European Fandom and Fan Studies: Localization and Translation One Day Symposium, 9 November 2013 Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and University of Amsterdam Department of Media Studies Call for Papers The increasingly global circulation of media often threatens to obscure local contexts of reception, identification, interpretation, and translation. This one day symposium at the University of Amsterdam seeks to explore the state of Fan Studies and the variety of Fandoms focused within the social and geographical boundaries of Europe, particularly with regard to processes of localization and translation, broadly interpreted. Inter-disciplinary papers are invited to explore the nature of the field itself, how different fandoms function within Europe, and how European fan cultures re-interpret, re-imagine, translate, and localize foreign media texts or foreign fan practices. Potential avenues of exploration may include how Fan Studies is represented, studied, and received within European universities, by funding bodies and publishers. Papers on fandoms may explore how European (English and non-English speaking) fans of European and non-European objects of fan appreciation participate in fandom, the differences between internet fandoms and local/national/international fan practices, and objects of fan appreciation that originate within Europe. Topics of interest include but are not limited to: -Regional fan histories. -Negotiation between international and local fan infrastructures. -Local and national adaptation of fan cultures and identities. -European fans’ impact on international public policy and industry practice. -Fans’ relationships to national media industries and public policy. -National and transnational economies within fandom and/or fan studies. -Crossing national, cultural, and language boundaries in fandom and fan studies. -Translation, both linguistic and cultural. -Fans’ local and international languages and economies of desire. -Framing local European fan objects and cultures within fan studies. -Processes of translation, adaptation, and localization in European fans’ interaction with global media. The symposium is associated with a special issue of the journal of Transformative Works and Cultures tentatively slated for 2015, with full papers due January 1, 2014. Event Details The symposium will be held in the center of Amsterdam, easily accessible from Amsterdam international airport. Submission Process Please send a 300 word abstract along with a short (100 word) biographical note to Anne Kustritz (A.M.Kustritz@uva.nl<mailto:A.M.Kustritz@uva.nl>) or Emma England (E.E.England@uva.nl<mailto:E.E.England@uva.nl>) by 10 September.
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Fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has published its thirteenth issue on comics fandom. Here are links to all the articles, on topics ranging from women in comics fandom to fans on 4chan to Captain America and various other Avengers-related things. Enjoy! As usual, we’ll be posting some good quotes from the articles too.
Matthew J. Costello: The super politics of comic book fandom
Symposium (short articles):
Forrest Phillips: Captain America and fans’ political activity
Amanda Odom: Professionalism: Hyperrealism and play
Rebecca Lucy Busker: Fandom and male privilege: Seven years later
Ora C. McWilliams: Who is afraid of a black Spider(-Man)?
Matthew J. Costello: Interview with comics artist Lee Weeks
Kate Roddy, Carlen Lavigne, Suzanne Scott: Toward a feminist superhero: An interview with Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, and Suze Shore
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is currently in its third edition and encompasses over 4 million words about all things SF. It is published online in collaboration with Gollancz and the SF Gateway.
This new version follows thirty-five years of work (on and off), and is heavily expanded from previous editions. The first being under the GeneralEditorship of Peter Nicholls in 1979; and the 1993 Second Edition, being edited by John Clute (the most prolific contributor to date) and Peter Nicholls. The third edition is based on the 1995 CD-Rom “printing” and it has David Langford as the primary technical editor as well as a contributor.
As a resource for fan studies, the encyclopedia is useful because it includes a whole section titled “Culture” including separate categories/tags for “Publication”, “Fan”, “Award”, and “International”. It is by no means comprehensive but it does offer information not always found elsewhere, especially regarding SF fanzines and Big Name Fans (of literature especially).
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?’
Chin, Bertha & Lori Hitchcock Morimoto: ‘Towards a theory of transcultural fandom’
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’
If you’re looking for a place to read academic research on fans, or a place to publish your own research, check out this list of journals compiled by the Fan Studies Network. The list is handily divided into open access journals (journals that can be read for free online by anyone) and non-open access journals (journals that can generally be read only via a university library, or by paying for access).
The list is updated regularly. If you have any recommendations for journals that should be added here, for instance non-English language journals, mail Lucy Bennett at email@example.com.
Transformative Works and Cultures has published its twelfth issue, entirely devoted to boys’ love fandom around the globe (full press release). There are some excellent articles on Hetalia, the politics of BL in Germany, character bots on Twitter, BL in China, dojinshi, the origins of the word fujoshi, criticism from Japanese LGBT activists on BL, and more. We’ll be posting some short bits of analysis and good quotes from the articles in the upcoming weeks. Enjoy!
Transnational boys’ love fan studies, by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma
Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view, by Erika Junhui Yi
The possibilities of research on fujoshi in Japan, by Midori Suzuki
In other words, if we only cite from those blogs that understand themselves to be clearly in public space, we may ignore both the possibly less guarded (and thus more unmediated?) voices as well as those who do not have the comfort or privilege to push themselves into the public light of the attention economy. Balancing our research to respect those voices without exposing them unnecessarily is one of the central challenges of online researchers.
Fandom is always more complicated than the stories we tell about it, and scholars need to be careful not to create an imaginary feminist idyll. Simply inverting the gaze may keep subject/object relations unquestioned—a concern that has become especially important as queer and trans studies have complicated any naive feminist binaries that may have held sway during early years of media fandom. Likewise, as (authors writing in this issue) De Kosnik and Russo illustrate, an unequivocal embrace of noncommodified fan work remains problematic within a world that requires paying the bills.
The latest issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, “Transformative Works and Fan Activism,” is now available for your reading pleasure. There’s so much great content here to peruse, much of it offering context for ongoing debates among fan activists, many of which speak to still-unfolding current events. Just last week, for example, Andrea Horbinski and Alex Leavitt updated readers on the latest developments surrounding the Metropolitan Tokyo Youth Ordinance, whose implications they had explored at length in their article. The piece I first clicked on when I accessed the issue, however, was on an issue closer to my immediate context and long-term concerns: Jonathan Gray’s moving Symposium piece, “Of snowspeeders and Imperial Walkers: Fannish play at the Wisconsin protests.” This piece describes the morale-boosting role played by fannish signs and chants at protests, and argues for their incalculable contribution to the large-scale registering of political dissatisfaction.
The topic of activism is inherently emotional, which is part of why I think that its union with transformative works is so illuminating. Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova begin their editorial introduction to the issue with two quotations that speak to this point, one by Liesbet van Zoonen, from her book Entertaining the Citizen, and one from Stephen Duncombe’s own Symposium piece on More’s Utopia, and his own relationship to that concept, such as it has emerged in his own experiences with fandom and activism. There is a clear thread that ties each piece in this issue to the rest, as well as tying the issue as a whole to a long series of debates, online and off-, about those most seriously critical, and thus, seriously hopeful energies within fandom, and how these intersect with those same energies in activist movements, often within the same subjects. From my own standpoint in the Midwestern United States, no single recent event has filled me with as much hope, and then disappointed me so strongly, as the fannishly-inflected 2011 Wisconsin protests against Scott Walker and his union-busting legislation, which, sadly, did not in the end lead to his replacement.
That aside, I think that Gray’s piece archives much of what was exciting about the 2011 protests, which moved so many people, and were so misrepresented by the mainstream media, first by not being represented at all, and then, worse, being mischaracterized as “riots,” as Gray describes:
As the protests continued and as they drew national media attention, for many protesters, and for the organizers especially, it became important to ensure that the protests remained peaceful and upbeat, countering Fox News’ images. The fannish signs aided this mission, offering reasons to smile and laugh amidst the anger and angst, and often inspiring discussions between fellow fans.
Gray is, of course, careful not to reduce the protests to a momentary fannish community-building exercise, although he is just as careful not to subordinate fannish caontributions to countable actions such as petition signatures, absolutely. Instead he inhabits the ground of the short-form social archivist, who witnessed positive social and political actions bolstered by fannish energy and tactics, and wishes to record it alongside the ultimately disappointing political verdict on Walker.
Gray’s piece exemplifies what I love about the Symposium section of Transformative Works and Cultures. The author guidelines for the Symposium section read as follows:
Parallel to academia’s tradition of compact essays, often published as letters, fandom has its own vibrant history of criticism, some of which has been collected at the Symposium archive. In the spirit of this history, TWC’s Symposium is a section of concise, thematically contained essays. These short pieces provide insight into current developments and debates surrounding any topic related to fandom or transformative media and cultures. Symposium submissions undergo editorial review. (1,500–2,500 words)
And indeed, in just over 2000 words, as well as photographs of six different fannish signs seen at the Wisconsin protests, he articulates a material intersection of fandom and activism, and one that will likely ring true, both for those of us who anxiously followed the protests as they happened, and for those who take pleasure in memes well-executed. He fleshes out the experience of the protests with memorable details, some of which speak to us quickly and generally, like his description of the protests’ occurrence “in the middle of a characteristically long Wisconsin winter,” while other descriptions speak to perceptions specific to the fan activist’s worldview. I love the idea that, “when the Capitol Square was covered in snow, it seemed distinctly Hothlike,” because it’s that level of observation that invites the reader into the process of forging lasting connections between different spheres of her life.
From Gray’s piece, the reader might move on to Aswin Punathambekar’s essay, “On the ordinariness of participatory culture,” which offers a different national context for the intersection of fandom and activism, namely, the Indian context, as well as a different kind of activism, namely how, in response to Indian Idol 3, “people in the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya had cast aside decades-old separatist identities to mobilize support for Amit Paul, one of the finalists.” The issues at stake here are very different than those in Wisconsin, but Punathambekar’s argument in fact shares much with Gray’s, although he uses a slightly different critical vocabulary. Punathambekar summarizes his argument as such:
We need to develop accounts of participatory culture that take the sociable and everyday dimensions of participation in and around popular culture more seriously while remaining attuned to the possibility that such participation might, in rare instances, intersect with broader civic and political issues and movements. Using Indian Idol 3 as a case, I want to suggest that sociability should be as fundamental to our analyses of participatory culture as civic/political engagement.
Like Gray, Punathambekar argues that we should make sure to value those moments of sociability that are often subordinated to specific political activity, as they share much with the energy that is needed to enact large-scale change and, ultimately, to create better societies. Both authors’ arguments are at home in the Symposium section, because it is a space in which this subtlety of individual and social experience can be articulated, and preserved alongside more long-form academic analyses of phenomena within fandom.
We are actively seeking Symposium submissions for upcoming issues, and all readers of this post, this blog, Transformative Works and Cultures, and other sources of fandom analysis to consider submitting. Thank you!
Guest post by Tom Phillips and Lucy Bennett
As young researchers, we are frequently told to place an emphasis on networking. It is certainly true that making connections with others can help boost your career, whether in terms of finding a co-author for a research project, or simply knowing someone at an institution that will let you know of any vacancies.
In addition to the more traditional mode of meeting others at conferences, networking websites such as Academia.edu have also proved useful, giving an overview of scholars’ academic profiles.
However, what we felt was lacking in terms of having a relatively informal space in which to bounce around ideas. The “traditional” mailing lists are useful in terms of disseminating information, but creating a dialogue via these formats is often not welcomed – mailboxes can become full of conversations about subject matters considered irrelevant by some.
In creating the Fan Studies Network, we wanted to cultivate a space in which scholars of fandom could easily find others with the same research interests, and could also converse in a non-judgemental way. To this end, we are encouraging all those who sign up to the mailing list to introduce themselves and their research. This should have the effect of allowing a sense of community – all other subscribers know that only interested parties will be seeing their messages. It also allows people to talk about their research, and in the process hopefully make new contacts.
We welcome scholars to join the network by signing up to our Jiscmail mailing list: FanStudies@jiscmail.ac.uk. You can also visit our website, which features CFPs and events of interest at
fanstudies.wordpress.com, and our Twitter account @FanStudies.
With the assistance of the team members who help us run FSN – Bethan Jones (Cardiff University), Richard McCulloch (UEA), and Rebecca Williams (University of Glamorgan) – we aim to host an event within the next year.
As a project in its infancy, we would welcome any feedback or suggestions from blog readers.
One of the organizing concepts of the Symposium Blog is the intersection of academic and fannish modes of analysis. Sometimes, these converge in a single acafan (an identification I myself am perfectly comfortable with, as I spend equal portions of my time on my academic and fannish work), and other times, they refer rather to the possible terrain of an argument, a feeling of accountability to the very different, but equally intellectually exciting “rules of engagement” in the academic sphere and in fandom. The term “acafan” is controversial because, like “queer,” it is in flux, and has different meanings within and outside the academy, as well as within and outside fandom.
This summer, Henry Jenkins is hosting a series of conversations called “Acafandom and Beyond,” which bring together some of the “people from Game Studies, Critical Race Theory, Performance Studies, Queer Studies, and Gender Studies, who are confronting similar issues surrounding the role of subjectivity and cultural criticism,” which are at the heart of the acafan debates.
Now that fandom has finally gotten a momentary fair shake from the mainstream, I’d say that it’s high time to return to the complex questions that self-reflexive fans are so good at asking, like: the role of passion in serious debate, the importance of complex media engagement, and the intersections of various forms of privilege and taste. It is certainly not the case that one needs to be a practicing academic to engage, either. However, academics who form part of the critical sphere created by the media landscape, especially those who also value fannish as well as institutionalized methodologies, are uniquely equipped to have conversations that fascinate me.
Check it out! And feel free to join the conversation on the blog, or on the Dreamwidth mirror site.