(no subject)

Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last two posts I’ve been talking about some of the different tendencies I’ve noticed between relationship-focused fan fiction and romance novels. Now I want to talk a little more about some of the overlap.

“As transformative work, fan writing always, in a sense, begins in the middle of a relationship, a conflict, or a world. Even in fan fiction where the story depicts characters meeting for the first time, those characters have a pre-existing relationship in the source-text and in the minds of readers.

Within commercial romance, a similar process occurs. In commercial romance, genre archetypes also serve as pre-existing types of characters and worlds for an individual story to build on. As with all literary genres, each romantic hero or heroine’s story leans a little on the ones that came before it. Like fan fiction, commercial romance sub-genres are also organized around common story-worlds and motifs (the regency, the paranormal, the contemporary western, etc.). Both commercial and fan authors rework these archetypes and storytelling traditions, contributing their own ideas about romantic conflict and their individual voices into these larger connected pools of stories. In this way, both styles of writing engage in the practice of remixing and transforming pre-existing work.”

— From Fandom Then/Now: Romance & Fan Fiction


What do you think? Do you buy the idea that the production process for commercial romance has such similar properties to the production of fan fiction/transformative work? Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

generic tendencies #2: character & relationship development (part 2!)

Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last two posts I’ve been talking about some of the different tendencies I’ve noticed between fan fiction and romance novels. Now I want to talk a little more about some of the overlap.

Here are a few core tendencies I noticed as I read:

Two: Character & Relationship Development (continued…)

Commercial and fan romances both play with different types of encounters and different levels of dramatic tension. [While a charged first meeting may be more common in commercial romance,] many works of fan fiction also rewind back to a first meeting and re-develop the protagonists’ relationship from the beginning.In particular, alternative universe stories often require more traditional romance elements to introduce the characters to each other, develop the new story-world, build conflict, etc. There are also many commercial romances where two characters simply meet again after years apart or learn to see each other in a new way. Today, as the serial becomes increasingly popular with romance readers, many popular romance serials return again and again to the same set of characters and story world, similarly building on pre-existing worlds and characters.

Ultimately, these [examples of similarities], coupled with the serial’s rising popularity across media, underscore the links between fan fiction and commercial romance as two modes of writing particularly interested in exploring romance, partnership, and sexual attraction.


What do you think of my findings? Do you notice this overlap between relationship-focused fan fiction and commercial romance too? Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

generic tendencies #2: character & relationship development

Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my past few posts I've asked what similarities/differences you see between commercial romance and fan fiction. Now, I'm going to start talking through the things that I noticed in 2008 as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance.

[With] fan and commercial romance authors producing so many stories each month, it is not possible to definitively map out either writing space. Instead, I decided to think about these things as tendencies within each zone of production, rather than story elements that “define” either commercial romance or fan fiction… These patterns help us better understand the role that production environment can play in the construction of erotic and romantic stories, as well as how production environments organize different communities of readers.

Here are a few core tendencies I noticed as I read:

Two: Character & Relationship Development

In [fan fictions] approach to character and relationship development, attraction often emerges out of an existing partnership rather than hitting like a bolt of lightning at the first meeting. This, in turn, opens up the possibility of shifting some of the emotional intensity of the story from one aspect of the narrative (the meeting) onto other kinds of interactions. Preexisting characters and story-worlds may also impact the ways that romantic or sexual tension is established. By shifting away from that charged first meeting and with the characters already acquainted, the author potentially needs to spend less time introducing the characters to each other and rapidly escalating their relationship.

I hesitate to go so far as to call one approach more realistic than the other. It's hard to think of Hogwarts, Atlantis or Mordor as particularly realistic settings. However, this shift away from a charged meeting may lend itself to different narrative foundations for relationships. It may also allow authors to experiment with different and potentially more mundane relationship conflicts. (For example, 'You didn't pay the electric bill!' versus 'You were kidnapped by werewolves!'.) This leads me to suspect that both the preexisting relationships/storyworlds fan fiction is typically built on and the prevalence of stand-alone stories within commercial romances are facilitating some of the variations between these two storytelling forms.


What do you think of my findings? Do you notice relationship-focused fan fiction using different types of narrative conflict or developing tension differently than a classic romance novel might? Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

generic tendencies: narrative arcs and world building

Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my past few posts I've asked what similarities/differences you see between commercial romance and fan fiction. Now, I'm going to start talking through the things that I noticed in 2008 as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance.

[With] fan and commercial romance authors producing so many stories each month, it is not possible to definitively map out either writing space. Instead, I decided to think about these things as tendencies within each zone of production, rather than story elements that "define" either commercial romance or fan fiction... These patterns help us better understand the role that production environment can play in the construction of erotic and romantic stories, as well as how production environments organize different communities of readers.

Here are a few core tendencies I noticed as I read:

One: Narrative Arcs & World Building

By its very nature, fan fiction is part of a larger story-world. It is explicitly intertextual. Fan fiction builds on a source-text which has already done its own world-building and character development. In this source-text, narrative events are already unfolding and characters typically have some preexisting relationship with each other. Whether they are friends, coworkers, or enemies, the characters are already generally acquainted. Given this, it is common for works of romantic fan fiction to build romance/sexual attraction into a preexisting relationship. Through the course of the narrative, the two protagonists move from an already established relationship (friendship, enmity, professional, etc.) towards a more sexual and/or romantic one.

This pre-existing story-world lends itself to a different narrative starting point than many popular romance novels. In romance novels, the start of the story is often marked by a highly charged first encounter between the two main characters. This moment is incredibly important. In her definition of romance, Pamela Regis identifies this as "the meeting," one of eight narrative elements typically found in romance novels (Regis 2007). In a romance novel, rather than the narrative building on a pre-existing relationship, the protagonists are often encountering each other for the first time. Attraction hits hard. The characters are often instantly drawn to each other physically and feel compelled to protect or be near the other person. However, at this early point in the narrative, the characters may not understand why they feel this way or feel that it is possible to act on their feelings. To come together as a couple, the protagonists often need to work through significant internal or social barriers preventing their relationship (Regis 2007). Slowly, over the course of the story, the reality that they have found a life-partner begins to reveal itself and, importantly, the social and/or emotional obstacles keeping them from each other are overcome.


What do you think of my findings? Have you noticed this difference too? Also, does this seem like a narrative tendency that continues today? Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond in the comments section below.


--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

(no subject)

Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction's past and future. This week the posts are focusing on romance and fan fiction.
In 2008, when I was working on my MA thesis, I tended to see more differences than similarities between fan fiction and commercial romance. Over the course of the project, however, my views began to change. The fan fiction stories survey participants loved focused more often on same-sex relationships, but there were also many heterosexual romances represented among the fan favorites. Just like commercial romances, sometimes the fan fiction stories were pretty explicit, sometimes they were more sweet. While I noticed some different storytelling tropes appearing more in one mode than the other (more on this here), given the breadth of fan fiction and commercial romance available to readers it wasn't easy to draw firm lines between either modes of writing.
Do you think there are differences between commercial romance novels and pairing-focused fan fiction? If you think there are differences, what are they? Or, do you think fan fiction can be a kind of romantic storytelling? What similarities do you see?

Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

aaaaand, we're back!

Apologies for going quiet for the past few weeks. I needed to pause for a moment or two in order to pack, move, start a new teaching position, prep classes for the fall semester... all the fun stuff that happens in August. :)

I'm going to jump back into posting excerpts from the project website now. We're about halfway through the overall website. As in the past, these posts will be made on Tumblr, Twitter, LiveJournal, and Dreamwidth. Please feel free to comment, reblog, and share in any of those spaces.

Also, this would be a great time to ask you if you'd like to ask some questions too! Are there any issues related to the Fandom Then/Now project that you are curious about? Anything you would like to hear from other fan fiction readers/writers about?

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

fan fiction and romance reading

Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. Please consider commenting below or posting on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week I’ll be focusing on romance and fan fiction.


In 2008, most of the fan fiction read by survey participants was romantic (77%). However, this interest in romantic stories did not seem to cross over into commercial/print romances. Only 31% of the survey participants said that they also read romance novels. When asked what they tended to read more (fan fiction or commercial romance novels), survey participants also overwhelmingly identified themselves as readers of fan fiction more than readers of romance novels (86%).
Let’s talk about fan fiction and romance a little more. Do you think of the fan fiction you read as romantic? Why or why not? In addition to your fic reading, do you also read commercial romance novels? Why or why not?

Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

(no subject)



This table identifies the 20 most popular fandoms identified by fans in a 2008 survey. What do you notice here? Any particular fandoms, stories or authors surprise you? Anything unsurprising?

I also have concerns about this way of organizing fan fiction. Read more via the links below and let me know what you think:Read the full write up on popular fandoms and stories here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

problem area: can organizing fan activities by fandoms be a problem?

Over the next few weeks I'll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I'll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I'll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or posting on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we're onto popular fandoms and stories.

In the past few posts I've been talking about popular stories from the 2008 survey and the fandoms they were connected to. Today, I want to continue discussing some issues I had when I began compiling popular stories by individual fandoms.
[This post picks right up on my previous one which you can read here.]

[My previous post] gets at an issue I struggle with in Fan Studies and part of the reason why my research is interested in looking beyond individual fandoms themselves and looking instead at the romantic and thematic connections in fan fiction. When talking about fans and fan practices, we often use a show, film, game, or franchise as the label for fans. (And, of course, fans self-identify in this way as well.) However, when we do this we are prioritizing the product in how we organize and conceptualize fan activities. This has the effect of positioning consumption as the organizing principle for fan culture. A move which may limit our view of fan networks.

This model seems to become particularly strained when it comes to certain forms of fan fiction. What the 2008 survey results tell me is that while many fans use fandom titles as a keyterm they can tag content with, input into user profiles, and search databases for, fans do not cohesively and harmoniously organize themselves within these clusters. Some fans of Supernatural may read slash, gen, het, and RPS fic interchangeably, but many of them stick to the story category they are most interested in instead. Indeed, fans of one type of story may have no interest at all in other types of stories within that fandom.

More than half of the 2008 survey respondents were participating in multiple fandoms at a time. This raises the possibility that many fans are seeking out various types of stories across multiple fandoms. Each time we identify one of these "multi-fannish" fans as solely a Harry Potter fan, a Doctor Who fan, etc. we're framing the fan experience in a way that a) risks distorting how certain individuals are participating in fan cultures and b) leaves us blind to the broader and highly complex networks connecting fans to each other and to fan works.

Since fans often rely on their social networks to help them find new stories, many fans' social networks are built around broader cross-fandom interests, in addition to any preferences specific to a single fandom. In terms of a fan's overall experience, the "-dom" in fandom may be far less tied to a media product/franchise and far more tied to a character archetype, a kind of relationship, a mode of content, etc. Clearly, slash is one example of this broader view of fan culture, one that fans are well aware of. Slash has long operated as both a pairing category within individual fandoms and a larger interest area organizing fans socially across fandoms. But, here's where this might get more complicated: Slash fans have had sense of a larger group identity for some time, but slash itself has experienced a great deal of stigma over the years. It is a reading category that, until recently, was harder to find in commercial literature. These are some of the many reasons why being a "slasher" might carry a stronger sense of cross-fandom group identity in ways that other reading interests do not.
What do you think about fandom labels? Do you prefer to identify your interests by
fandom? Pairing? Favorite character? Do you find yourself sticking to one fandom at a time or do you seem to seek out similar types of stories, characters, or relationship dynamics across fandoms?

Read the full write up on popular fandoms and stories here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.

problem area: what makes up a fandom?

Over the next few weeks I'll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I'll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I'll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or posting on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we're onto popular fandoms and stories.

In the past few posts I've been talking about popular stories from the 2008 survey and the fandoms they were connected to. Today, I want to bring up an issue I had when I began compiling popular stories by individual fandoms.


image
[larger version of image]

Tallying the Supernatural recommendations was a challenge and this set a precedent for how different fandoms and sub-fandoms are organized within the survey results. Participants used a variety of key terms to identify their fandoms. For example, terms like "Supernatural," "Supernatural RPS," and "CW RPS" were all used interchangeably on the same stories. A similar pattern occurred with fan fiction related to J.R.R. Tolkien, various Joss Whedon shows, Queer as Folk, and the many celebrities/musical groups associated with Bandom.

As much as possible, the categories I've used to organize stories here follow the lead of the survey participants. If fans saw these stories intersecting as part of a larger fandom, the categories have been merged accordingly. This has the curious effect of linking readers who may not want to be connected. For example, in the case of Supernatural fans, different reading interests now overlap under the umbrella of "supernatural fandom." The actual readers of these different sub-categories may not want to be associated. In the Supernatural fandom, some fans enjoy stories about the show's two lead characters being in a relationship together (Dean/Sam or Wincest). However, since these two men are brothers, Sam/Dean is a reading category that not all Supernatural fans are comfortable with.

Clumping all Supernatural-related fan fiction together under the umbrella of one fandom combines readers of gen fan fiction along with the readers of Sam/Dean, heterosexual romances involving Sam and/or Dean, as well as mixing in readers of real person fiction focused on the actors (i.e. J2 or CWRPS). Clustering these different reading interests together and identifying them as one unified fandom (in this case, Supernatural) may create links between fans who do not actually share the same reading interests. It's possible the same phenomena is occurring in many of the various fandoms listed here.


If you were sorting the data, how would you have organized the fandoms? Do you object to these sub-groups or sub-genres of fan fiction being connected together as a single fandom? Should the fandoms be separated out into more specific clusters? Or, do you see these more specific collections of stories as part of one larger fandom?

Read the full write up on popular fandoms and stories here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

--
Comments on this post are not screened/hidden by default. Others will be able to see them. Please remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.