Fan studies is an interdisciplinary field, with scholars in disciplines ranging from cultural studies to law, from sociology to library science, all bringing their unique perspectives to bear on research about fans. As a result, fan studies is methodologically eclectic: approaches can include a combination of quantitative, qualitative, highly theoretical, practice-based, online, offline, archival, legal, textual, and/or community-centred methods, and this is far from an exhaustive list. This gives the field flexibility to address a huge variety of research questions while also posing challenges with regards to methodology selection and compatibility, different perspectives on rigour, as well as ethics and researcher positionality. The ways we do fan studies are as different, interesting, and challenging of academic norms as the things and people that we study.
The goal for this special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, therefore, is to set a common but varied ground for doing research as a fan studies scholar. While it is clear that fan studies does use specific methodologies, those methods aren’t always explicitly stated or considered (Evans and Stasi, 2014). We recognize the variety of disciplines that make up fan studies scholarship, and seek to express a common sense of ethics, practices, stances, without privileging one as ‘the’ methodology. Despite being interdisciplinary and methodologically eclectic, the tradition of scholarship in the model of Textual Poachers has shaped what we see as “fan studies” (Ford, 2014), though other approaches have also emerged, such as Chin and Hitchcock-Morimoto (2013) who argue for an affective definition of transcultural fans, and Reid (2009) who highlights the queer practices of non-normative fans and fandoms.
We seek submissions that address or challenge that shaping, and explore and theorize key methodological challenges and approaches within fan studies. We encourage articles that address not just the how-to of a method, but also why – theoretically, ethically, fannishly – that method is a good choice (or, perhaps, why it is not a good choice in some cases), and we particularly encourage articles that consider the ethical dimension as an essential and integral part of research methodology. We welcome submissions from scholars with experience within academia as well as those working outside academic institutions, and those who conduct research on fans while primarily identifying as fans rather than scholars.
Potential topics include but are not limited to:
- The dual positionality of those who study fans, as both fans and researchers (aka the “aca-fandom” question)
- The theory and practice of interdisciplinarity in fan studies
- Conducting research outside the support structures of academic institutions
- Negotiating disciplinary and institutional requirements with personal, fannish ethics
- Researching fans online and offline
- Practice-based research methodologies
- Feminist and other caring approaches to the relationship between researcher and researched in fan studies
- Quantitative and mixed methods approaches to fan studies
- The place of qualitative scholarship in fan studies
- Fan perspectives on fan studies methodologies
- Community building among fans and scholars
- Citational practices in fandom and fan studies
- Embedding intersectional practices in research methods
- The challenges/solutions to studying underrepresented fandoms, fans, and fannish phenomena
- The role of (mitigating) shame in fan studies methods
- “Bringing in” and “working out towards” adjacent fields, for instance Porn studies, Queer Studies, Critical Race Studies, etc.
We also welcome shorter pieces showcasing specific practical challenges, methods, and tools for the contemporary fan studies scholar.
- Chin, Bertha, and Lori Morimoto. “Towards a theory of transcultural fandom.”Participations 10, no. 1 (2013): 92–108.
- Evans, Adrienne, and Mafalda Stasi. “Desperately seeking methods: New directions in fan studies research.” Participations 11, no. 2 (2014): 4–23.
- Ford, Sam. “Fan studies: Grappling with an ‘Undisciplined’discipline.” Journal of Fandom Studies 2, no. 1 (2014): 53–71.
- Reid, Robin Anne. “Thrusts in the dark: slashers’ queer practices.” Extrapolation 50, no. 3 (2009): 463–483.
Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC, http://journal.transformativeworks.org/) is an international peer-reviewed online Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works copyrighted under a Creative Commons License. TWC aims to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics and to promote dialogue between the academic community and the fan community. TWC accommodates academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms that embrace the technical possibilities of the Web and test the limits of the genre of academic writing.
Theory: Conceptual essays. Peer review, 6,000–8,000 words.
Praxis: Case study essays. Peer review, 5,000–7,000 words.
Symposium: Short commentary. Editorial review, 1,500–2,500 words.
Please visit TWC’s Web site (http://journal.transformativeworks.org/) for complete submission guidelines, or e-mail the TWC Editor (editor AT transformativeworks.org).
Contact guest editors Julia Largent (@julialargent), Milena Popova (@elmyra), and Elise Vist (@visticuffs) with any questions or inquiries at FSMethodologies @ gmail.com. You are welcome to approach us on Twitter with informal inquiries.
January 1, 2019, for estimated March 15, 2020 publication.
Special issue CFP: Fan Studies Methodologies (1/1/19; 3/15/20)