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For the next round of posts, I’m going to focus on some of the ways fans described themselves in 2008. In order to get a sense of who was participating in the 2008 Fan Fiction survey, the participants were asked for some general demographic information. At the time, I wanted to get a sense of the mix of fans taking the survey. Now, I’d love to know what you make of this data.




2) gender and sexuality

The vast majority of fans participating in the survey (96%) identified as female. Many participants identified as heterosexual (68%), but a significant portion of participants (32%) identified as non-heterosexual, including the 23% of participants that identified themselves as bisexual. That’s roughly a third of participants identifying as something other than straight.

— From Fandom Then/Now: The Participants

I’ve got a few different things I’m wondering about this and I’d love to get your thoughts.
  • First, what do you make of this data? Is there anything else you think we should pay attention to here?
  • Also, how much does this match with your experience of fans and fandoms today?
  • Finally, how do you feel about surveys collecting this kind of information about fans? Do we need this kind of data? Is it useful?

Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
For the next round of posts, I’m going to focus on some of the ways fans described themselves in 2008. In order to get a sense of who was participating in the 2008 Fan Fiction survey, the participants were asked for some general demographic information. At the time, I wanted to get a sense of the mix of fans taking the survey. Now, I’d love to know what you make of this data.



1) ages

First, in 2008 the participants skewed younger. The survey was only open to participants 18 or older, but the vast majority of survey participants were under thirty years of age. These numbers may also imply that there is significant participation in fan culture from individuals younger than 18. However, since younger fans were excluded from participating, these fans and their reading practices are not represented by the 2008 survey results.

— From Fandom Then/Now: The Participants

What do you make of these numbers and the ranges of ages represented? Is there anything else you think we should pay attention to here?

Also, how much does this match with your experience of fans and fandoms today? Do you think most fans are 30 and under or have things changed?


Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

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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.

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The next area of the project I’d like to talk about are the participant demographics. This section of the project can be found here: The Participants.

To be honest, I’m ambivalent about the use of participant demographics in fan research. I’m not sure how helpful they are. What do you think? Do you think demographics are useful? What do you want people to think about when they’re looking at demographic data on fans? What advice would you give them? Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

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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.

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Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future.
“[In 2008] the commercial romance stories I read seemed to focus more on creating a series of linked stories set in one story world. For example, at the time J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series was very popular. In this series, the stories focus on one couple at a time, one book at a time. This ‘series’ more than 'serial’ approach seems to convey a stronger sense of stability and permanence to the relationship each book focuses on. Even if the characters appear again in a later story, their reappearance often takes the form of an update, rather than an entire revisiting of the relationship. The more serial works of fan fiction I read provided a significant contrast to this approach. Many of these stories returned again and again to the same set of protagonists, constantly building and rebuilding their relationship based on what challenges the source-text might throw at fan authors.”
— From Fandom Then/Now: Romance & Fan Fiction


What do you think? Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

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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.

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Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last round of posts I was focusing on things I noticed as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance. So far, I’ve touched on narrative arcs and world building and character relationship development (p1, p2). The last story elements I noticed were trends regarding seriality and narrative instability (p1).
Three: Seriality & Instability (p2)

Although the serial is seeing a rise in popularity in commercial romance today, this trend wasn’t as visible to me when I was reading popular commercial romances in 2008. At that time, the commercial romance stories I read seemed to focus more on creating a series of linked stories set in one story world. For example, at the time J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series was very popular. In this series, the stories focus on one couple at a time, one book at a time. This series more than serial approach seems to convey a stronger sense of stability and permanence to the relationship each book focuses on. Even if the characters appear again in a later story, their reappearance often takes the form of an update, rather than an entire revisiting of the relationship. The more serial works of fan fiction I read provided a significant contrast to this approach. Many of these stories returned again and again to the same set of protagonists, constantly building and rebuilding their relationship based on what challenges the source-text might throw at fan authors.

What’s your take on the different types of serial storytelling we see in commercial romance and fan fiction?
What do you think of my findings? 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.

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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.

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Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future.
“A work of fan fiction contributes to much a larger body of fan work, a network of stories being continually produced by fans. An individual story joins both this broader network of stories, as well as potentially being affected by a source-text that may still be developing its own version of the story. These larger networks of stories work together to reinforce the sense of a continually changing story-world, one always filled with the potential for new conflicts. Essentially, even if one individual work of fan fiction ends with a happy couple, there is always a layer of instability within a fandom’s larger story world. This deeply affects the sense of finality fan fiction readers may get from an individual story’s happy ending. It may also drive fan authors to keep revisiting characters and working to restore them to a moment of stability and happiness.”
— From Fandom Then/Now: Romance & Fan Fiction


What do you think? Comment at Fandom Then/Now or respond in the comments section below.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last round of posts I was focusing on things I noticed in 2008 as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance. So far, I’ve touched on narrative arcs and world building and character relationship development (p1, p2). The last story elements I noticed were trends regarding seriality and narrative instability.
Three: Seriality & Instability (p1)

In 2008, I noticed a heightened feeling of seriality in the popular works of fan fiction I read, particularly when compared to the popular romance novels I was comparing them to. Many of the works of fan fiction I read had sequels or were part of a larger series. Reading these stories, it felt as if the characters were part-way through a larger journey. This felt different from many of the commercial romances I was reading, which often stood alone and had a clear sense of closure at the end. This may be influenced by the medium itself. As I’ve already discussed, an individual work of fan fiction feeds off of a larger story-world that keeps changing. From season to season, a television show will introduce new plot developments or characters to challenge it’s protagonists. These changes continually introduce new obstacles for a fan writer to deal with. This environment may facilitate a greater sense of seriality within fan fiction.

However, as a reader I didn’t only experience this feeling of seriality when I read fan fiction from fandoms where the source-text was still being produced. Irregardless of the fandom, many of the fan fiction authors I was introduced to were working on extensive follow-ups to their initial stories. A work of fan fiction contributes to much a larger body of fan work, a network of stories being continually produced by fans. An individual story joins both this broader network of stories, as well as potentially being affected by a source-text that may still be developing its own version of the story. These larger networks of stories work together to reinforce the sense of a continually changing story-world, one always filled with the potential for new conflicts. Essentially, even if one individual work of fan fiction ends with a happy couple, there is always a layer of instability within a fandom’s larger story world. This deeply affects the sense of finality fan fiction readers may get from an individual story’s happy ending. It may also drive fan authors to keep revisiting characters and working to restore them to a moment of stability and happiness.

What do you think about this idea that fan fiction often tends to feel more serial? Do you notice anything like this when you read commercial or fan romances today? Does fan fiction feel any more serial to you today than it did in past years?
What do you think of my findings? 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.
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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.

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(Originally posted here.)

About the Project
Fandom Then/Now is an idea I've been sitting on for a while. When I completed my MA Thesis in 2008, I shared the final thesis project with individuals who asked to see it. However, I'd done a large survey as part of the thesis project and I really wanted to share the results with fans. At the time, I got the idea to put all my results online and open them up for fans to look at and give input on. I was getting ready to do start this in 2009 but then SurveyFail happened.

SurveyFail was incredibly unsettling to me. Roughly one year after I launched my 2008 project, here were these two individuals (Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam) calling their survey project the same exact name as my 2008 survey and using eerily similar methods to reach out to fans and request for fan participation. And yet, Ogas and Gaddam's motives, politics, and research ethics seemed to be completely contrary to my own.

At the time in 2009, my response was to duck and hide. I didn't want to give Ogas and Gaddam any publicity and I didn't want any research I'd done associated with them. The SurveyFail incident also made me particularly concerned about the ways research on fans is conducted. I felt strongly that research on fans and digital cultures is a process that must have more dialogue built into it. In October 2010 I presented "Fen Responses to Fan Research: Methods of Participation and Engagement" at the Midwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association's annual conference. In this paper I reflected on my 2008 survey project, the 2009 SurveyFail incident and called for fan researchers to design more participatory and conversational research projects. I hoped that this participatory approach would help to counterbalance some of the issues that internet/digital culture researchers were struggling with at the time.

Fandom Then/Now is an experiment. It's my way of testing out what a participatory and ongoing research project might look like. As a scholar, I begin any new project by building on my past experiences and research. That's where Fandom Then/Now begins. I'm starting with past work that has been integral to shaping my thoughts about fan fiction and romantic storytelling. Into this, I've woven in many of the questions and ideas that are driving my current research project (my dissertation).

I want to share these initial thoughts and ideas while I'm working on my dissertation. I'm hoping that fans will be able to add their own thoughts along the way and help to shape the research. My goal is for fans to participate not as research "subjects" or bits of data, but as peer reviewers.

About Me
I am Katherine Morrissey, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a PhD Candidate in Media, Cinema and Digital Studies in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). I also have a Master’s in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. My research focuses on production networks for popular culture, representations of female desire, and the ways that digital production is reorganizing romantic storytelling. My research is grounded in my experiences as a queer feminist, geek girl, and acafan. I have been actively participating in fan communities since 1996.

At RIT and UWM, I’ve taught courses on film, television, and digital media, writing, participatory culture, and romance genres across media. I also have professional experience in web and graphic design, as well as communications and marketing in the non-profit sector.

If you'd like to check out some of my research, you might be interested in the following:

"Fan/dom: People, Practices, and Networks." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 14, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2013.0532.

"Fifty Shades of Remix: The Intersecting Pleasures of Commercial & Fan Romances." Journal of Popular Romance Studies. 4.1. (2014) 1-17.

(Updated May 2015)

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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.
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I hope everyone is having a lovely spring!

As the spring semester winds down I'm getting ready to start up another round of fandomthennow posts. I'm going to jump back into sharing excerpts from the project 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.

First, I'm going to repost some important details/background information about the project, just to refresh everyone's memories.

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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.
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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.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
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 on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we're onto popular fandoms and stories. Last post we looked at the fandoms that were represented in the survey's most popular stories. Today, I want to talk a little about content.
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[see full chart here]

Generally, while dozens of fandoms are represented in these survey results, a heavy amount of reading consolidated around certain authors and works of fan fiction. There were several overwhelmingly popular stories and authors, many of stories written by authors who are prolific writers, often producing work in more than one fandom. The majority of popular stories (the pieces of fan fiction which participants identified as their favorites) were almost all focused on romantic relationships. Significantly, most of these stories featured slash pairings. This differed somewhat from the broader reading practices reported by fans (see the engagement section for more). When asked about their reading generally, most participants reported that they read a combination of het, slash, and gen stories, with a smaller group of readers expressing interest in femslash. While fans may be open to reading across pairing categories, the most popular individual stories, the ones readers identified as stories they return to and remember, generally included or focused entirely on male/male (m/m) romantic pairings.
What do you make of these results? Check out the full list of popular stories here and let me know what you see in these numbers. Is there anything I might have overlooked?

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.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
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 on& the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we're onto popular fandoms and stories. (This is a fun one. Check out these numbers!)
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Many of the favorite fandoms, stories, and authors from the survey will be of no surprise to those active in fan communities in 2008. Harry Potter, Stargate (SG1 and SGA), and Supernatural appear right at the top of the list. Take a look at the numbers, however. The Harry Potter fandom had about triple and Stargate double the amount of recommendations that other fandoms had. Clearly, these were two areas of very heavy reading activity during this time. Beyond the top six fandoms (Harry Potter, Stargate, Supernatural, Doctor Who, the Joss Whedon Buffy and Angel fandoms, and J.R.R. Tolkien fandoms) the reading numbers start to level off dramatically.

Generally, while dozens of fandoms are represented in these survey results, a heavy amount of reading consolidated around certain authors and works of fan fiction. There were several overwhelmingly popular stories and authors, many of stories written by authors who are prolific writers, often producing work in more than one fandom.

Do any of these numbers or fandoms from 2008 surprise you? If so, why? Do you notice anything else that's interesting here? Is there anything else you think I should consider?


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.

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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.

fandomthennow: (Default)
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 on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. Today, one last post about fan engagement/reading habits. Tomorrow, we're onto popular fandoms and stories.

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In the not-so-distant past, fan fiction about real people was a pretty controversial topic in media fandom. In 2008, 34% of the survey participants read some kind of real person fiction (RPF). The majority of participants (67%) said that they did not read stories about real people.

When this survey went out in 2008, many popular boybands were going on hiatus and the size of the celebrity-focused Popslash fandom had begun to decline. For a time however, Popslash was a large fandom with a heavy presence on LiveJournal. As popslash's popularity faded, a new music-celebrity related fandom, bandom. began to develop. Today, interest in real-person related fan fiction continues. There are fandoms for athletes, actors, musicians, news anchors, and more. While the ethics of writing and reading real-person fan fiction is still debated among some fans, the controversy it used to provoke seems to have faded.

Again, however, I'm basing this on what I've observed. As fans continue to spread out across different social media sites, perhaps there are webspaces where fans go to either find or avoid more controversial types of fan fiction. What do you think? Do you visit or avoid certain websites because of the types of fan fiction they make available? Are there types of stories today that are still taboo or has a more "live and let live" approach become the standard? Why? What might be fueling either the taboos or their reduction?
Read the full write up on fan engagement here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

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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.

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