"I'm Buffy, and you're history": Putting fan studies into history

  • Nancy Reagin Pace University
  • Anne Rubenstein York University
Keywords: Fan history, Female fan, Tarzan, Karl May, Science fiction, Wiki, Zine, Sherlockian, Fan letter, Music fan, Sports fan, Cultural exchange, Cross-ethnic identification, Cold War, Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, Copyright, Walter Benjamin


This essay kicks off the special historical issue of Transformative Works and Cultures by offering an overview of the ways in which fan communities have been studied by academic historians, and how fan studies has written the history of fan communities. The essay discusses historical work done by amateur fan historians throughout the 20th century; what academic historians can offer fan communities; why academic historians could benefit from studying fandoms as part of the history of popular culture; and what fan studies as a discipline might gain from a broader historical analysis of fandoms.

Author Biographies

Nancy Reagin, Pace University
Nancy Reagin is a Professor of History and Women's & Gender Studies (joint appointment) at Pace University in New York, where she is the chair of the Department of Women's & Gender Studies.
Anne Rubenstein, York University
Anne Rubenstein is an Associate Professor of History at York University, in Toronto.