As classes start back at the USC campus, I am teaching two of my trademarked courses this term — my PhD seminar in fandom studies and an advanced undergraduate/graduate class on transmedia entertainment. Both are classes that need to be significantly up-dated each time I teach them, so while I have shared syllabi for these classes here in the past, I decided it was worth it to post them again.
Today, I want to focus on the changes I have made in the fandom studies class. As I suggested in introducing Squee from the Margins author Ruckmini Pande last Spring, the field is undergoing some dramatic changes right now as a generation of fan scholars of color are actively seeking to “decolonize” this area of study, pushing a field that has been focused heavily on issues of gender and sexuality to incorporate intersectional perspectives on race and nationality, and in the process of recentering our objects of study, challenging much of the foundational thinking.
As someone often cited as a founding figure or senior statesman in fandom studies, I find myself in a curious position as I bring this new work into the classroom of contributing to a process that is decolonizing some of my own life’s work. I welcome this process, which has been a long-timing coming and which I have long advocated for.
I have kept some classic pieces but for the most part I am teaching new works this semester, much of it from scholars who are at the early stages of their careers. The warhorses are taught in relations to critiques which challenge some of their underlying models and assumptions so that my class will be “teaching the crisis”, working through with my students what this new scholarship means for future developments in fandom studies. Issues surrounding racial and ethnic identity are woven across most of the topics rather than having a special day dedicated to fans of color.
And while I was rethinking race, I introduce the notion of transnational fandom fairly early in the semester so that we place the need to specify which fans in which contexts as a key framing question from the start. In doing so, I am trying to create a space where my students — who are increasingly transnational in their backgrounds — can share their own experiences as fans in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of the world.
I know I am going to learn a lot from this process, using my students as thinking partners as I work through the implications of this new work. I hope other senior scholars in the field will be doing similar things as they bring this important new work into their classes.
COMM 577 Special Topics: Fandom, Participatory Culture and Web 2.0
Prof. Henry Jenkins
Please email email@example.com office hours.
Sites like YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Wikipedia have made visible a set of cultural practices and logics that had been taking root within fandom over the past hundred-plus years, expanding their cultural influence by broadening and diversifying participation. In many ways, these practices have been encoded into the business models shaping so-called Web 2.0 companies, which have in turn made them far more mainstream, have increased their visibility, and have incorporated them into commercial production and marketing practices. The result has been a blurring between the grassroots practices I call participatory culture and the commercial practices being called Web 2.0.
Fans have become some of the sharpest critics of Web 2.0, asking a series of important questions about how these companies operate, how they generate value for their participants, and what expectations participants should have around the content they provide and the social networks they entrust to these companies. Given this trajectory, a familiarity with fandom may provide an important key for understanding many new forms of cultural production and participation and, more generally, the logic through which social networks operate.
So, to define our three terms (at least provisionally): fandom refers to the social structures and cultural practices created by the most passionately engaged consumers of mass media properties; participatory culture refers more broadly to any kind of cultural production which starts at the grassroots level and which is open to broad participation; and Web 2.0 is a business model that sustains many web-based projects that rely on principles such as user creation and moderation, social networking, and "crowdsourcing."
That said, the debates about Web 2.0 are only the most recent set of issues in cultural and media studies which have been shaped by the emergence of a field of research focused on fans and fandom. Fan studies:
emerged from the Birmingham School's investigations of subcultures and resistance
became quickly entwined with debates in Third Wave Feminism and queer studies
has been a key space for understanding how taste and cultural discrimination operate
has increasingly been a site of investigation for researchers trying to understand informal learning or emergent conceptions of the citizen/consumer
has shaped legal discussions around appropriation, transformative work, and remix culture
has become increasingly central to discussions of racial representation, diversity, and inclusion within the entertainment industry
has become a useful window for understanding how globalization is reshaping our everyday lives.
This course will be structured around an investigation of the contribution of fan studies to cultural theory, framing each class session around a key debate and mixing writing explicitly about fans with other work asking questions about cultural change and the politics of everyday life. This term, I have chosen to revise my syllabus to reflect ongoing debates in the field – in particular, a new effort to “de-colonize fandom studies,” to recenter the field around questions of race and nationality as well as its historic focus on gender and sexuality. Together, we will work through the ways that this new work requires us to question and revise earlier formulations of the field.
Students will be expected to post regular weekly comments reacting to the readings on the Blackboard site for the class. (20 percent)
Students will write a short five-page auto-ethnography describing their own history as a fan of popular entertainment. They will explore whether or not they think of themselves as a fan, what kinds of fan practices they engage with, how they define themselves a fan, how they became invested in the media franchises that have been part of theirlife, and how their feelings about being a fan might have adjusted over time. (10 percent)(DueSept. 9)
Students will develop an annotated bibliography exploring one of the theoretical debates that have been central to the field of fan studies. These might include those which we've identified for the class, or they might include other topics more relevant to the student's own research. What are the key contributions of fan studies literature to this larger field of inquiry? What models from these theoretical traditions have informed work in fan studies? (30 Percent) (Due Oct. 28)
Students will write a 15-20 page essay on a topic of their own choosing (in consultation with the instructor) which they feel grows out of the subjects and issues we've been exploring throughout the class. The paper will ideally build on the annotated bibliography created for the earlier assignment. Students will do a a short 10 minute presentation of their findings during the final week of class. (40 percent) (Due TBA)
Readings: There are NO assigned books. All readings are available on course blackboard site.
WEEK ONE: August 26
§ Jonathan Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, "Why Study Fans?" in Jonathan Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington,Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World(New York: New York UP, 2007)
If you have not previously read any of the following, take a look:
§ Angela McRobbie, “Settling Accounts with Subcultures: A Feminist Account” http://www.hu.mtu.edu/~jdslack/readings/CSReadings/McRobbie_Settling_Accounts_with_Subcultures.pdf
§ Stuart Hall, “Encoding/Decoding” in Simon During (Ed.) The Cultural Studies Reader(London: Routledge, 2007) https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/SH-Encoding-Decoding.pdf
§ Raymond Williams, “Culture Is Ordinary” (1958)
§ Janice Radway, “The Readers and Their Romances,” Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature(Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1984)
September 2: NO CLASS - LABOR DAY
WEEK TWO: September 9
Fan Studies and Cultural Resistance
§ John Fiske, "The Cultural Economy of Fandom," in Lisa A. Lewis (ed.) The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media(New York: Routledge, 1992)
§ Camille Bacon-Smith, "Identity and Risk," Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992)
§ Constance Penley, "Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Study of Popular Culture" in Lawrence Grosberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler (eds.), Cultural Studies(Durham: Duke University Press, 1991)
§ Henry Jenkins, "Star TrekRerun, Reread, Rewritten,” Fans, Bloggers and Gamers(New York: New York University Press, 2006)
§ Rebecca Wanzo, “African American acafandom and other strangers: New genealogies of fan studies,” Transformative Works and Culture, 2015, http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/699
§ (Rec.) Stephen Duncombe, “Resistance” in Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray (eds.) Keywords For Media Studies(New York: New York University Press, 2017)
§ (Rec.) Henry Jenkins, “Negotiating Fandom: The Politics of Race-Bending” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
Auto-Ethnography Assignment Due
WEEK THREE: September 16
From Engagement to Participation
§ Mark Duffet, “How Do People Become Fans?” Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Cultures(London: Bloomsbury, 2013)
§ Rhiannon Bury, “Fans, Fan Studies and the Participatory Continuum” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017)
§ Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green, “The Value of Media Engagement,” Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture(New York: New York University Press, 2013), 113-150.
§ danah boyd, Henry Jenkins, and Mimi Ito, “Defining Participatory Culture,” Participatory Culture in a Networked Era(London: Polity, 2014), 1-31.
WEEK FOUR: September 23
Tracing the History of Participatory Culture
§ Robert Darnton, "Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensibility," The Great Cat Massacre And Other Episodes in French Cultural History (New York: Basic, 2009)
§ Daniel Cavicchi, Foundational Discourses of Fandom” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Alexandra Edwards, “Literature Fandom and Literary Fans” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Andre M. Carrington, “Josh Brandon’s Blues: Inventing the Black Fan,” Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2016).
§ Helen Merrick, “FLAWOL: The Making of Fannish Feminisms,” The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms (New York: Aqueduct, 2019).
WEEK FIVE: SEPTEMBER 30
§ Neta Kligler Vilenchik, “’Decreasing World Suck’: Harnessing Popular Culture for Fan Activism,” in Henry Jenkins et al., By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (New York: New York University Press, 2016).
§ Henry Jenkins, Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson and Neta Kligler Vilenchik, “Superpowers to the People: How Young Activists are Tapping the Civic Imagination,” in Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis (eds.) Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice(Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016).
§ Ashley Hink, “The Nerdfighter’s YouTube Project for Awesome,” Politics for the Love of Fandom: Fan-Based Citizenship in the Digital World (New Orleans: Louisiana University Press, 2019).
§ Lori Kido Lopez, "Fan Activists and the Politics of Race in The Last Airbender."International Journal of Cultural Studies 15 (5): 431–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1367877911422862.
WEEK SIX: October 7
The Contested Social Dynamics of Fandom
§ Bertha Chin, “It’s About Who You Know’: Social Capital, Hierarchies and Fandom” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Dayna Chapman, “Black Twitter and the Politics of Viewing Scandal” in Jonathan Gray, Cornell Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington (eds.) Fandom: Identities and Communities in A Mediated World (New York: New York University Press, 2017).
§ Sarah Florini, “Enclaving and cultural resonance in Black "Game of Thrones" fandom” In "Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color," edited by Abigail De Kosnik and andré carrington, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 29. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1498.
§ Benjamin Woo, “The Invisible Bag of Holding: Whiteness and Media Fandom” Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
§ Stanfill, Mel. 2011. "Doing Fandom, (Mis)doing Whiteness: Heteronormativity, Racialization, and the Discursive Construction of Fandom." In "Race and Ethnicity in Fandom," edited by Robin Anne Reid and Sarah Gatson, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 8.https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0256
§ Suzanne Scott, “Interrogating the Fake Geek Fan Girl: The Spreadable Misogyny of Contemporary Fan Culture,” Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender and the Contemporary Culture Industry (New York: New York University Press, 2019).
WEEK SEVEN: October 14
§ Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto, “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom,” Participations, May 2013, http://www.participations.org/Volume%2010/Issue%201/7%20Chin%20&%20Morimoto%2010.1.pdf
§ Miranda Ruth Larsen, “Fandom and Otaku” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Bertha Chin, Aswin Punathembekar, Sangita Shresthova, ‘Advancing Transcultural Fandom: A Conversation” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
§ Rukmini Pande, “Can’t Stop the Signal: Online Media Fandom as Postcolonial Cyberspace,” Squee From the Margins: Fandom and Race(Iowa City” University of Iowa Press, 2019).
§ Mizuko Ito, “Contributors Versus Leechers: Fansubbing Ethics and a Hybrid Public Space,” in Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe and Izumi Tsuji (eds.) Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012)
WEEK EIGHT: October 21
Performing Fan Identities
§ Ellen Kirkpatrick, "On [Dis]play: Outlier Resistance and the Matter of Racebending Superhero Cosplay." In "Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color," edited by Abigail De Kosnik and andré carrington, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 29. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1483.
§ Samantha Close, “Fannish masculinities in transition in anime music video fandom,” Transformative Works and Cultures, 2016 http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/713
§ Rebecca Williams, “Fan Tourism and Pilgrimage” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
§ Nicole Lamerichs,”Fan Fashion: Re-Enacting Hunger Games Through Clothing and Design,” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Richard Dyer, “Judy Garland and Gay Men,” Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society(London: McMillian, 1986)
WEEK NINE: October 28
Fan Production: Fan Fiction
§ Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Amy Stornaiuolo,“Race, Storying and Restorying: What We Can Learn From Black Fans?”In "Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color," edited by Abigail De Kosnik and andré carrington, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 29. https://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1562.
§ Julie Levin Russo, “The Queer Politics of Femslash” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
§ Francesca Coppa “Five Things Fan Fiction Is and One Thing It Isn’t,” The Fan Fiction Reader: Folk Tales for the Digital Age(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2017.)
§ Rukmini Pande and Swati Moitra, “‘Yes, the Evil Queen Is Latina!’: Racial Dynamics of Online Femslash Fandoms,” ed. Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, Transformative Works and Cultures24 (2017). http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2017.908.
§ Francesca Coppa and Rebecca Tushnett, “Transformative” in Keywords in Remix Studies (London: Routledge, 2018).
WEEK TEN: November 4
Fan Production:Vidding and Fan Art
§ Tisha Turk and Joshua Johnson. 2012. "Toward an Ecology of Vidding." In "Fan/Remix Video," edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 9. https://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/326/294
§ Katherine Freund, “Becoming a Part of the Storytelling: Fan Vidding Practices and Histories” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Jessica Seymour, “Racebending and Prosumer Fan Art Practices in Harry Potter Fandom” in Paul Booth (ed.) A Companion of Media Fandom and Fan Studies(New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2017).
§ Francesca Coppa, Alex Lothian, Tisha Turk, “Vidding and Identity: A Conversation” in Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Fandom Studies(London: Routledge, 2017).
§ Abigail De Kosnik, “Queer and Feminist Archival Cultures: The Politics of Preserving Fan Works,” Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom(Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016).
WEEK ELEVEN: November 11
Fandom and Authorship
§ Suzanne Scott, “Who’s Steering the Mothership?: The Role of the Fanboy Auteur in Transmedia Storytelling,” and Henry Jenkins, “The Guiding Spirit and the Powers That Be: A Response to Suzanne Scott,” in Aaron Delwiche and Jennifer Jacobs Henderson (eds.) The Participatory Cultures Handbook(New York: Routledge, 2012)
§ Henry Jenkins, “Out of the Closet and Into the Universe’: Queers and Star Trek,” Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers(New York: New York University Press, 2006).
§ James Rendell. 2019. "Black (Anti)fandom's Intersectional Politicization of The Walking Dead as a Transmedia Franchise." In "Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color," edited by Abigail De Kosnik and andré carrington, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 29. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1477.
§ Henry Jenkins,“Noncompliants, Brimpers and She-Romps: Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals, and Their Publics”in Frederick Luis Aldama (ed.) The Oxford Companion of Comic Book Studies(London: Oxford University Press, 2019).
§ (Rec) Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/Gustafson/FILM%20162.W10/readings/foucault.author.pdf
WEEK TWELVE: November 18
Fan Labor, Moral Economy, and the Gift Economy
§ Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green, “What Went Wrong with Web 2.0,” Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture(New York: New York University Press, 2013)
§ Mark Andrejevic, "Exploiting YouTube: Contradictions of User-Generated Labor," in Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau (eds.), The YouTube Reader(Stockholm: National Library of Sweden, 2009
§ Tisha Turk, “Fan Work: Labor, Worth, and Participation in Fandom’s Gift Economy,” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 15. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2014.0518.
§ John Campbell, “Whistle While You Work: Alienation, Exploitation, and the Immaterial Labor of Disney Fans,” (Work in Progress)
§ Mel Stanfill, “Fandom And/As Labor” Exploiting Fandom: How the Media Industry Seeks to Manipulate Fans(Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. 2019).
WEEK THIRTEEN: November 25
§ John Bloom, "Cardboard Patriarchy: Adult Baseball Card Collecting and the Nostalgia for a Presexual Past," in Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson and Jane Shattuc (eds.) Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture(Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2002)
§ Brigid Cherry,“Fandom, Textiles, Gender,”Cult Media, Fandom, and Textiles (London: Bloomsbury,2018).
§ Bob Rehak, “Materializing monsters: Aurora models, garage kits and the object practices of horror fandom,” Journal of Fandom Studies1(1), November 2012
§ Benjamin Woo,“A pragmatics of things: Materiality and constraint in fan practices,” Transformative Works and Cultures, 2014, http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/495/437
WEEK FOURTEEN: December 2
Fan Expertise, Taste and Mastery
§ Jonathan Gray, “How Do I Dislike Thee? Let Me Count the Ways,” and Melissa A. Click, “Haters Gonna Hate” in Melissa A. Click (ed.) Anti-fandom: Dislike and Hate in the Digital Age(New York: New York University Press, 2019).
§ Alan McKee, "Which is the Best Doctor WhoStory? A Case Study in Value Judgment Outside the Academies,"Intensities1, 2001
§ Henry Jenkins, “Spoiling Survivor,” Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New York University Press, 2006)
§ Nancy Baym "Participatory Boundaries" Playing to the Crowd: Musicians, Audiences, and the Intimate Work of Connection(New York: New York University Press, 2018)
§ Cornel Sandvoss, "The Inner Fan: Fandom and Psychoanalysis" in Fans: The Mirror of Consumption(Cambridge: Polity, 2005)
Final Essay Due (TBA)