Framing alterity: Reclaiming fandom’s marginality


  • Paul J. Booth DePaul University



Alien entertainment, Doctor Who, Fan shopping, Historicity, Identity, Merchandise, Store, Who shop


At a moment when fandom is becoming more visible to mainstream audiences and fan studies interrogates the media industry's appropriation of fannish behavior, it is important not to neglect the local and independent aspects of fan activity. In a rhetorical reading of two independent geek-themed stores, the Who Shop and Alien Entertainment, I analyze the way they appear to harness, market, and generate feelings of fan alterity, a deliberate self-othering of the fan. Fan studies has discussed the mainstreaming of fandom through the lens of major media corporations and marketing campaigns. However, fan studies has rarely addressed the impact of independent, local geek stories on fan experiences. The experience of visiting the stores reinforces a discourse of fan marginality, (re)establishing a uniqueness to the fan identity that the discourse of mainstreaming elides and enlivening the fan experience through historicity and face-to-face activity.

Author Biography

Paul J. Booth, DePaul University

Associate Professor, Media and Cinema Studies, College of Communication