Spreadable fandom

TWC Editor

[0.1] Abstract—This issue indicates our expansion to include ever-wider arenas in which fans engage even as we remain focused on the communities and activities that gave rise to this discipline and to this journal in the first place.

[0.2] Keywords—Analysis; Authorship; Fan fiction

TWC Editor. 2013. "Spreadable Fandom." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 14. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2013.0550.

1. Introduction

[1.1] One of the most important publications for fan studies this year is Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green's Spreadable Media, even though—or maybe because—it mostly sidesteps media fandom in favor of using a variety of examples of commercial and industry-driven transmedia campaigns. Yet the book owes a lot to Jenkins's earlier work on traditional media fandoms, and these fandoms certainly lurk in the interstices of the arguments about user-generated content, transmedia authorships, and spreadable media. This general issue of TWC, No. 14, indicates our own expansion to include ever-wider arenas in which fans engage even as we remain focused on the communities and activities that gave rise to this discipline and to this journal in the first place.

[1.2] Accordingly, we include in this issue Melissa Click's review of Spreadable Media, joined by reviews of two books that show the range of media studies and TWC: Josh Johnson's review of Reclaiming Fair Use, by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, and Amanda Retartha's review of Anne Morey's important Twilight collection Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the Twilight Series. Fandom studies thus proves to be both interdisciplinary (legal, literary, and media studies) and methodologically diverse (broad theoretical musings, specific case studies, and quantitative accounts). Fans and fandoms are multiple, as are the approaches to studying them; TWC continues to broaden its outlook, its authors, and its themes to do reflect to these various changes as the discipline of fan studies evolves.

2. Theory and Praxis

[2.1] The Theory and Praxis essays in this issue range broadly, geographically, culturally, and thematically. The two essays that comprise the Theory section illustrate some of that range. Juli J. Parrish's "Metaphors We Read By: People, Process, and Fan Fiction" studies the terms fan scholars have used to discuss the process of fan fiction. Different metaphors, she argues, evoke vastly different conceptual processes that affect legal, literary, and social arguments. Resurrecting Constance Penley's metaphor of Brownian motion, Parrish advocates a view of fan fiction fandom as a chaotic space of creativity. Simon Lindgren likewise looks for useful models to describe fan communities in "Sub*culture: Exploring the Dynamics of a Networked Public." Lindgren reads online subbing communities as virtual public spaces as he studies the linguistic and social exchange dominating these communities. He analyzes their similarities and interactions by situating this particular networked public within the larger community of Internet culture.

[2.2] In the first two Praxis essays, Craig Norris and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto look at international media reception and fan tourism. For Norris, the element of the international fan pilgrimage is central to his argument in "A Japanese Media Pilgrimage to a Tasmanian Bakery." However, Craig's study suggests the pilgrimage is much more than a visit and celebration of a bakery that may have inspired a popular anime series. He also shows how all experiences surrounding fan travels become meaningful and are reconstituted as important fan experiences and expressions. Likewise, Morimoto observes the reception of Hong Kong film among Japanese female fans in "Trans-cult-ural Fandom: Desire, Technology, and the Transformation of Fan Subjectivities in the Japanese Female Fandom of Hong Kong Stars." She focuses on transcultural affect in her analysis of fan letters and zines to paint a historical picture of this moment in the history of Japanese fans, cult fandom, and Hong Kong film stars that is revealing of emotional intensity and star construction as well as material cultures and infrastructures.

[2.3] The final two Praxis pieces focus on individual fandoms and their surrounding communities, one older and the other more recent, but both groundbreaking. Emily Regan Wills looks at The X-Files and the way fans negotiate issues of gender both in readings of the show and in their own fan works. "Fannish Discourse Communities and the Construction of Gender in The X-Files" suggests that political—and other—topics are discussed and debated fruitfully within the multiple discourse communities of a given fandom. Kevin Veale's "Capital, Dialogue, and Community Engagement: My Little Pony—Friendship Is Magic Understood as an Alternate Reality Game" looks at the unusual fandom of My Little Pony, which has been singled out in popular media as a result of its unusual demographic of young adult boys for a show targeted to preteen girls. Veale's focus, however, is less on the unusual demographics than it is on the way the vocal fan community and its interaction with show runners constitute an example of how the structures of the show create a viewer's (and fan's) affective experience. Comparing it to alternate reality games, Veale concludes, allows the show's affective dimensions to be analyzed even as it becomes clear that the show is not exceptional in facilitating such strong emotional viewer engagements and interactions.

3. Symposium

[3.1] The Symposium section also covers a range of diverse topics and methodologies: antifandom, fannish roots in ancient texts, and the role of politics in fan communities. The first two essays both describe personal investments in texts. Whitney Philips describes her enjoyment of and investment in Troll 2, focusing on what has been called antifandom yet looking at the particular aesthetic at play in this film, so terrible that it may actually be good. In contrast, Shannon K. Farley, focusing on original-language classical Homeric texts, looks over her personal scholarly history to establish the connection between fan fiction and translation studies, and to demonstrate her own academic investment in bringing the two together.

[3.2] The remaining two Symposium essays focus less on texts and personal investment and more on the overall role of community discourses within online media fandoms, especially in the wake of the recent Kindle Worlds announcement inviting fans to contribute to an online shared-world textual marketplace. Mel Stanfill uses this new model to address questions of artistic and communal ownership. By focusing on the way fandom spaces function as publics and counterpublics simultaneously, Stanfill suggests that such complex sociopolitical negotiations are erased when fan texts are commercialized. Katherine E. Morrissey likewise begins with Kindle's attempt to commercialize fan fiction, though her essay ultimately challenges the very model of expansive fan studies with which we began this introduction. She suggests that there may be real dangers—for fans and for the discipline of fan studies—in expanding the field without being aware of the different dynamics and remaining wary of them. As Morrissey concludes, "Only by exploring fandom holistically, looking at its communities, its practices, and its individuals, can fan studies continue to map out the role of fans and fandom in the shared production of contemporary culture and society" (¶3.9).

4. Coming up

[4.1] The next two issues of TWC, Nos. 15 and 16, will appear in spring 2014 as guest-edited special issues: Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis coedit a special issue on fan labor, and Bob Rehak's special issue focuses on material fandom.

[4.2] TWC No. 17 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. 17 is March 15, 2014.

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. 14 in an editorial capacity: Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Cameron Salisbury (Symposium); and Louisa Stein (Review).

[5.3] The following people worked on TWC No. 14 in a production capacity: Rrain Prior (production editor); Beth Friedman, Shoshanna Green, and Christine Mains (copyeditors); Rrain Prior (layout editor); and Amanda Georgeanne Retartha and Carmen Montopoli (proofreaders).

[5.4] TWC thanks the journal project's Organization for Transformative Works board liaison, Andrea Horbinski. 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. 14: Darren Ashmore, Stephanie Betz, Bertha Chin, Alexandra Edwards, Darlene Hampton, Leon Hunt, Kyra Hunting, Mikhail Koulikov, Cheuk Yi Li, Luis Perez-Gonzalez, Stijn Reijnders, and Amanda Retartha.