Theorizing Fan Fiction and Fan Communities (edited volume; completed papers due 4/1/05)
Fan fiction has recently gained increasing visibility in both mass media and academic writing. Although numerous insightful essays have appeared in various venues, no comprehensive essay collection has traced the changes and shifts in fan culture and fan fiction since the groundbreaking works of Henry Jenkins, Camille Bacon-Smith, and Constance Penley of the early 1990s.
This essay collection looks to complement these crucial early explorations into fan fiction by expanding their scope and focus to include such recent phenomena as the Internet (with fan culture revolving around Usenet groups, mailing lists, and blogs); the rapid growth of stories featuring previously taboo subjects such as underage sex, incest, and real person fiction (RPF); and the changing demographics of the fan base. Recent work has also queried the frequently debated and constantly shifting attitudes toward writing and community, as well as more sophisticated self-analysis, in part the result of the increasing presence of academic fans.
We are looking for academic essays geared toward a general readership and particularly welcome personal reflections of readers, writers, and fans. This collection strives to be interdisciplinary, and we especially welcome historical, sociological, and anthropological approaches, as well as English and media studies. Essays may focus on particular fandoms and source texts but should ultimately move beyond the specifics to address larger concerns and experiences relevant to fandom and fan fiction at large. Papers will fit into one of four broad sections: history and terminology; text, writer, reader; forms and genres; and community.
1. History and terminology
Factual accounts of history and terminology should be tempered with analysis, perhaps indicating shifts as time passes and as fan fiction moves from hard copy to cyberspace. Traditional zines, fan fiction CDs and downloads, Usenet, mailing lists, and blogs could be analyzed, perhaps in terms of fandom's response to technological change. Analysis of specific fandoms as well as more general overviews are welcome.
2. Text, writer, reader
The relationship among any of the three elements of the rhetorical situation needs analysis. Academic/fan, reader/writer, process and writing, engagement with source text (such as episode fixes or traumatic events in the canon source), questions of canon, fanon and characterization, and issues of author insertion and identification--these are just a few uneasy relationships that need contextualization. Studies of the process of writing, as opposed to the product, as central are also needed.
3. Forms and genres
Content (romance, hurt/comfort, Mary Sue, slash, het/ship, genfic, episode fixes, alternate universes and realities, mpreg, BDSM, kinkfic, elves, wingfic) and form (real person fiction or slash, role-playing games, songfic, drabbles) should be assessed with a view to reaching a novel conclusion. Possible topics might include partnership versus enemy romance; the notion of slash as an idealized relationship; and challenge fics.
New analyses of the fan fiction community generating and consuming the texts that take into account new use of technology are needed. LiveJournal and other online communities, the interaction among writer/beta/audience, fan fiction as gift, strategies to meld the fan fiction community (cons, fic archives), and inculcation of new fans into the fan fiction community all need to be theorized in light of technological change and a concomitant lack of policing. Other possible topics include the identity politics of fandom and the emotional investment of fans into fandom, the texts, and each other.
All fandoms are welcome, as are essays about mediafic, bookfic, comicfic, and RPF. The volume will be geared to academics and students interested in jargon-free, theory-based analyses of media and audience, including, among others, students in English, media studies, and sociology. Personal scholarly essays as well as more traditional academic essays are encouraged.
Submit complete essays not more than 7500 words in length (excluding abstract, notes, and works cited). Include an abstract not more than 500 words long that summarizes the argument. Submit files via e-mail in Microsoft Word or .rtf format. Use in-text author-page number citations whenever possible. Use endnotes sparingly for substantive notes. Style according to Chicago 15. If artwork, photographs, or screen shots are included, contact the editors for instructions and copyright release requirements. No simultaneous submissions. We also cannot accept previously published essays. If you have put your essay up on the Internet, we cannot consider it for inclusion.
Dr. Karen Hellekson and Dr. Kristina Busse
April 1, 2005. Please inform us in advance of your interest in the project and get in contact with us about any questions you might have about possible submission topics. We also encourage early submission to facilitate revision.
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