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affect

[QUOTE] From Wilson, Anna. 2016. “The Role of Affect in Fan Fiction.” In “The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work,” edited by Ika Willis, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 21.http://ift.tt/2c6cCRl. (via wildehacked)

Fan fiction often demonstrates a high level of knowledge of and insight into its source texts (or canons, in fan fiction vocabulary) and, as an allusive literary form, rewards equally high levels of knowledge in its readers. This knowledge has an erotic inflection (as, famously, in early English translations of the Bible, where to know is to intimately penetrate); fans have not only understanding but intimacy with their canon, and fan fiction increases this intimacy. Theorists of fan fiction often speak of fan fiction as filling the gaps in a source text, a phrase with its own sexual undertones that also describes fan fiction’s self-assumed role as interlinear glossing of a source text. Silences and absences in the source text act as barriers to intimacy, and fan fiction writers fill these silences with their imaginative activity, enabling their own deeper understanding of the world and characters of the source text. In its current context in popular media fandom, fan fiction is, among other things, a heuristic tool: a mental technology that facilitates understanding of a text by means of an affective hermeneutics—a set of ways of gaining knowledge through feeling.

Wilson, Anna. 2016. “The Role of Affect in Fan Fiction.” In “The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work,” edited by Ika Willis, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 21.http://ift.tt/2c6cCRl. (via wildehacked) ift.tt/2dHAQa6

[QUOTE] From Wilson, Anna. 2016. “The Role of Affect in Fan Fiction.” In “The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work,” edited by Ika Willis, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 21.http://ift.tt/2c6cCRl. (via wildehacked)

Fan fiction often demonstrates a high level of knowledge of and insight into its source texts (or canons, in fan fiction vocabulary) and, as an allusive literary form, rewards equally high levels of knowledge in its readers. This knowledge has an erotic inflection (as, famously, in early English translations of the Bible, where to know is to intimately penetrate); fans have not only understanding but intimacy with their canon, and fan fiction increases this intimacy. Theorists of fan fiction often speak of fan fiction as filling the gaps in a source text, a phrase with its own sexual undertones that also describes fan fiction’s self-assumed role as interlinear glossing of a source text. Silences and absences in the source text act as barriers to intimacy, and fan fiction writers fill these silences with their imaginative activity, enabling their own deeper understanding of the world and characters of the source text. In its current context in popular media fandom, fan fiction is, among other things, a heuristic tool: a mental technology that facilitates understanding of a text by means of an affective hermeneutics—a set of ways of gaining knowledge through feeling.

Wilson, Anna. 2016. “The Role of Affect in Fan Fiction.” In “The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work,” edited by Ika Willis, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 21.http://ift.tt/2c6cCRl.
(via wildehacked) ift.tt/2bY9jib

[LINK] New fan-themed issue of the journal Participations

The tenth issue of Participations, an online open access journal for audience studies, has a section full of new articles about fan culture. The section was put together by the Fan Studies Network, a network for fan studies researchers.

I haven’t had time to read any of the articles yet, but it sounds like there’s some very interesting stuff in here about many fandoms and fan practices – from Doctor Who, Glee, and Star Wars to Tumblr, kink memes, fandom and politics, and dojinshi. Here’s a list of all the fan-themed articles in the issue (all links go to PDFs):

Bennett, Lucy & Tom Phillips: ‘An introduction: The Fan Studies Network – new connections, new research’

Booth, Paul & Peter Kelly: ‘The changing faces of Doctor Who fandom: New fans, new technologies, old practices?’

Busse, Kristina: ‘Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan’

Chin, Bertha & Lori Hitchcock Morimoto: ‘Towards a theory of transcultural fandom’

Ellison, Hannah: ‘Submissives, Nekos and Futanaris: a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Glee Kink Meme’

Hills, Matt: ‘Fiske’s ‘textual productivity’ and digital fandom: Web 2.0 democratization versus fan distinction?’

Lamerichs, Nicolle: ‘The cultural dynamic of doujinshi and cosplay: Local anime fandom in Japan, USA and Europe’

Pett, Emma: ‘”Hey! Hey! I’ve seen this one, I’ve seen this one. It’s a classic!”: Nostalgia, repeat viewing and cult performance in Back to the Future

Proctor, William: ‘”Holy crap, more Star Wars! More Star Wars? What if they’re crap?”: Disney, Lucasfilm and Star Wars online fandom in the 21st century’

Sandvoss, Cornel: ‘Toward an understanding of political enthusiasm as media fandom: Blogging, fan productivity and affect in American politics’

Whiteman, Natasha, Joanne Metivier: ‘From post-object to “Zombie” fandoms: The “deaths” of online fan communities and what they say about us’

Bury, Rhiannon, Ruth Deller, Adam Greenwood & Bethan Jones: ‘From Usenet to Tumblr: The changing role of social media’

McCulloch, Richard, Virginia Crisp, Jon Hickman & Stephanie Jones: ‘Of proprietors and poachers: Fandom as negotiated brand ownership’

Freund, Kathrina & Dianna Fielding: ‘Research ethics in fan studies’

Jones, Bethan & Lucy Bennett: ‘Blurring boundaries, crossing divides: An interview with Will Brooker’

Delmar, Javier Lozano & Victor Hernández-Santaolalla & Marina Ramos: ‘Fandom generated content: An approach to the concept of ‘fanadvertising”

Sturm, Damion & Andrew McKinney: ‘Affective hyper-consumption and immaterial labors of love: Theorizing sport fandom in the age of new media’

 

[META] Accent Memes, Brit-picking, and Other Perpetually Fascinating Phenomena of Internet Linguistics

Let me get this out of the way right now: I once lived in fear of Anglophilia. This fear has had serious consequences, such as, for example, preventing me from reading the Harry Potter books, and, until a few years ago, watching Buffy (which I knew contained prominent British characters played by American actors, inspiring what I feared would be an awkwardly Anglophilic fanbase). My parents are British, you see, but I have lived my entire life in the United States, and therefore have a solidly USAmerican accent, Central Pennsylvanian to be specific. Starting in early childhood, I experienced the social world of strangers as one utterly fascinated by my parents’ accents, and one saddened by my lack of the same. And so, early on, I developed my Linguistics 101 talking points about the connections between accent, affect, perceived credibility, and social class. Aside from the Linguistics 101 situation, I’ve found that these talking points become relevant in two other situations in which I commonly find myself: when I am meeting new colleagues, for example, a new cohort of graduate students in my program, or when an accent meme goes around among a newly-coalescing group of internet friends. The former situation is not relevant here, but I think the latter one is, if only because it offers a way in to a discussion of internet intimacy, and how it connects to the language politics of fandom. I’ve been through three or four “rounds” of accent memes with various online social circles, and some interesting trends have emerged. Here, I’m talking about accent memes that specifically look for likely points of difference (say, the pronunciation of Mary/marry/merry) among English speakers, rather than, say, the dynamics of a wave of podficcing, which are less predictable depending on the variety of fans involved. Within accent memes proper, I’ve noticed that people seem to produce an attitude toward language that values authenticity and rare speech patterns in ways that would stretch the boundaries of etiquette in a different context. To be clear, I am as guilty as anyone else of this exoticizing impulse, particularly when it’s combined with the inevitable excitement of connecting a person’s textual presence with a new sensory element of their presence, their voice. But it does strike me as somehow strange that it’s so much more common to hear “oh, that accent is so cool” than it would be (I hope) to say “oh, that person’s face/name is so cool.” Certainly, when people post pictures of themselves, there’s an expected chorus of “you’re so cute!” but it feels somehow different. That “somehow” is what drew me to the study of linguistics in college. For a few key historical reasons, English speakers in the U.S. are incredibly confused about what one can and cannot say about language. The most important of these, I think, is the institutional equation of Standard Written/White English with “correct grammar,” and its inherent enforcement of the prescriptive approach to language patterns. Armed with an understanding of SWE versus the deviant, many English speakers in the U.S. create a strict division between the language of education and professional advancement on the one side, and the language of emotion, family, and home on the other. (Obviously I’m generalizing to a ridiculous degree here.) Within internet culture, this distinction can become even more deeply entrenched. Hardly the revitalization of communitarian culture some have proclaimed the internet to be, some spheres of internet culture create their hierarchies entirely based on language use, taking prescriptive mandates more seriously than many English teachers. But this attention to detail is not without its own insights for social justice vis a vis judgements of linguistic competence. For example, to accompany the exoticization I’ve seen in accent memes, there’s a counter-phenomenon of the Brit-pick. Here the accuracy of non-British fic authors’ representations of British characters’ voices is put to the test by native speakers of particular varieties of British English. I find Brit-picking (and its cousins, such as Yank-wank, which term I’ll have to admit I’ve never seen used) fascinating, especially as it relates to accent meme authenticity. I assume that in the context of concrit, it’s actually quite helpful, but when, as an outside reader, I encounter a comment that says “no British person would say x,” I find it strange. I’m sure it’s true sometimes, but I can’t think of many statements I’d be confident in saying that no native speaker of American English could ever organically utter. I mean, I know I’ve come up with some pretty odd, non-idiomatic sentences while composing this very piece, but I don’t think any of them disqualifies me from my national identity. These issues are all separate, of course, and I’d like to do a post at some point on my perhaps naive confusion as to why so many actors are asked to play characters with dramatically different accents than their own. (Dollhouse offers something of an in-story explanation of this, but that’s a topic for another day.) I’d also like to think more about the space podfic creates for a discussion of the connection between the aesthetic and narrative effects of accents and accent mimicry, and how conversations surrounding podfic differ from the off-the-cuff accent meme responses. But for today, I hope I’ve raised some questions worth thinking further about, related to language and online fandom.

[META] Affective Aesthetics

I love fan works. I love the way they exhibit a love for the source text, the way they engage with it actively and often times critically, and the way they create a community of readerly writers and writerly readers in turn. And yet, whenever I move beyond the very narrow confines of the subdiscipline of fan studies, I am shocked yet again how the academy remains entrenched in outmoded value systems. After having spent all my years in grad school in the early nineties assuming that the canon debates were all but decided, the repeated assertion of high brow aesthetics, the establishment of canonical texts, and the dismissal of popular works astound me. Working on fan works, I feel like I’m fighting the debates over the values of popular culture and the arbitrariness of aesthetic evaluation again and again. The latest in a long line of these is a recent chapter in the Scope book Cultural Borrowings: Appropriation, Reworking, Transformation, entitled A Taxonomy of Digital Video Remixing: Contemporary Found Footage Practice on the Internet by Eli Horwatt. It smartly connects avant garde aesthetics with contemporary digital remix practices, yet when reading I felt there to be a huge gap: where is the discussion of vidding? It can’t be that vids weren’t good enough for the author, because many of the cited pieces were technically and aesthetically less sophisticated than the vids we find within fandom. And yet as I read his taxonomy of “estrangement” and “inversion” I can’t help but fear that the reason vids are absent is because they’re too subtle rather than not subtle enough. Now, of course subtlety is already a conflicted aesthetic judgment but it tends to be one most of us have been taught through secondary school and beyond: complexity and subtlety, the ability to hide thoughts and ideas so as not to jump out at viewers/readers right away but to require “work,” tend to be valued in most contemporary Western contexts. Throughout the piece, Horwatt values aesthetic choices that increase complexity, and even as they may “replicat[e] the grammar of the source material,” he values them for their criticism of the source. And it is here that my suspicion begins as to why vidding is such a prominently excluded genre in this TAXONOMY: after all, an essay that includes Jonathan McIntosh’s Buffy/Edward remix, Brokeback Mountain parody trailers, and Downfall subtitle parodies, should have a place for Killa’s Closer, Lum and Sisabet’s Women’s Work or Obsessive24′s Climbing Up the Walls. The difficulties here are manifold, however. These vids may indeed require an understanding of not only the source text but also the community in which they are created. After all, these vids engage not only with the text but with varied receptions thereof and the conversations surrounding these receptions. On that level, they may be too subtle next to the examples presented. Neither are the examples used all that clear-cut. As much as I appreciate Jonathan’s remix, Buffy vs Edward, I have discussed with him the way he appropriates one text nearly uncritically to make fun of the other; many of the Brokeback Mountain trailers are quite blatantly homophobic (as Julie Levin Russo has convincingly demonstrated); and as a German who continues to understand the original soundtrack of the clip, the Downfall subtitles just aren’t that funny to me. All of which is to say, these cultural artifacts are themselves much more complex and the move of gathering them together as if they weren’t is problematic. And I can’t help but wonder whether it’s even more than that: one of the things that all the examples share is an almost detached ironic distance to the source texts used. They are found materials with little to no emotional resonance beyond what purpose they can serve. But then that’s an argument Henry Jenkins has repeatedly made, here, for example, that parody tends to be male- and industry-preferred whereas the more emotional engagement of fanvids is often dismissed out of hand. Fans, on the other hand, however contentious our relationship to our fannish objects may be, at heart have a strong emotional affective relationship. The three fannish vid examples I cite above all share that love even as they go beyond it and analyze, interpret, and criticize (characters, show runners, and fan audiences in turn). Vidding thus is an art form that is both too subtly critical (because always inflected with fannish passion) and too polished aesthetically (because the aesthetic dimension does matter above and beyond the critical point being made) to, perhaps, fit into a quick overview of YouTube remixes. Still, as both a vibrant subculture of critical interpretive if not outright political remix culture and an sophisticated artistic subculture with its own aesthetic value system, fan vids certainly deserve to be included in any “Taxonomy of Digital Video Remixing.” Ultimately I have no idea why Eli Horwatt chose to write a chapter on remix videos without including either vidding or AMV. Beyond missing out on one of the older contemporary remix practices, he also fails to engage in the quite complex interrelation between love and critique, aesthetic distance and affect, as well as the way fans have long been trailblazing not just remixes but the ability to interrogate and criticize and culturally resist without dismissing the text and their relationship to it or ironically distancing themselves. And indeed, there is a growing scholarship that addresses not only the critical and aesthetic but also the affective components of vidding. The academy has often been accused of unrealistic attempts of objectivity in the humanities in particular but even in the sciences. After English departments in the seventies destroyed the idea of an objectively created value system that can separate great from merely mediocre and bad literature, after anthropology departments realized in the eighties that observers cannot ever remain neutral and always bring their own biases to their field research; after queer theory and gender theory and critical race studies have brought the personal into the academic in the nineties; after affect theory has established itself as a field of study since–it amazed me that vidding may indeed have been overlooked in its merging of love and inquiry, affect and analysis, celebration and criticism.