Thoughts on an ethical approach to archives in fan studies

  • Dennis Jansen Utrecht University
Keywords: Affect, Autoethnography, Ethics, Materiality, Methodology


Much of fan studies research is concerned with archives, especially online archives created by and for fans. Across the discipline, however, methodologies still lack an element of self-reflection when it comes to the affective, embodied aspects of doing research in those archives. Such a methodology becomes especially crucial when we consider these archives as power structures. In a critique of the way fan studies has dealt with archives as a cultural phenomenon thus far, I work through a theoretical framework that allows for an awareness and consideration of one's embodied experience of digital archives by way of bodily affect and materiality. Analyzed is an autoethnographic account of the difference in materiality (and thus in affect) between two fan-made archives for Bethesda Game Studios' video game franchise The Elder Scrolls (1994–), with suggestions proposed for future efforts in crafting a general fan studies methodology for archival research.