Perhaps only a fan can appreciate the depth of feeling, the gratifications, the importance for coping with everyday life that fandom represents. Yet we are all fans of something. We respect, admire, desire. We distinguish and form commitments. By endeavoring to understand the fan impulse, we ultimately move towards a greater understanding of ourselves.

Lisa A. Lewis, The adoring Audience

Continuing our series on the classics of fan studies, today we’re having a look at The Adoring Audience which was edited by Lisa A. Lewis in 1992. As we’ve seen before, 1992 was a very important year for the emergence of fan studies with the publication of Textual Poachers and Enterprising Women. Just like these two books, The Adoring Audience helped pave the way for the growth of fan studies as an academic discipline. 

Lewis’ work is a collection of contributions from various scholars written with the goal of breaking away from the stereotypes that surrounded fans and fandom at the time and painting a more accurate portrayal of fan culture.

Personally, I really enjoy John Fiske’s chapter about the cultural economy of fandom which demonstrates that fans are producers as well as consumers and that the texts they produce “are often crafted with production values as high as any in the official culture”. 

Though the research in The Adoring Audience can feel a bit dated at times, it is still worth a look in order to understand the workings of fandom before the internet took over and drastically impacted fan culture as a whole.

The Classics of Fan Studies: Lisa A. Lewis – The Adoring Audience