FSNNA20 Call for Salon Participants

NOT SURE WHAT A SALON IS? Have a look at our overview here.

Below you will find the Calls for Participants for each of the accepted salons. If you would like to apply to participate in one, please proceed to the application window here to continue. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday, August 25, 2020, and you may propose something for a panel even if you have been accepted in another capacity for the conference.

(if you are a Salon organizer and you find any mistakes below, please let us know at fsnna.conference [at] gmails [dot] com)

Embodied Fan Identities and Practices (Suzanne Scott)

This salon will explore how we make sense of embodied fan identities in real-world spaces. These analyses of embodied fandom, broadly conceived, should be placed in direct conversation with how lived identity markers such as race, age, ability, size, gender or gender presentation, sexuality, and nationality shape the fan experience and/or interact with hegemonic understandings of “fan identity.” The goal of this salon is to explore to what degree our understanding of the phenomenological or affective experience of “fan identity” manifests in and/or is or performed through various embodied fan performances and practices. Possible topics of conversation might include:

  • fannish sartorial expression in public spaces
  • cosplaying fictional characters at fan conventions
  • activism surrounding normative expectations of fan identities and/or bodies
  • theorizations of fan experiences of affect and desire
  • embodied fan expression post-covid (fannish face masks, political modes of fan expression, etc
  • issues with studying digitally remediated modes of bodily fan expression

Of particular interest are proposals that actively engage how to best mitigate presumptions we make about lived fan bodies or embodied fan practices in our work, or grapple with the unique methodological and ethical challenges that accompany the study or theorization of embodied fan identities and practices (as it relates to instances of “everyday” or more mundane forms of bodily fan expression outside of clearly demarcated fan spaces such as conventions or theme parks).

Sports Pandemic: The Ethics and Possibilities of Sports Fandom During Times of Crisis (Noah Cohan)

What does it mean to be a sports fan during a global pandemic? During times of urgency and unrest over social injustice? As fans, what is our responsibility to athletes? To each other? In this salon, we seek discussants who will weigh in on the ethics of sports fandom during a time when athletes’ health and well-being—always precarious and subject to the biopolitical control of capitalist enterprises—is further endangered by COVID-19 and the necessary bodily proximity of athletic competitions themselves. Furthermore, at a time when such capitalist enterprises have embraced “Black Lives Matter” as a corporate mantra to be plastered on jerseys, how can we best support athletes working actively for social change? In addition, we seek salon participants who consider the possibilities that this time of crisis presents for reshaping the world of sports and sports fandom. How might we transition to a mode of sports narrative consumption that better empowers athletes to improve their labor conditions, particularly at the collegiate level? How might we reformulate our conversations about looming medical crises like the concussion crisis in football in light of the epidemiological understanding of athletic precarity induced by the pandemic? Can we develop a more ethical way of participating in the sports industrial complex, or might we, in some small way, contribute to tearing it down? Finally, we encourage participation from those interested in the ways in which sports fandom has been fundamentally transformed by the absence of fans physical presence at sports stadiums and arenas. What does it mean to access sporting competition only in mediated spaces? What can this moment tell us about future developments for sports spectatorship and fandom?

Fandom at Home: How COVID-19 Adjusted Perception and Participation (Caleb George Hubbard and Kyle A. Hammonds)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a great deal of change, including forcing large social events (e.g. movies, sports events, concerts) to temporarily close or postpone. Many people self-quarantined in compliance with CDC guidelines. During this time, many digital programs were created for people to enjoy from their own homes.  Such programs have facilitated the transitioning of various fandoms from public to private spaces. This salon investigates fandom at home and how COVID-19 has influenced the way[s] fandom is perceived and experienced. 

The facilitators invite contributions from participants regarding the experience of moving public fandoms to private spaces. Topics should aim to focus on adaptations of fan-to-fan interactions or ways that pop culture producers have adjusted texts and performances in response to COVID-19. Any relevant topic within the scope of the prompt will be considered; the following items provide clear examples of germane discussion topics: 

  • Disney’s #AloneTogether Sing-a-long
  • Trolls: World Tour on-demand release
  • The Voice filming from homes
  • Sesame Street Playdate
  • Amy Schumer Learns to Cook 
  • Garth Brook and Trisha Yearwood’s live at home concert
  • Cancellation of NFL preseason 
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Show Must Go On 
  • Adjustments in consumer habits regarding comic retail or other intersections of pop culture and small business 
  • Entertainers, artists, and the essential-ness of the arts in coping with isolation 

We welcome rigorous conversation on fandom adaptations from an array of philosophical perspectives. Contributors are invited to submit abstracts of approximately 200 – 300 words summarizing their anticipated talking points. Abstract content should especially emphasize the fandom[s] to be discussed and a warrant connecting the proposal to the framework of the prompt. 

The Future of Dis/ability Fan Studies (Olivia Riley and Leah Steuer)

As critical disability studies evolve, fan and audience studies have begun to engage with conversations around fandom and disability. We have seen a recent increase in scholarship particularly around embodied experiences of dis/ability, focusing around limited or frustrated access to fan spaces and modes of engagement such as cosplay, pilgrimage, and performance. We encourage intersectional approaches, ideally integrating multiple vertices of identity such as gender, race, sexual orientation, class, and more. Further, dis/ability as a material experience and identity operates within a larger ideological framework of ability and ableism–we welcome explorations of how ideologies of dis/ability operate in fan spaces, works, communities, etc. Participants may approach this prompt from interdisciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to sound studies, literary studies, geography, computer science, and/or philosophy. This salon calls for a deepening of those conversations: we ask participants to consider the ways fan studies has historically dealt with the identities and experiences of differently abled audiences, but also to consider how we might extend our theoretical and methodological scope to encompass the diversity of dis/ability within fandom.

  • How does dis/ability operate in different mainstream and fan-produced mediums (sound, image, text, etc.) and how do fans with various dis/abilities engage with these portrayals and ideologies?
  • How do mental disability, mental illness, and neurodiversity interact with politics of inclusion and exclusion for fans within virtual and material spaces? 
  • How does “temporal abled-ness” (chronic illness, episodes, flare-ups, progressive conditions) impact participation in physical spaces such as conventions or digital spaces such as fanworks exchanges?
  • How do corporate and/or fan-maintained platforms, archives, and interfaces affect access?
  • How can we expand our understanding of “access” beyond the removal of barriers to emphasize actively welcoming and supporting disabled fans? (e.g. not just technical but cultural accessibility?)

Fan-Made Histories (Philipp Dominik Keidl and Abby Waysdorf)

Fans demonstrate a broad interest in the past, both of their objects of fandom and of their own communities. They collect, catalog, preserve, restore, and publicly display historical artifacts and information in their own archives and museums. They study archival materials and collections, interview witnesses, and read historical scholarship, developing historical narratives and theses. Their research materializes in the form of analog and digital nonfiction media such as print and online publications, documentaries, podcasts, video tutorials, and pedagogical initiatives. Through their work, fans historicize their own fandom and tie it into broader historical questions, connecting to issues like heritage, race, sexuality, gender, and the nation. While some fans do this as community historians, focused on small and self-financed groups, others work within large and well-known cultural organizations and businesses, bringing this work into the mainstream.

The goal for this salon is to collectively discuss the question of how fans produce knowledge about the past and actively engage with history. Together, participants will explore practices, objects, and networks that have found little attention, such as: the distinct forms of historical media fans produce; community structures and hierarchies with history-making at their center: fan historians’ relationship to the media industries; the impact of fan labor on cultural heritage; intersections between fandom and historical societies; discrimination and harassment in fan-made histories.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • History-making and inclusion/exclusion in fandom in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and class.
  • Theorizing fans as historians.
  • Fan-produced nonfiction media about the past.
  • Use of archival and historical materials in fan works.
  • Fan-run archives and museums.
  • Memorialization of fandom.
  • Transmedial practices in fan-made histories.
  • Fan-made histories as fan pedagogy.
  • Fan historians and the media and heritage industries. 

From the ‘enormous dunghill’ to the ‘garishly diverse’: Shakespeare and Anti-Fandom (Johnathan Pope)

In 1623, poet and playwright Ben Jonson famously commemorated Shakespeare as “not of an age, but for all time.” Since that time, Shakespeare’s reputation and central place in the literary canon and as Britain’s national poet has only grown, such that today, Shakespeare enjoys cultural ubiquity in Britain and across the globe. However, from Robert Greene’s annoyance at his peer as an “upstart crow” in 1592, through Voltaire’s dismissal of the “enormous dunghill” of Shakespeare’s works in the eighteenth century, and down to the present, Shakespeare’s value and relevance has been continually challenged. Relatedly, amongst Shakespeare’s advocates, we observe regular debates about the ‘right’ way to perform and interpret his work, debates that can take the form of antagonism and trolling (such as in a recent Sunday Times television listing that mocked the 2018 RSC production of Romeo and Juliet for being “garishly diverse in casting”). Through the lens of anti-fandom, this salon aims to consider opposition or resistance to and within Shakespeare in a variety of forms and in various historical contexts, ranging from: attacks on the literary/theatrical quality of his works; the various strands of the authorship controversy; questions about his appropriateness for specific audiences or performers; hatewatching or hate-reading Shakespeare; gatekeeping and/or ‘purist’ arguments about Shakespearean ‘authenticity’ that seek to restrict access to his work by marginalized voices and interpretations. Ultimately, this salon asks, What does Shakespeare anti-fandom look like? What is at stake when policing authenticity? Can we think of Shakespeare – or interpretations of Shakespeare – as ‘bad objects’? And does relegating oppositional or resistant readings to the category of ‘anti’ simply reinforce problematic binaries? Participants are invited to discuss any texts in any medium that could inform this conversation.

Who Gets to be a Fan? Identity Politics in Superhero Fandom (Matt Griffin)

Superhero fandom is often thought of as a predominantly white male space. Because of this, there have been a number of controversies involving diversity and identity in superhero texts. Such incidents include a 2017 interview in which Marvel Comics’ vice president of sales David Gabriel said that fans “didn’t want any more diversity,” as well as the widely circulated false claim that Captain Marvel lead actress Brie Larson did not want white men to see the 2019 movie. Recent research suggests both media producers and fans are responsible for creating “a narrow, frequently gendered, vision of fan identity and participation over the past decade” (Scott, 2019, p. 21) in an effort “to homogenize fandom itself” (p. 11).

Participants for this salon are invited to discuss superhero fandom at the intersections of gender identity, sexuality, and race. Beginning from the perspective that the “proper” audience for a text is a discursive construction rather than an objective truth, this salon asks questions including (but not limited to): What are the roles fans and producers play in constructing the idea that superhero fans are mostly white men? What does the fandom look like, and how has it changed in recent years? What can fans and producers do to have a positive social impact on the fandom?   

Fans and Cancel Culture: On How Fans Process Disappointment (Roberto Huertas Gutiíerrez)

This salon wants to deal with the relationship between fans and the creative people behind the texts they love in the context of Cancel Culture. The triggering question in that sense would be: how do fans process discovering that someone they admire has committed a reprehensible act?

This issue delves into various topics. First, it talks about a specific feature of being a fan: admiring the people involved in the things you love. These people are real people, not fiction characters, but that doesn’t mean that we do not project our own inner desires onto these persons, as Star Studies teaches us. To talk about fans and cancel culture means to reflect on the ways fans get to know their idols and construct and image of them.

Following this, this issue makes us think about how the public and the private collide in the narrative around these people (actors/actresses, creators, producers…) and, most importantly, how fans process this information. This salon, in that sense, would welcome submissions regarding the positions (ethical or otherwise) fans take when learning about the dark side of the things they love. Whether they support them or “cancel them,” there’s certainly a traumatic and a feeling of betrayal that is worth researching.

In that sense, potential questions that could start this conversation are: how is the image of an idol constructed by the fan/s? how do fans experience the sudden revelation of a person they admire having committed a reprehensible act? How do they decide to support or “cancel” a person? Is the experience of admiring someone changing due to processes like Cancel Culture?

Online Spaces: The Present and Future of Virtual Fan Conventions (E. Charlotte Stevens and Sebastian F.K. Svegaard)

Many fan conventions have been postponed and cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, some smaller fan-run conventions (e.g. WisCon, VidUKon, CON.txt) translated their in-person programming into virtual forms. The necessity of moving online enacts and potentially redefines ‘fan spaces’. For example, this summer VidUKon used the new Conline platform for vidshows and panels, and a Discord server for conversation. This fannish ‘space’ expanded across time zones and continents; however, while this facilitated broader access (to a con typically held in Wales), the text-based and fast-moving Discord chat raised accessibility issues along multiple axes including physical limitations, mental load, and attention span. 

In this salon we will discuss online conventions – as fandom studies scholars, con attendees, and organisers – and reflect on what responses to the crisis reveal about how media fandom events are planned and run. We invite salon participants with interests in fan conventions, online communities/platforms, and disability/accessibility in fandom, to discuss successes, challenges, and possibilities for sustainability of virtual cons. Potential questions for conversation include: 

  • What elements are essential for a convention, and how can they be translated online? 
  • What had seemed impossible pre-pandemic but is now revealed as merely difficult? 
  • Can/should existing conventions shift to hybrid models, and are online-only conventions feasible? 
  • How are larger commercial cons adjusting their offer? 
  • How do expectations/experiences of online teaching and virtual academic conferences fit into this conversation? 

“So, this is how liberty dies; with thunderous applause”: Fandom, Politics, Public Discourse and Democracy (CarrieLynn D. Reinhard)

Western civilizations commonly frame news and politics as informative, to encourage logical public discourse to promote collaborative problem solving. Fandom, however, is primarily affective-based, with motivations to consume influenced by emotional relationships to some object of affection. However, in the 21st century, many journalists, political analysts, and politicians reconceptualize citizens and constituents as fans. For example, politicians talk about their loyal constituents and utilizing grassroots campaigns in ways similar to media producers discuss their fans. Thus, a politician builds a fandom around themselves and persuades it to engage in certain civic activities. This type of political organizing, however, often becomes criticized as populism and is seen as antithetical to democracy. Such framing would see fandom as antithetical to democracy.

It may also be true, however, that such affective organizing exists at the core democratic participation, providing the impetus to become involved, and thus fandom essentially has always been a part of democracy. If citizenship is performance, and fan communities provide a space in which to experience and enact a political identity, then when citizens or politicians bring fandom into politics, they do so based on generating an affective citizenship to encourage political citizenship and help people fulfill their legal-judicial citizenship. Western-style democracies, for example, perhaps cultivate and encourage affective political engagement, at least since the rise of “commoners” voting. 

This salon tackles the question: “what would happen to political engagement and democracy if we consider citizens as fans, and what are the benefits/drawbacks of this type of framing?”

To that end, I am looking for people willing to discuss different answers to this question that could involve any of the following and their relationship to fandom:

  • Affective citizenship 
  • Populism, jingoism, and fascism
  • Political manipulation
  • Public discourse
  • History of democracy
  • Democratic processes 
  • Political ideologies 
  • Political activism
  • Studying citizens-as-fans
  • Organizing citizens-as-fans

Politicization of Fandom: An Introspection of the Harry Potter Alliance (Melanie Gaw and Nathan Simpson)

The Harry Potter books comprise one of the most popular and beloved fictional series in the world. The popularity of these works inspired immense fan involvement and creativity beyond the story world. One of the most significant areas of fan involvement is fan activism. Harry Potter serves as a jumping off point for many fan-led political and human rights focused organizations. Due to past and recent comments by the series’ author J.K. Rowling, LGBTQ+ issues are particularly prevalent within the fandom. Rowling’s repeated statements denying the rights and existence of trans women have sparked conversations about how progressive the Harry Potter books really are and how much the opinions of the series’ author carry weight. 

One of the most significant activist organizations inspired by the Harry Potter books is the Harry Potter Alliance. According to Henry Jenkins, the HPA covers a wide range of political issues using “cultural acupuncture” to map issues from the fictional world of Harry Potter onto real-world issues. The HPA’s reliance on the source materials for inspiration makes for an interesting inquiry into how effectively an organization that champions LGBTQ+ issues can distance itself from the harmful comments made by the series’ author. 

Discussion Questions:

  • How have fans responded to J.K. Rowling’s recent anti-trans comments? 
  • How have Rowling’s anti-trans comments impacted activism through groups like the Harry Potter Alliance?
  • What has Rowling’s comments contributed to the conversation of fan ownership in media? 
  • One of the most striking aspects of the Harry Potter Alliance is how much it draws on its source material to create subgroups and policy goals within the organization. How does this strengthen the group’s fan loyalty and participation and how can this be utilized further in fan activism in general? 

Adolescent Fans and Digital Culture (Pilar Lacasa)

Despite their relevance, adolescent fan communities have been a neglected topic in academic studies. However, the Internet and mobile devices, the fact of living in a multiplatform society, define and configure these communities. The question is how they relate to those mediated by analog instruments. To what extent do the traits characterizing the Western youth world of today beget new ways of being a fan? We look for an interdisciplinary and transcultural conversation about fan practices, and their ties to multimodal discourses, material tools, affect, or relationships with cultural industries. To open the discussion, the following issues will be introduced:

  • How do contexts mediated by digital technology transform discourses mediating relationships in adolescent fan communities? The use of discourse within fan communities may be approached considering that fans are text nomads or pirates. We will focus on how fans are producers and interpreters of multimodal texts, mediated by material tools, going further of writing and oral symbolic tools.
  • Why technology is transforming adolescent fan communities? Social networks are inseparable from the technology supporting them These social networks, the online audiences, are perhaps the starting point for constructing a community Technology transforms the space and time of human interactions that can be observed on many different levels. 
  • Who are the participants in adolescent fans communities and what are the role of cultural industries to design them?Fan communities may be explored emphasizing the social agents who take part in a multiplatform society, both the fans and the companies which bring together popular culture. 
  • What are the appropriate methods to approach these communities, mediated by digital tools?We will explore how the analysis supported by big data broadens the knowledge of these communities and to what extent they are compatible or complementary to other methodological approaches.

The Practice and Politics of Theme Park Fandoms (Kyle Meikle and Rebecca Williams)

This salon invites participants to address the pleasures and politics of theme parks fans in the current moment, when closures related to COVID-19 and widespread protests against racism have fundamentally refigured the practices and politics of those fandoms. In the past several months, theme parks around the world have been forced to close due to the pandemic, while they have also found themselves the focus of political debates linked to the enforcing of wearing masks on-site and, in Disney’s case, representation and the Black Lives Matter movement. These developments have had an enormous impact upon fans who have often been ignored or maligned and misunderstood.

This salon invites responses to questions including:

  • How have theme park fans responded to the closures of parks?
  • How have different theme parks and their respective fandoms—e.g., Disney’s, Universal Studios’s—reacted to closures and reopenings in different ways?
  • What practices have fans undertaken to maintain connections with these places and with each other as a community?
  • How have top-down responses (such as those on Disney’s own blogs or social media) differed from bottom-up fan practices?
  • How have different groups politicized the reopening of theme parks, especially in relation to debates over the wearing of masks and the policing of guest behaviours?
  • How have issues of representation been negotiated in fan discussions, e.g., over Disney’s decision to retheme its Splash Mountain ride from the racist depictions of its Song of the South film to an attraction based on The Princess and the Frog?
  • What other opportunities to reimagine representation in the theme parks might we see in the future?

We especially welcome discussion of parks outside of the United States, or examples beyond the cases of Disney and Universal Studios.

Good Fan, Bad Fan? Politics, Appropriateness, and Toxicity in Global Pop Culture Fandoms (Simone Driessen and Bethan Jones)

Between K-pop fans interfering with U.S. politics, calls for Disney’s Mulan to be boycotted because of the lead’s support for the Hong Kong police, and Taylor Swift’s political revelations, this year has been an eventful one for fandoms worldwide. And although such developments are not new, fans and anti-fans alike seem more vocal about what they consider ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fan engagement.

This salon explores the various practices, forms of engagement, and processes of the ‘politics’ of fandom in a global context. We are seeking contributions which ask what is acceptable, or appropriate fan engagement? And when (and who) do we consider these affective investments as good or positive, or harmful, ‘bad’, or even toxic? Beyond simply ‘cancel culture’, an overwhelmingly white, Anglo-centric form of boycott, we aim to address these types of engagement in a global context, to explore a worldwide emergence of, and offer a firm context to, this phenomenon. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary perspectives, allowing scrutiny of these developments with fan studies at their core but also inviting perspectives from other disciplines and a global and/or transcultural context to better understand them.

Teaching Fandom: Fandom, Fanworks, and Fan Studies in the Classroom (Jonathan A. Rose)

The salon discussion is guided by the question of why we teach fandom and fan studies. It not only offers room to think about how fandom can be taught and integrated into educational settings but also allows us to reflect on the issues connected with moving fandom out of its originary setting and on our responsibilities as educators, scholars and fans in this context.  Moderator Jonathan Rose has been inviting students to go down the fandom rabbit hole since 2016, looking at Victor/Clerval slash in his Frankenstein seminars, using Harry Potter fan theories to think about adaptations or literary theories or creating a multi-fandom fanzine together with his students, including those who hadn’t heard of fanfiction before.  

Participants are invited to share teaching experiences, to discuss successes and failures in bringing fandom to the classroom, and to reflect on what fandom and fan studies have to offer in educational settings. 

Potential topics/questions to be addressed in the salon include but are not limited to:

  • Practical/creative and theoretical approaches to teaching fandom/fan studies
  • Fan studies methodologies in different educational settings
  • How can fan studies as a discipline and body of theories offer a valuable perspective for students to engage with and employ in non-fandom settings?
  • Education/knowledge production in fandom, fandom as an educational setting
  • Which values, debates and controversy in fandom (and fan studies) shine a light on broader cultural issues connected with e.g. racism or misogyny, and how can we use them as a starting point for e.g. classroom discussions?

Close Literary Analysis of Fanfiction as Trauma Text (JSA Lowe and Lucy Baker)

The Fan Fiction Studies Reader (eds. Busse and Hellekson) from 2014 collected studies of fanfiction as literary artifacts, and 2017’s The Fanfiction Reader (ed. Coppa) developed this idea further, collecting fanworks as well as a critical introduction to each of its “folk tales.” The development of literary techniques as a dominant fan studies method has been inevitably stymied, however, in many ways by the overwhelming body of text—not only of the fanworks themselves, but the source material from which they originate, as well as their subcultural and counterpublic contexts. But fanfiction offers uniquely intimate literary examples of personal writing, and, in the case of “trauma texts”—semi-autobiographical works that combine life writing and memoir with the political, social, and emotional context of characters’ trauma—it also creates works that use the extant canon to draw from and elaborate upon writers’ personal experiences. Of relevance are contemporary fandom wars over the appropriateness of “darkfic” and other traumatic texts touching on issues of violence and sexuality. As diverse as the authors and instances of these trauma texts may be, they are also policed or silenced according to questions of who gets to write autobiographically, and under what conditions; how do the power relations of race, gender, and disability, for example, matter to the ethics of telling trauma? How do trauma texts reflect their positionality of their authors as much as their characters? What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling trauma via the vehicle of another’s story? This salon invites participants to examine specific examples of fanfiction as trauma text—contemporary, historical, personal, political—and explore ways in which this form provides a unique space for the literary exploration of trauma, including what Whitlock and Douglas call “the ethics of testimony and witnessing, the commodification of traumatic story, and [the] politics of recognition” (2009) for both the wider field of trauma texts, and fanfiction itself.

Fandom and American Political Culture (Amber Davisson and Ashley Hinck)

Writing in the midst of the 2019 Democratic Presidential, New York Times essayist Amanda Hess argued that fandom is “now a dominant mode of experiencing politics.” Indeed, our current political moment is filled with examples. Elizabeth Warren’s supporters call her Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter readers have likened Betsy Devos to Delores Umbridge. The K-pop community has united to troll Trump campaign rallies and raise funds for Black Lives Matter. Harry Styles fans have attempted to mobilize his image as a populist figure, and Bernie Sanders followers have proven themselves devoted Stans through two election cycles. The turn toward popular culture fandom has introduced new practices into political campaigning, created new networks for political action, and offered citizens new ways to think about what it means to be politically engaged. This salon will examine these developments and more, with a focus on the question: how do citizens marshal the incredible resources of fandom to participate in American political culture?

Submissions might include:

  • Historical cases of political fandom
  • Fan communities mobilizing for political protests
  • The use of fan iconography in political protests
  • Political candidates and organizations attempts to tap into fan communities
  • Political candidates as the subjects of real person fanart, fan fiction, vidding, and other fan practices
  • Ethical issues as fans create work for political purposes that contradicts the original text or uses real people who do not share their views. 

This salon is meant to be a jumping off point for the edited collection Stanning America: Fandom and American Political Culture. Participants will be invited to submit proposals for essays for the collection.

Disappearing Music Spaces: Music Fandom and Tourism During a Pandemic (Robert Webb Fry)

Music Cities associated with specific genres, such as Nashville (Country), New Orleans (Jazz), and Memphis (Blues and Rock and Roll), invite fans to not only witness history but also take part in, shape, and make history through supposed back-region experiences and staged performances of locality and intimacy. Rather than merely look at or hear the musical city, fans are invited to experience a performance where the realistic and romanticized become one and the same, mediated through the tourist gaze and subsequent performance. The open invitation to interact with both genre and its host city has transformed history into a touristic commodity manifested through the tourist imagination and the performative act of touring and fandom.  

Within famed musical spaces, fans can, therefore, witness and, more importantly, perform preconceptions of the genre and its host geography. Such a performance relies heavily on the connection between musical sound and place and the opportunity for fans to experience and perform these places.  Because of Covid-19, many of the spaces where fans perform and experience popular music have been closed. Shuttered bars and museums and the cancellation of tours and live music events have silenced music cities and all but erased opportunities for fans to interact in person with places, artists, and the genre itself.  

We invite scholars to participate in an interdisciplinary conversation (Salon) concerning the restrictions around the public, physical spaces vital to the music fan’s experience during the current or past pandemics, shedding light on the importance of place in music fandom and how the erasure of place has affected cultural tourism and/or fandom in times of pandemic.

Consequences of the Fan Gaze: K-Pop Idols’ Objectified Body in the Age of Fancam (Muxin Zhang)

If you are a K-Pop fan, then you will naturally be familiar with the term fancam – video shot by fans/fansites, focused on an idol group/a specific idol during public appearances. While fancam has long existed in the K-Pop fan community, in the past few years, ever since a fancam of HaNi – a member of EXID – performing “Up and Down” went viral and eventually helped the song climb to the top of the music chart, these videos have gradually gained popularity beyond diehard fans and become an indispensable tool for the promotion of K-Pop idols.

As fancams achieve a wider “audience,” their functions are no longer restricted to helping fans learn the detailed choreography and let them observe their bias when they don’t have screentime. On the one hand, they become some form of surrogate surveillance on the idols and provide sources of gossip for non-fans/anti-fans. Fancam screenshots are posted online to blame “disqualified” idols who have gained weight or are being half-hearted when they are not at the center position. Some fancams reveal idols’ awkward onstage outfit malfunctions and consequently get high views. On the other hand, rather unexpectedly fancams are used for activist purposes during the recent #BlackLivesMatter movement. Racist/White supremacist hashtags like #WhiteLivesMatter fell into the “K-Pop” category because K-Pop fans drown out these hashtags with short, edited fancam videos.

This salon welcomes discussions related to various consequences of the fancam culture, including but not limited to the following topics:

  • The weaponization of fancams for activist purposes (why/how it works?)
  • The body exploitation/sexual objectification of idols, especially female idols
  • The role fancam plays in online fan community’s increasing emphasis on the so-called “idol standard,” e.g. weight management, stage performance/presence, dating ban

Fandom and Gaming (Jonathan Lundy and Greg Loring-Albright)

This salon invites participation from scholars who work within game studies, material culture, transmedia storytelling, and fandom scholarship. As both board and video games have only increased in popularity, this salon seeks to better understand several provisionally theorized ways in which participants and fans engage with the gaming hobby. Scholars have posited the way that gameplay can be a fan practice, while also examining game players as fans themselves. The gameplay-as-fan-practice perspective suggests that players can use gameplay to write alternate histories that obey franchise constraints with non-canonical outcomes. In the realm of board gaming, miniatures-as-toys situates these game tokens as toyetic objects, accessible both within the framework of the game rules, but also as purely ludic objects to be played with, displayed, modified, photographed, and traded, outside of their use as game pieces. These and other intersections between game rules, physical figurines, and transmedia narratives promise productive, cross-disciplinary explorations of a materialized media form.

We invite scholars to center gaming in their participation in this salon, and welcome perspectives from the aforementioned academic disciplines (among others) to reflect on the ways in which this specific hobby and its practices can open new theoretical approaches to their disciplines. Some specific questions this salon can address include:

  • What are the ties between gaming and fan cultures?
  • How does a ludic culture manifest in the COVID era?
  • What does the rise in popularity of analog gaming reflect about fandom?
  • How do gameplay structures and material affordances function for players and fans?
  • How do paratextual games negotiate questions of canon?

Fandom: The Next Generation (Megan Connor and Bridget Kies)

This salon proposes a discussion of reboot culture and long-running franchises as tandem forces that shape fandoms over time. Specifically, how might we consider fandoms as both intergenerational and transgenerational groups? What impact does generational difference create in fandoms, especially it is labelled and culturally defined by those in the industry (e.g. Boomers, Millennials…)? Today’s media landscape is a world where no IP is left behind. Media franchises, from sprawling transmedia universes like Star Wars and Marvel’s MCU to this summer’s sweet update of the children’s book series, The Baby-sitters Club, are constantly producing new content, being reimagined and rebooted. Additionally, many media franchises now stretch to durations previously unheard of for primetime television series: to date The Simpsons has aired 31 seasons, Grey’s Anatomy recently surpassed ER as the longest running medical drama of all-time, and fans of Supernatural were meant to tearfully say goodbye after 15 seasons…only to be thwarted by COVID-19 shutdowns. What, then, does it mean for fans of media franchises when content becomes insurmountable in size and spans decades in duration? How do writers and producers of rebooted and long-running media franchises seek to keep material fresh and attract new audiences without alienating core fans? How do longtime fans reconcile with changes, updates, and remakes to their beloved texts? In particular, we are interested in the ways that fan communities grapple with media texts shifting to reflect a desire for greater diversity in representations of gender, race, and sexuality—see, for example, the recent boom of gender-swapped reboots like 2016’s Ghostbusters and 2018’s Ocean’s 8. How might we understand generation as key component in these critical conversations?

To apply, please fill in the form at https://forms.gle/CNhEWhgCZTmHFF2B7. The deadline for proposals is Tuesday, August 25, 2020

If you have questions, please contact us at fsnna.conference [at] gmail [dot] com