines, and methodologies our authors have deployed; and the overall ethics involved in publishing fan studies research. Yet when we talk to authors and reviewers, we repeatedly find ourselves explaining our rationale surrounding the double-blind peer review and revision processes.

[1.3] These questions often arise in one of two contexts. First, we might ask a new peer reviewer to review an essay, explaining the various evaluation options; and second, authors who have published with us ask about our acceptance rates. Academia by and large functions within an economy of scarcity and competition: if there is one job and 250 candidates, only the best can get the job; if a journal publishes six essays per issue twice a year, only the best twelve will be selected. Of course, this is not solely a function of postsecondary education. Elementary reading competitions crown their winners, transforming the passion of books into a quantifiable race; grading on a curve throughout K–12 teaches students that helping a peer do better may harm their own class standing and grade; and in college, one of the important metrics a school provides—right up there with student SAT and GPA averages—is the acceptance rate, with lower clearly being better.

[1.4] In contrast, TWC has a really high acceptance rate—or, put differently, we do not have many essays that make it through the review process and are not eventually published. But we are proud of this fact! TWC is an online-only journal, so we don't have physical restrictions like pages. We can publish as many, or as few, essays as we like. Any space limitation would be an artificial one. Further, we don't hold a backlog: each essay is published as soon after acceptance as possible. As a result, we do not encourage reviewers to reject essays to reduce the overall pool of submissions. If the essay shows promise, we suggest that the author revise and resubmit rather than rejecting the essay outright. As a result of this editorial philosophy, TWC No. 30 offers twelve full-length essays (plus five Symposium essays and two book reviews), with time from submission to publication ranging from six to twenty months.

[1.5] Our ability to publish as many essays as we want, without limiting a given issue's size and without holding a backlog, is only part of our reasoning, however. More important is our guiding ethos: we want to encourage young scholars; we want to guide them through the publication process, and we do our best to make sure this is a positive experience. We could not do this without our generous reviewers, who dedicate their valuable time to offer vigorous criticism that endeavors to strengthen the argument of each and every essay. Many reviewers are willing to read an essay repeatedly through various revision stages, and as editors, we encourage that process as long as the revisions continue to show improvement. This is a labor-intensive process for everyone, but we find it well worth our time. In turn, we hope that authors who have published with us and who have profited from an immensely helpful peer review process will in turn help others.

[1.6] Finding good reviewers is thus the second most important job of being an editor—right after soliciting good authors. The essays in this issue have challenged us as much as any issue has: they theorize nonhuman animals and their fannish engagements; autoethnographically study a career assessing the psychology of fans; address musicology in fan vids and pedagogy in combating sports rivalry; discuss disparate texts that analyze eighteenth-century prophecy, 1920s film fans, and 1970s soap opera fans; read an individual femslash story; and study an entire Chinese online community. The essays in this issue range widely, usefully stretching the concept of fan, fandom, and fan studies. Each essay has been vetted and reworked, often through multiple rounds of peer and/or editorial review. The results demonstrate that the hard work of authors, peer reviewers, and production personnel synergistically work to create high-quality scholarship.

2. Theory

[2.1] C. Lee Harrington opens the Theory section with a provocative look at "Animal Fans: Toward a Multispecies Fan Studies." Drawing from various disciplinary approaches to nonhuman animal rights, Harrington posits an unusual question that connects nonhuman fan behavior with ethical questions of personhood to suggest that viewing animals as affirmative fans may challenge fan studies' assumptions in interesting ways. In contrast, Hannah E. Dahlberg-Dodd focuses on the role of authorship in "The Author in the Postinternet Age" to argue that the author is not ultimately dead but remains a ghost in the archive.

[2.2] Sebastian F. K. Svegaard opens up an important new line of inquiry for vidding research by focusing on its musical aspects in "Toward an Integration of Musicological Methods into Fan Video Studies." Looking at the existing scholarship, which tends to look at the music as serving the narrative or atmosphere of the vid, he proposes to instead foreground the role that music plays for textual vid analysis. Erica Lyn Massey's "Borderland Literature, Female Pleasure, and the Slash Fic Phenomenon" likewise opens up a familiar research topic by introducing a different approach: adopting the notion of a borderlands, most often connected to subaltern literature, and linking it to slash. Massey reinvestigates the various functions of critique and empowerment that slash performs for its readers and writers.

[2.3] An exciting expansion of fan studies is its intersection with historical research, and two essays perform large-scale studies that focus on fan engagement and transformative works in specific historical contexts. Andrew Crome's "Considering Eighteenth-Century Prophecy as Transformative Work" looks at eighteenth-century prophetic writings and the role that self-insertion plays in these works. Although Crome draws on fan studies approaches for his study, he nevertheless argues against a simple ahistorical flattening of transformative works. Leah Steuer looks at predigital fan engagement in "Structural Affects of Soap Opera Fan Correspondence, 1970s–80s." By focusing on the materiality of fan letters in particular, Steuer studies the immersion of fan culture into everyday lives and investigates the creator/fan relationship before the advent of the internet.

3. Praxis

[3.1] The Praxis essays continue the variety of themes and methods. Gayle S. Stever describes the author's thirty-year academic career studying fans in her autoethnographic "Fan Studies in Psychology: A Road Less Traveled." Interestingly, the intense personal focus contrasts with the lack of acafan identity and ethnographic immersion currently used in current fan studies research. Jessica Ethel Tompkins discusses the various motivations and implications of crossplay in "Is Gender Just a Costume? An Exploratory Study of Crossplay." Among her respondents, cross-gender cosplay seems to be a function of the characters' genders rather than a means of performing gender identity. At the same time, however, the performativity inherent in cosplay provides insight into gender as a performative identity in general.

[3.2] One of the central concerns of fan studies is the hierarchical relationship between fans and producers, but over the years, this never wholly distinct dichotomy has continued to merge into a continuum of popularity, fame, and influence. Olympia Kiriakou looks at one form of fan hierarchies in her study of lifestyle influencers in Disney fandom. In "Big Name Fandom and the (Inevitable) Failure of Disflix," she addresses the various ways these fans have shaped Disney fandom and how the community has in turn shaped their fannish experiences and engagements. Xianwei Wu's "Hierarchy within Female ACG Fandom in China" offers an important insight into Chinese female-oriented anime, comics, and gaming fandom by presenting findings on a specific fan community and its complicated internal hierarchical structure.

[3.3] The Praxis category offers a place to publish case studies and specific focused readings. A case study or a close reading of a novel can often gesture to larger theoretical concerns. However, it is important to also value such analyses in their own right, whether they address a canonical Middle English romance or a contemporary fan story. Angela L. Florschuetz uses the rubric of the discipline of fan studies to discuss "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Canonicity, and Audience Participation." By arguing that the text intertextually engages the Arthurian canon, she describes an early case of active audience and "the struggle over figurative ownership of genres, texts, and characters" (¶ 1). In contrast, Alice Margaret Kelly offers a close reading of a recent text in "Fan Fiction as Feminist Citation: Lesbian (Para)textuality in chainofclovers's 'Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart' (2017)." Kelly suggests that the fan writer uses citations of poetry to supplement her representation of queer characters and relationships in order to write a "narrative of female desire that is not defined by men" (¶ 0.1).

4. Symposium

[4.1] Symposium essays allow whimsical contributions or a focus on a particular fannish issue. They also afford us the opportunity to view snapshots of current and continuing research, as in Xiqing Zheng's "Survival and Migration Patterns of Chinese Online Media Fandoms." Zheng offers an account of Chinese online media fandoms in the face of increasing government censorship, addressing concerns facing researchers when dealing with this material. In "Gendered Fairy Tale Heroics: Ginny Weasley in The Source," Effie Sapuridis offers a close reading of one particular Harry Potter novel to discuss the feminist potential of fan fiction focused on a minor female character. Finally, Cody T. Havard's "Introducing Sport Rivalry Man, Protector of Positive Fan Behavior" describes how a comic strip he created acts as a pedagogical tool to teach students about engagement with a sports rivalry team.

[4.2] The final two Symposium essays use the recent conclusion of the major Marvel Cinematic Universe arc to discuss audience responses as well as academic parallels. Martyna Szczepaniak's "Death in Marvel" surveys fan reactions to the extreme death toll in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). The essay addresses the relationship between emotional responses to the individual film and the audience's awareness of the larger MCU franchise. Likewise, Cody T. Havard, Rhema D. Fuller, Timothy D. Ryan, and Frederick G. Grieve use the entirety of the Marvel franchise in their "Using the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Build a Defined Research Line," which draws analogies between the different MCU texts to suggest analogies that represent different research approaches within fan studies and beyond.

5. Book reviews

[5.1] The two books reviewed in this issue gesture toward a new level of fan studies that can take for granted and build on more introductory and general assumptions. Abby Waysdorf reviews Framing Fan Fiction: Literary and Social Practices in Fan Fiction Communities by Kristina Busse, which focuses exclusively on fan fiction and the communities surrounding it. Whereas Busse relies on a fairly narrow definition of fandom, Dorothy Wai Sim Lau's Chinese Stardom in Participatory Cyberculture, reviewed by Wikanda Promkhuntong, offers a markedly different perspective regarding fan objects and fan engagement. Both books showcase the wide range of subjects and the multivocal disciplinary approaches that fan studies uses while gesturing toward the many connections that remain to be made.

6. Acknowledgments

[6.1] The following people worked on TWC No. 30 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Francesca Coppa, Amy Finn, Katie Gillespie, and Lori Morimoto (Symposium); and Louisa Ellen Stein and Katie Morrissey (Review).

[6.2] The following people worked on TWC No. 30 in a production capacity: Christine Mains and Rrain Prior (production editors); Jennifer Duggan, Beth Friedman, Christine Mains, and Vickie West (copyeditors); Claire Baker, Christine Mains, Sarah New, Rrain Prior, and Rebecca Sentance (layout); and Claire Baker, Karalyn Dokurno, Rachel P. Kreiter, and Latina Vidolova (proofreaders).

[6.3] 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.

[6.4] TWC thanks all its board members, whose names appear on TWC's masthead, as well as the following peer reviewers who provided their services for TWC No. 30: Carissa Baker, Balaka Basu, Athena Bellas, Samantha Close, Miyoko Conley, Richard Galbraith, Daniel Golding, John Halbrooks, Thessa Jensen, Bridget Kies, Nicolle Lamerichs, Allison McCracken, Nele Noppe, Craig Norris, Jacqueline Pinkowitz, Robin Rosenberg, Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa, Meredith Snyder, Jessica Tompkins, Anna Wilson, Xiqing Zheng, and Tanya Zuk.