Hi anon! Elizabeth here. So…Flourish and I are a bit confused by this, especially after the most recent episode, when I specifically talked about the work of a whole bunch of fan studies scholars at the FSN conference, including:
- Tom Phillips on women’s wrestling fandom
- Briony Hannell on SKAM and teenage female Muslim fans (I didn’t name Briony in the conversation, MY BAD, though we do in the show notes)
- Kathy Larsen on “Bundy erotic fanfic,” the political as fandom and fandom as political (this paper, like many of them, is in progress, so I’m not finding anything on it online with a quick search)
- Cecilia Almeida Rodrigues Lima on shipping/activism/representation re: Brazilian f/f telenovela couples (we’ll hopefully be having her on to talk about this further—as you know we’re very into this topic)
- Emily Roach on antifandom and tinhatting
Obviously since this episode was meant to be an overview of the whole conference, we couldn’t go into any of these in great detail (though as we mentioned, the conference was heavily tweeted, so following the link in the show notes will give you a fuller sense of their presentations through the many, many tweets).
But we’ve also had a number of scholars on who talked about their work in-depth, and that’s why I’m particularly confused about this ask. Some define themselves as a part of fan studies, and others do not, though all their work touches fandom in some way. Just for reference, that includes (and is possibly not limited to, if I’m forgetting anyone):
- Ebony Elizabeth Thomas on race and children’s literature
- Evan Hayles Gledhill on fans through history, in particular 19th century female fans
- Casey Fiesler on fans mourning online (this was for a specific topic—we’d like to have Casey back for a full ep to talk about all her other work)
- Ludi Price on how fans organize and tag information
- Rukmini Pande on race and fandom centering whiteness in shipping (Rukmini is another person we’ve had on to discuss specific topics and who we hope can join us again)
- Rukmini Pande and Lori Morimoto on shipping and activism
- Stephanie Burt on…a lot of things haha, but especially fan taste cultures and (how fans engage with) trans representation in media
- Lori Morimoto on transcultural fandom
Whenever we talk about “fan studies” as a whole, it’s true, there’s likely to be a bit of discipline talk—this is the nature of academia, in my experience, and yeah, sometimes in grad school I got frustrated that we spent so much time defining our field (which I’m sure I’ve mentioned on the podcast was possibly more amorphous and big-tenty than fan studies).
I think for the last episode in particular, you can understand why we’d be discussing the field itself, fresh from their annual conference. Our conversation with Lori also spent a good deal of time with the field itself, because Lori is doing a massive amount of work trying to get scholars and fans to talk to each other, which inherently is more about fan studies and fandom as whole units than any subset or focus.
But taking stock of the field and what it encompasses matters as much as the content of these scholars’ work, in my opinion. Who gets to study fans? What work counts as “fan studies”? As you can see from the last ep, this has very real consequences: when a conference is overwhelmingly white, for example, or weighted towards male speakers, what sorts of fan experiences are likely to be overlooked and under-discussed? It’s analogous to discussing patterns in whole fandoms or across fandoms—we might see a racist incident in one place, but there’s a massive amount of value in looking at this in the context of “fandom at large,” as spurious as that term might be haha.
If we misunderstood this ask, apologies! Please help us understand what you meant? But it’d be a shame to suggest that the scholars we’ve had on aren’t discussing their work…
I love how frequently you guys talk about fan studies (and to people who, er, study fans), but I’ve noticed that so much of your fan studies discussion was just… you guys talking about the CONCEPT OF fan studies, rather than actual fan studies. I would love to hear you guys dive a little deeper. What are some of these studies? What do they study? The discussion currently feels stale and superficial, and it’s frustrating for me as a listener.