Affirmational canons and transformative literature: Notes on teaching with fandom


  • Linda Zygutis Arizona State University



Authorship, Composition, Education, New Criticism


Instructors who use fan studies in the classroom are likely to make use of transformative works and theories. The remix classroom offers a way to read against popular interpretations of mainstream texts. In the process, teaching with fandom—not to mention fandom itself—is often presented specifically as a salve to prescriptive readings of texts. Yet fan practices are often imagined by mainstream culture as being uniquely affirmational—a particularly enthusiastic form of close reading that emphasizes and rewards deference to an authorial voice. In this sense, the way media and popular culture understand fandom is as an extension of how students are often taught to read texts: via a formalistic, New Critical approach that centers authoritative criticism. Students who interact with fan texts but do not see themselves as fans feel this way, just as students often fail to recognize themselves as critical readers because expertise has been made into a form of gatekeeping.