Through the years, I have mentioned in interviews the fact that I had first written about fandom as a student journalist for the Georgia State University Signal. The piece is one that I have always approached with a certain degree of shame, because I fell into many of the traps that I have criticized in other people's writing about fandom. I learned from those mistakes and in the process, developed the framework that informed Textual Poachers and my subsequent work on fans.
When my wife discovered that they had digitized the old Signals, the first thing I wanted to read was my essay on fandom. As part of the historical record, I wanted to share the article today.
I warn you in advance that it takes a particularly male-centric view of what kinds of fans matter. Women are discussed here almost entirely as erotic spectacle, right down to the proverbial female Amazon in the fur bikini, where-as I take seriously the activities of male fans. That said, you will also find an emerging sense that fans are up to something important, including both creative and civic undertakings. You might think of the discussion here of NASA boosters who were very much part of the fandom I encountered in the late 1970s as an early form of what today we might call fan activism. The article gives a pretty good sense of what it was like -- for me as a randy 19 year old -- to go to his first con during this period.
Be kind and forgiving. I share it in the spirit of senior academics who are announcing their failures as a means of helping young scholars to put the ups and downs of their careers into context.