The following roundtables are seeking participants. Roundtables are discussion oriented, with only brief opening comments from participants rather than formal papers. People wishing to apply to participate in a roundtable should submit a 200-word proposal of what specifically you would like to discuss, no later than September 1, 2021.
Your proposal should include the title of the roundtable to which you’re applying, and you should submit it by email to email@example.com.
Accepted roundtable participants will then write 300-500 word perspectives/abstracts on that roundtable’s topic, which they will share with the other roundtable conversation participants a few days before their session.
1. Digital Methods and Digital Fan Practices (Effie Sapuridis and Suzanne R Black)
The growing relevance of digital humanities methods and practices to fan studies is beginning to be discussed from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, and this roundtable will explore the connections between fan studies and the digital humanities. By taking into account the digital nature of many fan interactions and creations, it will theorise approaches that make use of digital technologies, and approaches that take into account the digital attributes of fan works and fan activities.
Of particular interest are proposals that actively engage with the challenges and possibilities that digital methods and approaches bring to fan studies, as well as case studies that put these methods into action.
Possible topics of conversation might include:
- applying existing digital methods to, or developing new methods for, the study of fan activities
- how digital methods account for feminist, queer and critical race studies within fan studies
- digital methods and transnational and non-Western fandoms
- using digital methods to read large quantities of fanfiction texts
- fandom stats and visualisations
- consequences of treating fan activity as data
- ethics, digital methods and fan studies
- affordances of digital platforms
- fan works as electronic literature
- fan activities and library and information science
2. The Money Question (Stacey Lantagne)
Traditionally, fandom was considered a noncommercial endeavor, a gift economy with minimal financial aspect outside of occasional charity auctions. The internet, however, has steadily expanded the capability of fans to monetize their creations. From cosplay on Etsy to art and fic on Patreon and Ko-Fi, fandom is more commercial than ever. What does that mean for its future? This Roundtable seeks to discuss the impact of increasing commercialization on fandom, including the way the outside world perceives it and the way fans understand it. Topics could include the Organization for Transformative Work’s focus on noncommercial works and policing of fundraising on the Archive of Our Own; the new Tumblr Post+ proposal; the rise of fanart and fanfic created in exchange for commissions and how that affects the writer/reader relationship; Wattpad’s for-profit fiction-posting mission; the effect of Patreon, Kickstarter, and Ko-Fi on fan activities; and the growing ease of self-publishing. Will fandom inevitably continue to seek even greater monetization? How will that affect its relationship with its source material? How will that affect relationships between and among fan creators and fan consumers? And how could all this shift cultural understanding of how fandom is defined?
3. Media and cultural industries as mediators in fans’ digital communities (Pilar Lacasa)
Mass media and cultural industries are present in fan communities, orienting their discourses mainly generated in digital environments. Fans interact with the products created around their heroes, and even interact directly with their designers participating in digital communication contexts. There are conceptual and methodological discussions about how to understand the relationships between fans’ communities and cultural industries. From this starting point, the discussion of this round table will entail different, continuously overlapping points, among others: Do cultural industries perceive fans as specific audiences? What strategies do cultural industries use to be present in fans’ communities? How do these strategies diversify through social networks, considering the specific discourses of each of them? Are oriented and mediated by some cultural industries the power relations between members of these fan communities, their roles, and their leadership? What role do multimodal fan discourses play in their creative processes mediated by cultural industries? To what extent are fan practices mediated by cultural industries aimed at fostering monetization processes? What methods or combination of methodological approaches contribute to analyzing and explaining fan practices and communities in universes mediated by digital communication tools? These and other issues will allow to explore fan communities contextualized a global world where cultural and economic capital interplay.
4. Accidental Audiences? Adult Fans of Children’s Media (Matt Griffin)
Fandom has become an increasingly visible part of daily life over the past decade, which has changed many cultural norms. One example of this is the growing presence of adult fandoms for texts that are considered “children’s media.” This roundtable invites responses to several questions related to this dynamic: What makes a media text “for” a particular audience? What are the merits or consequences of such categories? How do media outlets frame and construct the identities of seemingly “accidental audiences” (Burdfield, 2015)? Responses to these questions may draw on any text or group in which such generational differences play a role; in addition, participants may discuss the related topics of nostalgia, reboots, and the pathologizing of fandom. This discussion hopes to offer insight into the complicated nuances of modern identity politics of both audiences and texts.
5. Mental health, the pandemic, and fandom: Roundtable discussion, reflection, and idea generation (Krysten Stein and CarrieLynn Reinhard)
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense global impact. When it comes to fandom, it essentially stopped all opportunities for physical experiences and expressions, requiring fans, fan communities, and the organizations that serve them to alter traditional modes of engagement. At the same time, people’s fandoms may provide connection and the escapism needed to cope with the unknowns and pandemic induced stress. Consumption and production of goods associated with fandoms could also provide the relief and balm to manage the uncertainties, isolation, and feelings of emptiness during this time. We are interested in facilitating a discussion surrounding fandom, the COVID-19 pandemic, and mental health. We invite individuals who would like to present their theoretical and empirical approaches to this topic, as well as their own experiences as fans. We hope this discussion will generate personal experiences and conversation to dig deeper into understanding the relationship between fandom and mental health, especially if fandom can function as a coping mechanism. In the end, we hope this roundtable will suggest possible research ideas on this specific topic or on fandom in general.
6. Why Lamp? A roundtable discussing symbology, memes and fan practice in the context of the final episodes of Supernatural (Naomi Jacobs and Christina Wurst)
On November 5th, 2020, as vote counting for the US Presidential elections continued in its third day and key states hung in the balance, the television show Supernatural aired its antepenultimate episode. Current news coverage combined with widespread shock and jokes about the events of the episode, and with speculation for the consequences. This formed a digital maelstrom which continued to rapidly change and expand in subsequent weeks.
In this roundtable we are focusing not on the content of these episodes, but the fan practice and reaction surrounding them. We will discuss the rapid evolution of memes and jokes such as ‘why lamp?’ and the complex relationship between fan theorising and conspiracy theories. Other topics on which we welcome contributions might include (but are not limited to -)
- Post-object fandom and reactions to the ending of the series
- Meta-writing and fans’ close reading of in-text symbols
- Specific features of immediate transformative works responses such as codas and fix-it fics
- Impacts of the pandemic – exploration of how fans reacted to Covid-19 shifting the airdate, production and content of the finale
- Analyses of response within and beyond ‘the fandom’ – including (re)engagement from those previously absent.
7. Where is the Music in Fan Studies? (Suzanne Wint and Shanika Ranasinghe)
In the introduction to Popular Music Fandom, Mark Duffett characterized the study of popular music fandoms as “relatively stunted and sporadic” in nature, noting that Popular Music Studies tended to focus on production and distribution, while media fandom researchers “neither had the training nor the interest to examine music audiences” (2014: 6). This roundtable addresses the persistently sporadic nature of scholarship on music fans in general. It poses the provocative question of where the music is in Fan Studies as a means of discussing how methodologies from the various subdisciplines of Music Studies might aid in the search for ways in which to talk about the music fan. Ethnomusicology studies how people organize around music, while Musicology considers discourse around music. Music Theory speaks to cognition and the pleasure of music perception. Fan consumption is intimately linked with the issues of identity, production, and distribution that Popular Music addresses. What are the implications of a broader conception of music fandom for both Fan Studies and Music Studies? What does it mean to call oneself or to be called a music fan, versus a music connoisseur or collector? How have disciplinary histories shaped studies of fandom, and how might studies of fandom shape disciplinary futures? We welcome participants who study music fandom across time, place, genre/style, and are especially interested in discussion from a range of home disciplines.
8. Queer(ing) Female Characters (Alice Kelly)
This roundtable is designed to elicit discussions of queer female characters (whether queer in canon or fanon) and the fandoms they inspire. Researchers of f/f and femslash ships are strongly encouraged to participate, but contributions are also welcomed from those who interpret queer(able) female characters to mean any who are imagined as ‘more empowered, more self-determining, more dominant’ in fan productions than in the source text (De Kosnik, 2016, 151). Potential we may expand on and/or negotiate during the roundtable include:
- Genre – Where do we find queer female fandom? What kinds of media properties and character types inspire fans to imagine female characters as queerer than they appear in the source text?
- Form – What forms of fan expression does such queering or investment in queer female character take (e.g. transformative/embodied)? How do different acts of fandom shape the kinds of queer lives explored or celebrated?
- Intersectionality – How do queer female fandoms engage with race, and how are they themselves shaped by racial dynamics? How does queer female fandom understand, describe, interrogate or deny the impact of other kinds of power dynamics (e.g. age, class, religion, disability)?
- Temporality – When do we find queer female fandom? How do queer female fandoms engage with queer histories, futures or presents?
9. Exploring Experiential Fandoms of Cultural Festivals (Rebecca Finkel and Lesley-Ann Dickson)
This roundtable aims to explore what it means to be a fan of cultural festivals. When thinking about fandoms in cultural contexts, the focus is often on genres; specific bands, artists, or performers; certain types of art forms; niches and fringes. Yet, there is little conceptualized regarding those whose cultural fandoms extend to festivals and experiential settings themselves. However, it can be seen that there are entanglements between festivals and identity (re-)construction, as people feel a sense of belonging to festival communities. For example, certain pop and rock music festivals, such as Glastonbury, attract fan followings and have passionate communities associated with them, who cyclically attend in almost a ritualistic manner. Indeed, ritual emerges in Dayan’s (2002) work on audience practice at Sundance Film Festival in which he suggests that festival-goers take on divergent performative roles. Such perspectives move discussion beyond the actual moment of cultural encounter (i.e. watching the band, film, stand-up) to consider the importance identity, status, etiquette, and performativity play in the construction of festival fandom. Drawing on the interdisciplinary fields of critical event studies, cultural studies, and media studies (e.g. the oeuvre of Henry Jenkins), this roundtable seeks to investigate what cultural festivals mean to people on individual and collective bases and to question what makes someone a fan of a festival – as opposed to an attendee or participant. This is especially relevant in the current climate when events were cancelled or pivoted online due to the pandemic; therefore, it is also worth examining how festival fans maintained their communities and responded to the crisis.
10. Post-Authorial – Fans, Archives, and the Sensations of the Claim (Linda Howell)
Who owns the story? Who owns the text? In contemporary fan studies issues of authorship, ownership, and the rights to claim bother the edges of fan production; further, the act of interpretation and theories surrounding it often vacillate between a strict type of originalism all the way to a kind of textual relativism. This roundtable is interested in how the material can help us think about these issues. By tracking the citation markers of fandom through the evolution of disclaimers, tags, and annotations, we might be able to understand this move toward a post-authorship approach to understanding fanwork and its relationship to and as source material. These symbols of “claimship” provide markers for how to examine authorship. Is post-authorship the next step in the continuing collapse between the content creator, the content consumer, and the content consumer/producer? Perhaps the author is neither dead nor alive. Perhaps, the author is shared.
11. Emerging Modes of Fan Video (Louisa Stein and Lori Morimoto)
This roundtable will examine emerging modes of fan video. We hope to bring together scholars and potentially also fan video makers who study a range of fan video practices from different contexts. Fan video is a diverse form with varying aesthetic norms and thematic foci, dependent on cultural context, national context, interface context, fandom contexts. What aesthetic practices have emerged for fan video on Tik Tok, or Instagram? Within YouTube, multiple fan video practices, norms and communities exist. Vibrant fan video communities and traditions exist on the Chinese site Bilibili and Weibo, as well as on social media tools such as Little Red Book. We welcome submissions for participants studying specific fan video practices, aesthetics, and communities, as well as those engaged in comparative transcultural work in these areas.
12. Fans and Fairy Tales (Liz Laurie and Shiraz Biggie)
This roundtable invites participation from scholars interested in contemporary fairy tale fandom. While many people associate fairy tales with their Disney adaptations and fairy tale fandom with Disney fandom, we would like to discuss fan reactions to fairy tales as interpreted in book illustrations, art, theatre, television shows, and other mediums both beyond and including Disney reimaginings. This roundtable invites discussion on how fans of these retellings take part in the repetition and circulation of fairy tales and how that affects notions of fairy tale authenticity. Of particular interest is how fans react to or create visual interpretations of fairy tales (fan reactions to costumes, for example). Specific areas of interest include (but are not limited to!):
- Fan reactions to casting announcements
- Fans engagement with visual interpretation (costumes, scenery, props)
- How fan artists monetize fairy tales through art, jewelry, clothing, etc.
- Fan art
- Fairy tale shipping and fan fiction
- Fairy tale cosplay
13. Fans, Players, and/or Users? Bridging Fan and Digital Media Studies (Lesley Willard and Nick Bestor)
Fan studies has long been focused on delineating, debating, and describing the many ways in which media fans differ from general audiences and average consumers. However, in a rapidly iterating, proliferating, and migratory media ecology, those differentiations are constantly shifting. As social platforms like Twitter and Tumblr are used in media promotional campaigns, aggregating affordances like hashtags bridge countless micro-fandoms and user communities, creating site-wide connections and conversations that defy clean categorization. As gaming platforms like Twitch and Steam continually introduce features that incorporate (and sometimes exploit) user labor in the game development process, the fine lines and academic designations between platform users, game players, and media fans further blur.
While these changes complicate the subject and scope of contemporary media research, they also open up and necessitate an interdisciplinary approach. This roundtable discussion seeks to dig deeper into the liminal nature of these designations as a way to mobilize and strengthen the connections between new media, game, and fan studies. What is gained or lost when we theorize fans as players, players as users, or users as fans? How do they conflict and overlap? What are the methodological considerations and/or ethical ramifications of such interdisciplinary work?