Geeks, Fanboys and Stalker ChicksUW 1020 Spring 2013
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"Most people are fans of something. If not, they are bound to know someone who is. As much as we all have a sense of who fans are and what they do, the questions arises as to why we need to further study a phenomenon we seem so familiar with. Why do the questions of which television program, music, or artist we follow make an important contribution to our understanding of modern life? How can a focus on pleasure and entertainment be justified at the end of what will enter the history books as a centruy of violence, driven by rapid social, cultural, economic and technological change, and with the twenty first century set to follow the same trajectory? What contribution can the study of fans make to a world faced with war, ethnic conflict, widening inequality, political and religious violence, and irreversible climate change among other disasters?"
Thus begins the Introduction to Fandom, edited by Jonanthan Gray, Cornell Sandvoss and C. Lee Harrington. We will begin here as well, posing these questions and identifying others that may also need to be asked. Before we do so however, there is another question we need to ask: Why this topic for a writing course? First and foremost the primary mode of fan participation has become writing (fan participation in online forums, on their own blogs, in fan communities, through the writing of fan fiction). Fandom is about publically sharing thoughts and feelings with others. It is also about the move from consumption to production, from passively absorbing information to working with a text to make it one's own. In short, it is the very model of university writing. For academics, writing in such a relatively young field presents its own set of challenges and rewards. While there is a growing body of research on the topic there is still much to be done. The topic is multi-disciplinary; sociologists, psychologists, media scholars, and journalists have all had input into the field. Therefore academics drawn to the field also must wrestle, perhaps more than most, with issues of audience and tone. Are they writing as academics or fans themselves? Are they writing to other fans or to other academics? We will be engaging with these issues - audience and tone - over the course of the semester.