Queerbaiting: Context, Context, Context!

“Queerbaiting is a historical situated term, assuming that we live in a time and place where queer representation is possible yet constantly denied. The same people that accuse producers of TV shows from the 21st century of queerbaiting, defend TV shows from the 1990s, because
these are considered to have been produced under other circumstances that did not allow queer representation. “

Nordin, Emma. 2015. ‘From Queer Reading to Queerbaiting: The Battle over the Polysemic Text and the Power of Hermeneutics’, 13. Master’s Programme in Cinema Studies, Sweden: Stockholms Universitet.

Romance and fan fiction

The distinction between romance and fan fiction is a headache for literary theorists and fans/romance writers alike. Of course, we all know they are different, but it’s sometimes hard to define how. Especially if we are forced to take commercialization out of the equation.

Katherine Morissey states: „(p)ast explorations of fan fiction as romance have often focused on the categories of het (male/female relationships) and slash (male/male) fan fiction. This work often either categorizes fan fiction as a type of romance writing (…).” She adds: ” (i)n scholarship on fan fiction, slash has often been framed as a kind of feminist and/or grassroots counter to a predominantly heterosexual mass-market romance (…).” She also talks about the different role of eroticism in the two – or at least how they are framed.

What are your experiences?

Morissey, Katherine. 2014. “Fifty Shades of remix: the intersecting pleasures of commercial and fan romances.” In Journal of Popular Romance Studies 1 (2014/4). http://jprstudies.org/2014/02/fifty-shades-of-remix-the-intersecting-pleasures-of-commercial-and-fan-romancesby-katherine-morrissey/

The meaning of being a media fan in the current Chinese cultural environment

Being a fan signifies two different cultural identities and practices in the current Chinese cultural environment. Voluntarily engaging in the celebrity economy and star system, actively purchasing everything related to the celebrities, and voluntarily supporting and publicizing beloved celebrity and media products are not only tolerated but welcomed by the industry, and sometimes even the government. However, if fans commits their time to writing fan fiction, creating fan art, and editing fan videos—that is, if they engage in secondary creations that do not generate visible revenue for either the industry or the government—such fans will too often be ignored, marginalized, and erased.

Zheng, Xiqing. 2019. “Survival and Migration Patterns of Chinese Online Media Fandoms.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1805.

“Online slash fan fiction spaces have real-life, real-world consequences for their participants, whether or not those participants identify as queer, because in these spaces, fans can question and defy prohibitions and policing on their own imaginations, identifications, and intimacies.”

De Kosnik, Abigail. 2016. Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom, 149. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Shipnames (or Fandom Pairing Name Blends)

One of my linguistics professors became interested in Fandom Pairing Name Blends after I told him about it, so I had to write about them for his seminar. I based that paper on a writing by Cara DiGirolamo.

They identify grammatical “principles at work in shaping the compounded word”, such as Stress Match or Lexical Neighborhood Evaluation. Now, Stress Match is a question of prosody, which is not exactly my area of research, but principles like Lexical Neighborhood Evaluation have a background the social, so that was my starting point.

Archive of our own, of course, hosts works in Hungarian and I only looked at those works. , I have already mentioned Merengő, the site that hosts Hungarian works exclusively. The reason I picked archive of our own only instead of doing comparative analysis was actually just the amount of work: this was, but a seminar paper.

I collected the shipnames in Hungarian works (tags, descriptions, notes etc.) that are based on English names or English words (like Ironman or frostgiants). With these works, none of the linguistics reasons DiGirolamo pointed out could have worked, especially not Lexical Neighborhood Evaluation. I also had words like Irongiant for Tony Stark and Loki Laufeyson, which could have been Vasóriás in Hungarian, but the creators rather used the same word, Cara DiGirolamo noticed in English speaking fandom.

All of this seems to suggest so far that Hungarian fandom adapts the English (or international) shipnames and not their word blending methods.

DiGirolamo, Cara M. 2012. “The Fandom Pairing Name Blends and the Phonology-Orthography Interface” In The Journal of Onomastics 4. https://doi.org/10.1179/0027773812Z.00000000034

Where can I publish undergraduate work on fans? Part 2

Last week, we answered a question on how to make your undergraduate research on fans available to the world. We talked about where to archive existing papers. But what if you have the time or inclination to write something new?

You can still use Zenodo or other academic archives to publish. However, there are also some academic journals that accept work by undergraduates and other people in the (admittedly nebulous) category of “student”.

There are some downsides to choosing an academic journal as your outlet. It’s definitely not quick or easy. For one, there’s no guarantee that your submission will ultimately be accepted. It may not be right for the journal at that particular point in time, or reviewers might decide that your text needs more work before it can meet the journal’s quality standards. Publishing in a journal also means that there will probably be a long gap between your submission of a paper, its acceptance, and its publication. Well upwards of half a year is very common. With many journals, almost everyone involved in the publishing process is a volunteer with a day job. Putting together even one journal issue can be a gargantuan task, from managing a flood of submissions to finding the right reviewers for papers, arranging for editing, and herding flocks of authors and reviewers who have to agree on whether a paper is ready for public scrutiny.

On the other hand, you get all the benefits of scholarly publishing: honest feedback from other researchers who will review your work, professional editing, and the satisfaction of appearing alongside established scholars. Your work will get a lot more visibility, and an academic publication is a great addition to a CV.

In short, depending on your needs, an academic journal could be the right venue for you. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting a few places where students can publish.

In response to our previous post, Dr. Julia Largent pointed out that the Popular Culture Studies Journal showcases student work in every issue:

If you’re curious about the journal and its submission requirements, check out its website, which offers not only information on sending work to the journal but also open access copies of past issues (hurrah for open access).

As pointed out in the Twitter thread above, you do have to be a current student to be considered for the student showcase. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you just graduated, however. You can also try submitting your work as a general submission, to be considered and evaluated in the same way as offerings from professional scholars. Contact Dr. Largent or the Popular Culture Studies Journal with any questions.

Up next week: Transformative Works and Cultures!

Congressional Fanfiction & Fic-As-Resistance

“… [S]ince the 2016 election, as American political engagement has boomed — the 2018 midterms had the highest voter turnout percentage for any midterm in 104 years — fan fiction scholars have noted a spike in stories featuring the U.S. Congress. What makes this boomlet strange is that at its core, fan fiction “is about genuinely liking a person,” says Dr. Amber Davisson, coauthor of Politics for the Love of Fandom: Fan-Based Citizenship in a Digital World. And historically, well, not many people like Congress. As of August of this year, the institution’s average Gallup approval rating was 17 percent — somehow an improvement over the first half of this decade.”

Before this article, I had no idea that congressional fanfiction existed. I’m Canadian, so it’s not something went looking for for obvious reasons. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Despite the fact that fanfiction does have its roots in a love for whatever is being written about, it’s also a form of expression whose very purpose is to transform a work into something else. It’s about love, yes, but love for something doesn’t mean you have to like it all the time. Sometimes, loving something is about wanting to make it better. In other words: just because I don’t approve of Congress, doesn’t mean I don’t want to see a world in which I do approve of it. Disapproval does mean an absence of love.

Though the article goes on to talk a little bit about this, it fails to mention that nothing about this “boomlet” of congressional fanfiction is strange, because it’s doing what fic has done all along: transforming the work. From Camille Bacon-Smith’s Enterprising Women (1991), to Anne Jamison’s more recent fic (2013), fandom and fanfic scholars have argued that part of what makes fanfiction such an interesting medium is its resistance to its source material—whether that be through gender or race-bending, Fix-It fic, or through the plethora of AUs that have come into regular circulation among fan communities.

Of course, all these things most definitely also have their problems. Racism and fetishization exist in our communities just as they exist everywhere else on the Internet and beyond… but the rebellious way that fanfiction reclaiming narrative is a perfect vehicle for working through feelings of frustration, hopelessness, anger or joy—and these days, a lot of those feelings get tied up in politics.

How do you feel about congressional fanfic? Did you know it existed? Are you surprised? Let’s talk!

Ashworth, Samuel. 2019. ‘McDreamy, McSteamy, and McConnell’. Blog/Magazine. Longreads (blog). September 2019. https://longreads.com/2019/09/16/mcdreamy-mcsteamy-and-mcconnell/amp/?__twitter_impression=true.

Chi Luu: All the feels: the morphology of reaction gifs

In this article, Luu examines reaction gifs as formed in the context of second literacy (the phrase ’second literacy’ comes from Marshall McLuhan’s book, Understanding Media and it’s based on the idea that language works so radically different in writing and in digital writing that they are separate literacies). I would call attention to the part that might be the most interesting to the research of fandom communities:

„Thus, reaction gifs identify gestures in body language which are already prevalent in general pop culture. These are further defined and stylized through frequent usage by an online community. It is because these emotional responses are often well-worn tropes from film and narrative, based in a culture’s knowledge of nonlinguistic cues, that they can be more easily shared and understood. Simple emoticons can be used straightforwardly in text to signal an emotional cue. A reaction gif seems to be used more creatively as a meta-commentary than purely authentically for conveying emotion (and) it could be argued that it was not until the popularity of reaction gifs that speakers began to develop a robust shared lexicon of online gestures and that this began to move into speech itself.”

The part I would emphasize is how Luu draws a difference between trying to convey the speaker’s body language (which is also part of any written language) and invoking pop culture trope gestures. The repetetive using of these gifs extends our vocabulary beyond words and idioms: now we have reaction gifs (and memes and emoticons), too. Of course, even people outside of fandom use this vocabulary, too. But to understand why there is an added layer to communicate Captain Picard facepalming, we need to look at fannish practices and fannish usage of language (and as any linguist would tell you that, that is an infinitely fascinating area).

Luu, Chi. 2015. “All the feels: the morphology of reaction gifs” JSTOR Daily https://daily.jstor.org/the-morphology-of-reaction-gifs/

Meet the volunteer: Dorottya

Hello! I am Dorottya, part of the rogue crew of academics that is the Fanhackers. My first fandom experience was on the Hungarian fan fiction site, Merengő (named after the Pensieve) in the 2000s, so on the one hand, I’ve been around since the 2000s.

On the other hand, I have no memory of the fandom of the 2000s as many of my colleagues at the OTW would know it. My first fandom was Harry Potter. Since then, I’ve been really enjoying transformative works relating to Star Wars, Star Trek, Jane Austen’s works, Studio Ghibli movies, and His Dark Materials. My favourite tropes concern arranged marriage, worldbuilding, philosophical discussions (that sounds pretentious, but I just love it so much when either the narrator or one of the character starts nerding out) and college AUs (even though I am still in college and I find nothing inherently trope-worthy in it, when I live the finals, seminars and the lack of sleep). I’ve always found fandom a delightfully postmodern experience.

I have a literature and linguistics major and anthropology minor BA, and I’m currently doing my masters in literary theory at ELTE. My BA thesis was about how fandom creates its own register (which, if you’ve already finished your BA, you will find an incredibly foolish question to answer with a BA thesis). I do agree with BA!Dorottya that pre-internet fandom and post-internet fandom created its register entirely differently, and I do think that this can partly explain how we got the interpretative communities that we have, but I don’t aim to describe this in less than 60 pages. My next challenge probably will be along the lines of the implied reader (which would also help to herd my topic back into the territory of literary theory). (The Implied reader is a neat concept, which you can start to learn more about here and here.)

If you want to nerd out together about any of the above topics, say hi on Twitter.

I’m really looking forward to nerding out about fandom studies with all of you. Live long and may the Force be with you!

Where can I publish my undergraduate paper on fans?

bakurapika asked: I had an undergrad paper in 2015 or so about roleplay on tumblr (specifically the vocabulary in use). I don’t suppose that’s something I could post somewhere useful?

Excellent question. If you want to publish an undergrad paper about fans online and make sure people can find it, I’d suggest the following approach:

Step 1: Upload your paper to a reliable, non-profit research hosting service

There are many online services designed to share research with the world. Many of these also accept undergraduate work. Research support specialists at university libraries usually recommend hosting your research on a well-established non-profit service, like Zenodo or figshare. These are essentially AO3s for sharing academic materials instead of fanworks. Just make a free account, and you’re ready to upload and share your work. You don’t need to be affiliated with an academic institution to host your research on Zenodo or figshare. These services will preserve a secure copy of your work in perpetuity, for free, with a license of your choice (Creative Commons licenses are very useful). You can host and share not only papers, but also other research materials like datasets and presentations.

Note that there are also some well-known for-profit services where researchers share work, especially Academia.edu, which has a great deal of people on it. You may want to put your work there as well to reach a larger audience. However, we caution against making for-profit services the one and only forever home of your research materials. Academic publishing has a lot of issues with for-profit entities trying to exploit the free labor of researchers. Not unlike fandom, really! This is a long story that we’ll get back to a lot on this blog. In short, for reasons, research support specialists recommend non-profit over for-profit services for now.

Step 2: Add a reference to your paper to the OTW’s fan studies bibliography

When you’ve given your paper a safe online home, it’s time to make sure people actually find the information. Add the paper to the OTW’s bibliography so that others searching for fan studies work can find it easily. Undergrad papers absolutely belong in this bibliography. To add your work, drop us a note with the link to your paper. As described on the bibliography page, you can also add pages by making your own account on Zotero, the software that’s the backend of the fan studies bibliography.

Note that Zotero is designed for serious business academic use and can be a bit confusing if you’ve never used it before. Don’t hesitate to just send us a link if you don’t feel like learning a whole new bibliography management tool! We’re totally happy to add things for people. (But if you need a bibliography management tool, do learn more about Zotero. It’s free and open source, and very good at what it does.)

Optional step 3: Add content from your paper to Fanlore

People come to Fanlore to learn more about the past and present of all aspects of fan culture. If you add the most interesting or informative parts of your paper to relevant Fanlore articles, you greatly increase chances that other fans will find that information. Find the Fanlore article(s) that are most closely related to your paper, and add sections from the paper wherever they seem to fit. Fanlore has some good how-to info if you’re new to editing a wiki. You can add a link to your paper on Zenodo or figshare in the References section of the Fanlore article.

Hope this helps! This is only one of many ways to share undergraduate papers on fan culture, of course. Do let us know about any other questions or suggestions you have.