Today, I’m going to talk about a book that I always recommend to people who want to discover fan studies: Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet which is a collection of essays around fandoms edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse. One of them about fanfiction as theatrical performance was even written by our very own Francesca Coppa!
Each essay in this book can help us understand more about the inner workings of fan communities at a time when LiveJournal was at the height of its popularity and people gathered to talk about Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the early seasons of Supernatural. As someone who has always been interested in the reasons why fans turn to specific pairings, I particularly enjoy Elizabeth Woledge’s Intimatopia. It deals with the importance of homosocial relationships (social bonds between same-sex people) as a basis for slash stories. Using the example of Kirk/Spock, she explains that fans tend to focus on pairings that come from “a media source that already emphasizes homosocial bonds through the depiction of the loyalty between two men who live and work in a more or less homosocial community” (97).
If you’re interested in fan studies in general, I also recommend reading the introduction which gives a great overview of fandom at the time as well as the evolution of the discipline with a description of what came before and how the direction it was taking at the time. Busse and Hellekson also make some great points about the advantages of studying fandom when you are a fan yourself.
Have you come across this book before? If so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!