Dispatches from transition

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract— Editorial for TWC No. 38 (September 15, 2022).

[0.2] Keywords— Affirmational fandom; Fan studies; Media industries; Non-Western fandom; Race; Transformational fandom

TWC Editor. 2022. "Dispatches from Transition" [editorial]. Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 38. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2022.2149.

1. Dispatches from transition

[1.1] Here it is: our first issue as editors. After a year of learning the processes and the quirks of the OJS system (did you know authors can't withdraw articles on their own, for no apparent reason?), this issue, which melds together the work of the old and new editors, is now out in the world. There's a lot of great stuff in it, and we're excited for you to read it.

[1.2] It is a strange feeling to be taking over after another pair of editors has been guiding Transformative Works and Cultures for fifteen years. This is in part because Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson are a hard act to follow. This field owes so much to their tireless work (along with the work of many other volunteers) to make this journal happen all these years, and we're glad that they will still be around as editors emerita to share their years of experience with us, Poe Johnson and Mel Stanfill, the incoming editors.

[1.3] As we take the wheel, we want to both continue the important work that has already been done and make a concerted effort to recruit and support new kinds of research as the journal settles into maturity after thirty-seven issues strengthening and expanding the field.

[1.4] First, we want to continue the important work of expanding and diversifying the field, both in objects and approaches. The field in general, and TWC in particular, has done some of the foundational work of this expansion, and now it is time to press forward. For example, we are particularly interested in research that looks specifically at nonwhite and non-Western fandoms from contemporary and historic perspectives without necessarily recentering whiteness. In this issue, Becky Pham's work on K-pop fans in Vietnam, Carissa Baker's look at Chinese roller coaster fandom, and Ting Huang's examination of fannish literacy practices in a Chinese context take up this challenge. We also want to grow the field in terms of research that investigates the gender and sexuality diversity in fandom rather than assuming it. Emily Coccia's look at the erotic imaginary in femslash and Dean Leetal's consideration of nonbinary identities in fan fiction help us move toward this goal. There is plenty more of this kind of work coming soon, as the 2023 special issues on Chinese Fandoms and on Trans Fandom exemplify these directions in research, and so does the current CFP for Centering Blackness in Fan Studies.

[1.5] Similarly, we seek to feature work that further complicates the already nuanced transformative/affirmative binary, paying greater attention to how a particular fan, practice, or work might occupy both sides of the binary at once or shift across the spectrum over time. In this issue, Margaret Rossman's examination of the fan-industry interface in the case of Taylor Swift's deluxe album releases, Michael D. High's look at anime fans as cultural mediaries, and the special section on conventions in Covid-19 times all explore this space. The work that has been done so far on transformative fan works like fan fiction, fan vids, and fan art has been significant, and it provides an essential foundation for the kind of research on other kinds of fan practices and products that we think is the next step. Jessica Hautsch's exploration of how pic sets can be sites of embodied meaning making and the different approaches to embodiment taken by Neta Yodovich's work on smell and Jamie Uy's on theme park food are important new steps in this direction. Work on fandom's intersections with media industries and technologies is also essential, exemplified by the current CFP for Fandoms and Platforms.

[1.6] Last but not least, we are committed to tempering the tendency of the field to be overly celebratory, pushing authors toward careful examination of when, how, and for whom fandom is great.

[1.7] We also envision our role as editors as building the field. In the coming year, we plan to expand the editorial structure to take on one or more associate editors who are senior PhD students or early career scholars. This position will both give those early career scholars a boost in the field and train them in the operation of the journal so that there will be a leadership pipeline following us. We will particularly prioritize scholars of color in this work as part of counterbalancing the historical whiteness of the field.

[1.8] Overall, we believe, as many do, that fan studies is on the cusp of an important new evolution to reinforce its strengths and move into new areas. In general, a multitude of scholars is currently operating on the periphery of what we tend to consider fandom, and their expertise, sources of investigation, and methods could broaden our understanding of fan works, behaviors, and cultural utterances. We want to invite them in. We want TWC to be at the forefront of this change, and we're dedicated to helping it get there.

2. Theory

[2.1] This issue contains a bumper crop of new and exciting research. The two articles in this issue's Theory section each make significant headway toward the dismantling of orthodoxies within fan fiction communities (and fan studies ones as well) that have been typically resistant to examining the complex matrices of meaning, power, and behavior evident within fan communities and the fannish works that occupy an embodied actor/character battery.

[2.2] The section's first offering, "Femslash Fan Fiction's Expansive Erotic Imaginary," by Emily Coccia, complicates notions of the queer erotic domain within fan fiction by engaging in close readings of stories that purposefully imbue both everyday objects and phenomenological ones with sexual promise. Coccia locates spaces where femslash fan fiction writers within the fandoms for Supergirl (2015), The Devil Wears Prada (2011), and Once Upon a Time (2011–18) have articulated a queer sexuality that manifests outside of the domains of genital expression. Perhaps most significantly, Coccia does not shy away from calling attention to the the quotidian white supremacist ideology within those texts and the fannish works produced in response. In doing so, Coccia offers a potential road map toward a fan studies investigation of fan fiction that does not simply name the centralizing of whiteness and its ideologies but avoids it altogether.

[2.3] In "Pic Sets, Fan Cognition, and Fannish Networks of Meaning," Jessica Hautsch explores the roles that broader cultural knowledges and iconographies occupy within acts of embodied meaning making in Game of Thrones Jonsa (Jon Snow/Sansa Stark) GIF sets. For Hautsch, embodiment is more than just a conceptual code through which to discuss matters of affect but is also something of a biological regulatory boundary that, at least in part, governs fannish meaning making before and after transformative creation. In focusing on the embodied experience of the fan, Hautsch also investigates the conflation that fans routinely make in pic sets between a fictional character within their fandom, other characters that actor portrays in different works, and the actor's public performance itself.

3. Article

[3.1] The next section represents a new format, the Article, which we have introduced to replace the structures of Theory and Praxis going forward. In "'What Did They Smell Like?': Fans Creating Intimacy through Smell and Odor," Neta Yodovich takes a novel angle on how fans relate to celebrities, expanding our understanding of the fan-celebrity relationship beyond the usually emphasized senses of sight and sound to consider smell. Much like Hautsch's rethinking of embodiment and Uy's focus on food in theme parks elsewhere in this issue, Yodovich shifts how we think about the body in fandom. By examining how smell can increase perceived intimacy with a star but also be a heavily policed site of morality, the article both examines questions that have been important in fan studies and breaks new ground.

[3.2] Becky Pham's "Public Reception of Young K-pop Fans in Vietnam, 2011–19," similarly takes a hot topic, K-pop fandom, and moves it in a new direction by explicitly de-Westernizing fan studies by focusing on Korean cultural exports in a Vietnamese context. Much like the questions of shame in Yodovich, Pham examines notions of inappropriate fandom, considering how they are tied into questions of nation and identity. The article also, like Baker's and Huang's, focuses on an East Asia fandom context that is still understudied in English-language fan studies.

4. Praxis

[4.1] The Praxis section contains four exciting pieces. Margaret Rossman's "Taylor Swift, Remediating the Self, and Nostalgic Girlhood in Tween Music Fandom" examines Swift's deluxe album releases as paratexts that enable intimacy with fans. Rossman finds that Swift uses microcelebrity-type tactics to produce a sense of immediacy through releasing her youthful journals, which fans take up as part of their connection to her. In its consideration of star-fan intimacy, the essay echoes Yodovich's work on smell, and with its examination of fan-industry relations, it connects to High's and Twarog's essays. In "Green Milk: The Environmental Eatymologies of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge," Jamie Uy discusses Star Wars theme park food as a transmedia fan practice. By expanding the senses involved in fandom to include taste, Uy pushes the boundaries of how fan studies considers embodiment, much like Yodovich. Uy also considers less well-understood kinds of fan engagement, much like Rossman and Pham.

[4.2] Michael D. High's "Cultural Mediaries on AniTube: Between Fans and Social Media Entertainers" considers fans who work to promote anime and manga. High raises important questions about the tensions between doing this work as a noncommercial fan practice and as creators in their own right. The slipperiness between fandom and industry that High describes echoes the tensions described by Rossman. Finally, Dean Leetal's "Revisiting Gender Theory in Fan Fiction: Bringing Nonbinary Genders into the World" examines how nonbinary gender is a theme in fan spaces.

5. Symposium

[5.1] This issue features a special Symposium section, The Year Without a Comic-Con, examining the pandemic's impact on the business, cultural, and artistic aspect of entertainment conventions, specifically San Diego Comic-Con. Benjamin Woo, Emma Francis, and Kalervo Sinervo, in "Framing the Covid-19 Pandemic's Impacts on Fan Conventions," examine how fannish and nonfannish media covered the rise of Covid-19 and the swath of convention cancellations that it wrought. Erin Hanna's "The Limits of Comic-Con's Exclusivity" builds on her previous work by looking at how exclusivity has been fundamental to the construction of San Diego Comic-Con as a space for Hollywood insiders and how the pandemic has, has not, and might force a reevaluation of that identity. Finally, Melanie E. S. Kohnen's "The Experience Economy during Covid-19: Virtual Activations at Comic-Con@Home" looks at the industrial and fan responses to the differing promotional changes made by television and film studies during San Diego Comic-Con's shift to a virtual model in 2020 and 2021.

[5.2] The main Symposium section has four fascinating essays this time around. In "Roller Coaster Dream: A Chinese Roller Coaster Enthusiast Community," Carissa Baker examines the material fandom of roller coasters in a Chinese context. Baker's combination of non-Western fandom and embodiment both takes fan studies in new directions and echoes the work of Yodovich, Pham, and Huang. "Working with Fannish Intermediaries," by Maria Alberto and Billy Tringali, considers semiprofessionalized fan intermediaries between fandoms and industry. Much like High's and Twarog's work, Alberto and Tringali complicate our understanding of roles by exploring the liminal position between fan and producer while also addressing the same convention spaces as Woo's, Hanna's, and Kohnen's work in the special section.

[5.3] Anthony Twarog's "Creative versus Technical Work in Virtual Series" examines how fans of Firefly (Fox, 2002) reconstructed and reified practices within media industries when they created a virtual series. Like High and Alberto and Tringali, Twarog disrupts the binary between industry and fan. In "BuBu Fandom and Authentic Online Spaces for Chinese Fangirls," Ting Huang examines the intersection of fandom and pedagogy around literacy practices in a Chinese context. The piece has continuity with previous work on literary development of fans and also takes a new direction to examine non-Western fandoms, much like Baker and Pham do.

6. Book reviews

[6.1] And finally, the four book reviews in this issue survey a sampling of the needed shifts occurring within fan studies publications. Ye Li looks at Fandom, Now in Color, edited by Rukmini Pande. Amanda Lynn Lawson Cullen reviews Amanda C. Cote's Gaming Sexism: Gender and Identity in the Era of Casual Video Games. Lauren Watson follows with an exploration of E. Charlotte Stevens's Fan Vids: Television, Women, and Home Media Re-use. Lastly, Laurel P. Rogers weighs in on Anastasia Salter and Mel Stanfill's A Portrait of the Auteur as Fanboy: The Construction of Authorship in Transmedia Franchises.

7. Acknowledgments

[7.1] The following people worked on TWC No. 38 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse, Karen Hellekson, Poe Johnson, and Mel Stanfill (editors); Hanna Hacker and Bridget Kies (Symposium); and Katie Morrissey and Louisa Ellen Stein (Review).

[7.2] The following people worked on TWC No. 38 in a production capacity: Christine Mains (production editor); Jennifer Duggan, Beth Friedman, Jillian Kovich, Christine Mains, A. Smith, and Vickie West (copyeditors); Claire Baker, Christine Mains, Sarah New, Rebecca Sentance, and Latina Vidolova (layout); and Claire Baker, Rachel P. Kreiter, Christine Mains, Cheng Shon, and Latina Vidolova (proofreaders).

[7.3] 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.

[7.4] 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. 38: Dominic Ashby, Carissa Baker, Lucy Irene Baker, Thomas Baudinette, Stephanie Betz, Kelsey Cameron, Simone Driessen, Kelsey Morgan Entrikin, Jessica Hautsch, Michael High, Ha Hoang, Kyra Osten Hunting, Samantha Marchiony, Jake Pitre, Tony Smith, Louisa Ellen Stein, and Lindsey Stirek.