Repetition and variation

I certainly do talk a lot about fanwork’s transformative quality, that’s why I found the below reminder welcome:

(…) in a transmedial perspective, fan fiction can be seen as one more instantiation contributing to building up a collectively imagined fictional world, and not as something in conflict.

Tosca, Susana 2021. Appropriating the Shinsegumi: Hakuoki Fan Fiction as Trnasmedial/Transcultural Exploration In: F. Gilardi F. (ed.), Lam C. (ed.) Transmedia in Asia and the Pacific, Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies

It is important to see how fanworks are a variation of the original work, but one should not abandon examining what it repeats, what it uses of the original work.

The pornography that censorship produces

These cases (of arresting authors for their writing) produced heated discussion both within the yaoi community and in the mainstream media campaogn to purge online pornography. They are concrete examples of the Foucaldian claim that censorship produces, rather than prohibits, media content.

Meijiadai Bai (2021): Regulation of pornography and criminalization
of BL readers and authors in contemporary China (2010–2019), Cultural Studies, DOI:

Real People as Derivations of the played characters

Earlier, I quoted Jonathan Gray and Anna Martin on how the basis of The Lord of the Rings Real Person Fandom is their connection to The Lord of the Rings fandom.

In the bonus material, (Gray) points out, the actors as presented as similar to their roles in the film (…). The behind-the-scenes narrative existed parallel to the fictional narrative of the trilogy, and, as Gray argues, it mirrored the narrative of the trilogy, both enriching and being enriched by it. (…) Certain parallels are used to pin these versions together at crucial points, as I will discuss later in this chapter. Many points in the behind-the-scenes documentaries are used to pin the film version to the books. The books, the films and the paratexts link together in various ways to form a complex intertext, an interrelated group of texts that enrich and layer each other in meaning.


Now, Cathy Yue Wang talks about a broader tradition of creating a transmedia story around certain characters or certain ships.

A more intriguing and creative subgroup has appeared, called “Lou/Cheng Derivation” (楼诚衍生). This refers to fan works which use characters from other media productions, who are played by the same actors who take the roles of Ming Lou (actor Jin Dong) and Ming Cheng (actor Wang Kai). (…) From the West, “Halric” presents a similar case, as part of the fandom of Thor/Loki and Chris Hemsworth/Tom Hiddleston – Hemsworth played Eric in the 2012 film Snow White and the Hunstman and Hiddleston played Prince Hal in The Hollow Crown TV series (2012). The creation and reception of this type of derivative coupling rely on sophisticated identification and recognition from both fan authors and fan readers. On one level, fans need to meld the performed character with the performing actor and this implicitly incline toward the controversial Real Person Slash. On a second level, it is also necessary for fans to project the image of the actor into the newly created fictional role, from a different media text. During this process, the boundaries between performer and performed, between actors and characters are radically blurrred. (…) The motivation behind the crossover coupling is the shared belief that the love and affection between two male characters , in this case, Ming Lou and Ming Cheng, is transmittable across several disparate media texts. In this sense, we can view this creativity from slash fans as a grassroots endevaor to produce a special kind of transmedia storytelling which is solely motivated by love – both the love between two characters, and the love received by these characters from the fan audience.

Wang C.Y., Hu T. 2021. Transmedia Storytelling in Mainland China: Interaction Between TV Drama and Fan Narratives in The Disguiser. In: Gilardi F., Lam C. (ed.) Transmedia in Asia and the Pacific. Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. 120-121.

In this way, there is definitely a subgroup of RPF that treats the Real People, the actors behind the characters as another derivation of the characters themselves. The transcendence of these stories, indeed proves love is universal – at least for a fan’s OTPs. But it is not that love is truly universal but that by layering these stories on each other, they create an experience of greater authenticity for the readers and creators.

It seems to me impossible to separate the emphasis throughout the DVD Appendices (of The Lord of The Rings) and behind-the-scenes documentaries on truth and authenticity from the focus in fandom on truth.


Real Person Space

It might be interesting to consider the space in which RPS usually takes place: any real person can be the object of RPF in theory, yet, it is usually the same space from where our favourite fictional worlds are produced.

This chapter argues that the actor-character resonance at the heart of this process of mythologisation of both the actor and the industry is the space from which RPF is produced.


If the space where work does not mean producing something for the money but creating is such a defining element then RPS about actors and other type of artists might have more in common with actor AUS than with RPS where the people are not famous for some kind of creative work.

What do you think? Where would you place sport RPS, is it also another kind of pastoral fantasy?

RPF as reading the body (of text)

The process of slashing a text is described by Jenkins as reading the body for clues of a relationship.

Here and in other such moments, characters retrace the steps of the fan viewers who have searched the performers’ bodies for suggestions of these same unexpressed feelings.


We see that in stories, this practice of reading the text and even reading the body for these clues can be mirrored in the narrative where the characters recognise the same feelings the viewer does. Martin observes the same mirroring in how RPF fans read the stars’ body and their texts. They say about a fanfiction that deals with an editor discovering that Viggo Mortensen’s poem are about Orlando Bloom and Orlando Bloom after reading the collection, confronting Viggo Mortensen:

This story is particularly interesting because the narrative reflets the experience of the fan reading the poems (of Viggo Mortensen). David, the editor, can see which poems are about Orlando without having to ask. Upon reading the poems, the meaning is clear to Orlando himself.


Fans adapt a practice of reading for clues, hidden narratives and that can lead RPF, too. Have you observed the same similarity, too?

New survey alert!

This is the summer of surveys! This one is from Emily Faulkner, an MSc student at Robert Gordon University. Emily is studying information-seeking behaviours of fanfiction communities and their applicability to libraries for their grad dissertation! The survey is open to adults who read and/or write fanfiction content (fan comics and podfics included) and details are below.


How long: About 30 mins depending on your fanfic sites 

Closes: August 2nd, 2021 noon EST

Go forth!

Call for Survey Participants (REVISED)

Hi folks!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a call for participants from a researcher conducting a study out of Bellevue College, and we just got word that the survey deadline has been extended, so we’re passing that along! As a refresh: the study is about sociolinguistics in online fandom, and really digs into how individuals personally define various fannish terms. There’s a particular focus on shipping and antis, and a portion of the survey is optional and uses trigger warnings for potentially upsetting content around antis and anti discourse.

The number of survey questions vary depending on your answers. People have finished in around 20-30mins, and some have really dug into the optional, long-form questions and have taken an hour! We figure around 30-45mins is a good estimate for length.

The survey was set to close on Jun 25th, but has been extended to September 16th. Go go go!

Survey link:
Project FAQ:

Call for Survey Participants

Interested in online sociolinguistics in fandom? Then have we got the survey for you! We were contacted by a researcher at Bellevue College, who asked about boosting their study, so we’re passing this along. The study is about sociolinguistics in online fandom, and really digs into how individuals personally define various fannish terms. There’s a particular focus on shipping and antis, and a portion of the survey is optional and uses trigger warnings for potentially upsetting content around antis and anti discourse.

The number of survey questions vary depending on your answers. People have finished in around 20-30mins, and some have really dug into the optional, long-form questions and have taken an hour! We figure around 30-45mins is a good estimate for length.

The survey closes on June 25th, so go take it before the month is out 🙂 We’re really interested to see the results of this one… fan sociolinguistics are always so interesting, especially with a topic like this one!

Survey link:
Project FAQ:

Queering by repetition in fandom

Common fan fiction scenarios such as hurt/comfort and first-time perform cultural work that has been worked on before—be that negotiating discursive linkages between masculinity and violence, or appropriate expressions of intimacy between individuals of the same sex. In (the fanfic analysed in this paper), each scenario performs an explicit and formal queering of the canon text by drawing oblique lines of directionality. This opens up the narrative in ways that encourage—even proselytize—multiplicity by transforming moments of animosity and violence into opportunities for emotional and sexual intimacy. The result is a queering of gender norms, heteronormativity, and the very clear black and white distinctions of morality that serve as the foundation for the Harry Potter epic.

Hampton, Darlene Rose. 2015. “Bound Princes and Monogamy Warnings: Harry Potter, Slash, and Queer Performance in LiveJournal Communities.” In “Performance and Performativity in Fandom,” edited by Lucy Bennett and Paul J. Booth, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 18.

Fan Studies x Digital Humanities: Part 1

So, a little bit of a different post today! Fanhackers will always be about making Fan Studies scholarship more accessible, but Fan Studies encompasses a whole lot of other methodologies and disciplines. This post will be the first of a three-part series on the Digital Humanities as a discipline, and how it relates to Fan Studies scholarship.

Because Fan Studies doesn’t really exist as a single department in a university, scholars with backgrounds from other disciplines like English, Communications, Cultural Studies, Media Studies and even the Sciences all do Fan Studies research. Part of the reason for this is that Fan Studies as its own thing is really new: our earliest scholarship is from the late 80s/early 90s! If you look at the history of Western fandom, this makes a lot of sense: Fan Studies began as a Western discipline whose work focused on Western media fandom, and around this time period, Western fans started to seriously use the internet.

The reason I’ve glossed over all of this is because Digital Humanities (DH) kind of has the same history: it’s really new and encompasses a whole lot of scholars from other disciplines. This post is going to give a really quick run-down on what DH is, and how it relates to Fan Studies. I’ll follow it up with a post on DH & Fan Studies Projects and DH & Fan Studies Ethics next week the week after!

Digital Humanities came out of counterculture-cyberculture of the 60s and 70s, so it’s really based in the values of that movement. Mainly, DH scholarship is all about accessibility: DH wants to take scholarship out of the ivory tower and share it with everyone, so it aims to be free, easy to access, and use simple language to explain the big concepts it talks about. Because of this, DH is all about:

  • DH is qualitative (like English) and quantitative (like Math)! It spans a whole bunch of different methods and processes for collecting and analyzing data.
  • Working together as a way of creating better, more rounded work: co-creation and collaboration! This could be in a class, a department, or even different universities.
  • Defending content-creators from exploitation but placing serious value on transformative works. For DH, the more scholarship, the better, and transforming other works is a great way to get a different perspective and encourage creativity.
  • Encourages scholarship as entertainment, and entertainment as scholarship. A DH scholar will give as much attention to a piece of fic as a short story or a novel and will have no problem presenting their work in a video or interactive website. They want a big audience, so the easier it is to understand, and the more interesting it is to the general public, the better!
  • The way you go about doing your research is more important than your results and conclusion. For DH, the process is really what matters, because that’s the thing that is constantly being refined and redefined by DH scholars.
  • Because of all this, action is what’s really important. Buzzwords like “diversity”, “intersectionality” and “accessibility” are empty unless there’s a real change in the way people carry out their research and present their findings!

Already, we can see some really clear parallels with Fan Studies, here. Firstly, there’s both quantitative and qualitative Fan Studies research, and the discipline was built on defending fans—from piracy to how we’d been portrayed in audience studies. People like John Fiske and Dallas Smythe argued that audiences are not actually mindless zombies that just eat up anything put in front of them, and in doing so, laid the ground work for others like Camille Bacon-Smith, Joli Jensen and Matt Smith to argue that fans are actually super sophisticated and smart.

So clearly, Fan Studies is built on the idea of entertainment as scholarship, even though our projects might not always be super accessible to the general public—which is also where Fanhackers comes in! In terms of actually being to access content, though, Fan Studies allowing free downloads is also generally really important to Fan Studies scholars. Even though the Journal of Fan Studies is really hard to access—many universities don’t even have a subscription to the journal—the OTW’s Transformative Works and Cultures is totally free to access and is generally really great about using accessible language.

The different waves of Fan Studies scholarship also seem to prioritize process over the end result: the first wave, which I mentioned above, is all about proving fans make up a complex community, whereas the second wave really drilled down into individual fan identity. We’re technically in the third wave, where scholarship tends to focus on how industry and fans interact, but are also edging forward into important scholarship surrounding racism in fandom, how fans of colour embody fannishness and other research that relies heavily on critical race studies (a fourth wave!).

All of this points to there being some really serious intersections between DH and Fan Studies, which makes a whole lot of sense: both are new and both have kind of the same core values. More importantly, though, the Digital Humanities is all about using digital technology to accomplish its goals, and Fan Studies is research of primarily online communities. Both disciplines feature digital tech, and though it might seem like this is not something they have in common, next week we’ll see concrete examples of how Fan Studies research is sometimes also Digital Humanities research!

For now, here’s a little reading list in case you want to know more about DH or the history of Fan Studies: