Time to post! But I’m afraid that my brain is full of nothing but teacherly thoughts and I apologize for this. Once again, I am dwelling upon the challenge of bringing folks to acceptance of the fact that we are all fans. As some readers of this blog may remember, I set myself the task of teaching about fandom for the first time last semester. An entire course…but not a graduate or even upper level course. So there were limits to the depth of theorizing that could be accomplished.

Briefly put, there were times when I felt quite certain that I had made a mistake. I had endeavoured to get students to reason through things, to see what they have in common with those “other” people, the fans, the weird ones. I’m still not confident that I pulled it off. Some came in as fans and left as fans. Others…not so much.

But some amazing things happened towards the end of last semester. When I asked them to create a fanwork for their final project, there was love suddenly pouring out of them. Not all, of course. There were still a few resistant ones, but most of them astonished me. One girl painted a large, elaborate image based on the television show V. If I ever needed proof that every text has a fan community around it…!   Some kids made their first fanvids. Others did animations. One kid brought me a painted skateboard covered in images from his favourite bands.

In short, I was amazed by the degree of creativity and passion these kids could bring to a project. And it seemed to confirm what people like Henry Jenkins have been writing about participatory culture. He/they have been arguing that people, particularly youth, are increasingly accustomed to living their creative lives through media. Media are the matter and the tools that surround us, and we use them in the same way that someone generations ago would pick up a stick and whittle something out of it.

On the whole, I must say it was a rewarding experience. Well, it had better be, because tomorrow I begin teaching the same course again…to three more sections of 40 students each. I know one thing I have learned: keep the fanwork assignment, and make it earlier in the semester so these young fanlings can share and enjoy each other’s works!

[META] Teaching Fandom, Revisited
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One thought on “[META] Teaching Fandom, Revisited

  • 18/01/2012 at 18:04

    I love your examples of what they made. I forget now where I originally read this, but one thing about fan culture that makes it so fun and accessible is that it is totally an AMATEUR culture in all senses of the word.

    People somehow are freer to not compare their own work to all the professional, polished stuff they see on tv or in museums or hear on the radio.

    They can make their own art their own way; the fun not necessarily in the “objective quality” of it, but in the process, in the participation, in the, as you point out, the love.

    Thanks and good luck!

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