Fandom Studies

What is academia if not a bunch of people who really like a specific thing so much they build entire curricula around it? Fandom studies (or fan studies) studies those who do that outside of (or inside) the "official" sites of knowledge prodution. Everyone is a fan of something, so why not explore fandom as a fan (of fandom)?


Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace by Janet H. Murray

Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships by Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen

Despite having only seen a single episode of Supernatural, this exploration of the complicated relationship between the show's fans, producers, and the authors themselves was a delight to read. How does the entertainment industry encourage fans to interact with it in specific, normative ways, and how do fans police one another within their fandoms? Then, how does one account for being a fan of the thing you are trying to critique? Zubernis and Larsen examine this reciprocal relationship with tact (and a little bit of giddy joy) in this lovely analysis of fandom.

Squee from the Margins: Fandom and Race by Rukmini Pande

Pande picks up on a concerning trend in both fandom and fandom studies: a surprising amount of "fan objects" come from the US and the UK. Even though fandom stretches across the globe, fandom's self-policing tends to encourage a default perspective ("white, cisgender, middle-class women located in the United States or the United Kingdom") that enforces the use of English, discourages the proliferation of non-Western media, and subjects non-white fans to racism and hate (5). Yet within this online quagmire, Pande finds fandom studies to be in a position to not only highlight the continued divides between race, class, and sex but to help elevate fan works and fan discussions from around the world.

Specific Media Fandoms

Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds by Joseph P. Laycock

Alright, this one isn't technically a fan studies text. But Dangerous Games digs into fan cultures as they developed during and after the Satanic Panic in the US (generally marked from the late 1970s to mid-90s). How do RPG players consider their characters and fantasy worlds, and how does that practice differ from (or mirror) established cultural practices like religious belief? Joseph Laycock's book has proven quite the resource in recent years amid fears of threats real and imagined.