Transformative Works and Cultures

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Academic Commentary
Title: Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC)
Commentator: acafen
Date(s): 2008-present
Medium: online
Fandom: panfandom
External Links:

Subpages for Transformative Works and Cultures:
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Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is a peer-reviewed academic journal that seeks to promote scholarship on fanworks and practices. It comes out twice a year and is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works.

TWC defines its purview as

"articles about media studies; and articles about the fan community. We invite papers in all areas, including fan fiction, fan vids, film, TV, anime, comic books, fan community, Category:Video Games, and machinima. We encourage a variety of critical approaches, including feminism, gender studies, queer theory, postcolonial theory, audience theory, reader-response theory, literary criticism, film studies, and posthumanism. We also encourage authors to consider writing personal essays integrated with scholarship; hyperlinked articles; or other forms that test the limits of the genre of academic writing.[1]


These often interdisciplinary essays with a conceptual focus and a theoretical frame offer expansive interventions in the field of fan studies. Theory essays undergo blind peer review. (5,000–8,000 words, plus a 100–250-word abstract)


These essays analyze the particular, in contrast to Theory's broader vantage. They may apply a specific theory to a formation or artifact; explicate fan practice; perform a detailed reading of a specific text; or otherwise relate transformative phenomena to social, literary, technological, and/or historical frameworks. Praxis essays undergo blind peer review. (4,000–7,000 words, plus a 100–250-word abstract)


Inspired by The Fanfic Symposium, a meta website which ran from 1999 to 2006, TWC publishes "Symposium", a section of the journal for non-peer reviewed essays:

"Parallel to academia's tradition of compact essays, often published as letters, fandom has its own vibrant history of criticism, some of which has been collected at the Symposium archive. In the spirit of this history, TWC's Symposium is a section of concise, thematically contained essays. These short pieces provide insight into current developments and debates surrounding any topic related to fandom or transformative media and cultures. Symposium submissions undergo editorial review." [2]

The Symposium Blog[3] associated with TWC posts updates more frequently and posts infomal meta, to create a "bridge between the OTW’s academic journal and fannish discussions, through posts that discuss both fannish meta topics and fannish perspectives on fan and media studies." [4]


Reviews offer critical summaries of items of interest in the fields of fan and media studies, including books, new journals, and web sites. Reviews incorporate a description of the item's content, an assessment of its likely audience, and an evaluation of its importance in a larger context. Review submissions undergo editorial review. (1,500–2,500 words)


Interviews are editorially reviewed and can be submitted by readers or solicited by editors.


The multimedia section includes essays that are primarily not textual, i,.e., video curation (Ian Roberts, Genesis of the digital anime music video scene, 1990–2001; Jonathan McIntosh, A history of subversive remix video before YouTube: Thirty political video mashups made between World War II and 2005) or experimental pieces (Alexandra Juhasz, Fred rant).


The first issue of TWC appeared on September 15, 2008. It includes Francesca Coppa's seminal essay on the history of vidding, Women, "Star Trek," and the early development of fannish vidding, and a range of essays on fandom and fan works from Abigail DeKosnik on politics as fandom and Anne Kustritz on The Story of Obi to Rebecca Busker on meta discourses in fandom and an interview with Henry Jenkins.

The second issue (March 15, 2009) is a special topic issue on "Games as transformative works," edited by Rebecca Carlson. The issue combines various accounts of online play, especially World of Warcraft, with essays ranging from card collectors and table-top and live action role-playing games to chiptunes and machinima.

The third issue appeared on September 15, 2009. This general issue expanded the range of the journal with essays on quilting, fannish wikis, and filk communities as well as an important reflection on fannish race conversations with Pattern recognition: A dialogue on racism in fan communities

The fourth issue (March 15, 2010) is a special Supernatural issue, "Saving People, Hunting Things," edited by Catherine Tosenberger. The issue approaches the television show and its fandom from a variety of disciplines and approaches and discusses the role of religious, the supernatural, and folklore as well fannish creations ranging from specific fanvids and mpreg.

The fifth issue appeared on September 15, 2010. This general issue contained a range of essays on various forms of fan production (including fan subbing and fan films) with a particular emphasis on concerns of the body and disability in fandom.

The sixth issue appeared in April 2011. "Fan Works and Fan Communities in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," special history issue guest edited by Nancy Reagin, Pace University, and Anne Rubenstein, York University.

The seventh issue appeared in August 2011 and was a general issue with several articles about aspects of fan identity.

The eighth issue appeared in November 2011 and was a double guest-edited issue on the topics of "Race and Ethnicity in Fandom", guest edited by Robin Anne Reid and Sarah N. Gatson; and "Textual Echoes", guest edited by Cyber Echoes.

The ninth issue appeared in March 2012. "Fan/Remix Video," special issue of TWC guest edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo.

The tenth issue appeared in June 2012. Transformative Works and Fan Activism, guest edited by Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova, University of Southern California

The eleventh issue appeared in September 2012.

The twelfth issue appeared in March 2013. Transnational Boys' Love Fan Studies, guest edited by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma (Oita University).

The 13th issue appeared in June 2013. Appropriating, Interpreting, and Transforming Comic Books, guest edited by Matthew Costello, St. Xavier University, Chicago.

The 14th issue appeared in September 2013.

The 15th issue appeared in March 2014. Fandom and/as Labor, guest edited by Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign).

The 16th issue appeared in June 2014. Materiality and Object-Oriented Fandom, guest edited by Bob Rehak (Swarthmore College).

The 17th issue appeared in September 2014.

The 18th issue appeared in March 2015. Performance and performativity in fandom, guest edited by Lucy Bennett (Cardiff University) and Paul J. Booth (DePaul University).

The 19th issue appeared in June 2015. Transnationalism, localization, and translation in European fandom: Fan studies as global media and audience studies, guest edited by Anne Kustritz (University of Amsterdam).

The 20th issue appeared in September 2015. The anniversary was commemorated by OTW communications with three events: a special post on Symposium, Symposium By and For Fans; an interview with three contributors, Spotlight on Journal: Twentieth Issue Celebration; and a chat session with several Symposium contributors, see TWC Panel Chat: 2015.

Upcoming special editions include:

Special Issue: The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work (March 2016) We invite papers treating classical literature/art as fan work; papers on contemporary fannish uses/transformations of ancient Greek and Roman literature, mythology, or history; papers investigating similarities and differences between contemporary transformative fan work and classical literature and art; and papers reflecting on what is at stake in making the comparison. Guest edited by Ika Willis (University of Wollongong).

Special Issue: Sherlock Holmes Fandom, Sherlockiana, and the Great Game (March 2017) This special issue seeks to engage both academics and fans in writing about the older, long established Sherlockian fandom. We welcome papers that address all fandoms of Sherlock Holmes and its adaptations, particularly those that trace the connections and similarities/differences among and between older and newer fandoms. Guest edited by Betsy Rosenbaum (Whittier) and Roberta Pearson (Nottingham).

Special Issue: Queer Female Fandom (June 2017) This special issue is the first dedicated to femslash, and it aims to collect and put in dialogue emerging research and criticism on the subject, from histories of lesbian fandom to current fan activities around queer female characters and pairings. Guest edited by Julie Levin Russo (Evergreen State College).

Copyright and Licenses

TWC is a Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works, copyrighted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. TWC has been submitted for indexing in all major academic databases, open access directories, and services such as Google Scholar.

Zotero index

Bibliographical data for all articles published in TWC is recorded in Zotero as a subcollection of the Fan studies bibliography, a project affiliated with the journal.

See also: Bibliographical list of all articles with links

Editorial Team

The editorial team for 2007 - present includes:


Review editors

  • Deborah Kaplan (#1)
  • Veruska Sabucco (#2-#4)
  • Mafalda Stasi (#1-#5)
  • Tisha Turk (#3-#5)
  • Cynthia W. Walker (#1-#3)
  • Louisa Stein (#6-#22)

Symposium editors

Production editors


  • Karen Hellekson (#1-#20)
  • Margie Gillis (#1-#2)
  • Shoshanna Green (#1, #3-#17, #19-#20)
  • Ed Greengrass (#3)
  • Mara Greengrass (#1-#4, #10)
  • Vickie West (#2, #5-#8)
  • Beth Friedman (#5-#14, #17-#20)
  • Christine Mains (#13-#20)

Layout editors

  • Karen Hellekson (#1-#20)
  • Wendy M. Carr (#4, #6-#9, #10-#13)
  • Allison Morris (#4-#5, #7-#9)
  • Kristen Murphy (#4-#5, #7-#13)
  • Rrain Prior (#1-#4, #6, #14-#20)
  • Gretchen Treu (#5-#9)
  • Ekaterina Fawl (#7, #9)
  • sunusn (#10-#13)
  • Gabriel Simm (#18-#20)


  • Sarah Hazelton (#3-#4)
  • Vickie West (#3-#4 #6-#12, #15-#19)
  • Liza Q Wirtz (#1-#6)
  • Carmen Montopoli (#6-#16, #18-#19)
  • Jack Harrison (#6)
  • Kallista Angeloff (#10-#11)
  • Amanda Georgeanne Retartha (#10-#12, #15-#20)

Board (past and present)

Nancy Baym, Microsoft Research - Rebecca Black, UC Irvine - Paul Booth, DePaul U - Will Brooker, Kingston U - Rhiannon Bury, Athabasca U - Wendy Chun, Brown U - Melissa Click, U of Missouri - Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg C - Abigail De Kosnik, UC Berkeley - Paul Draper, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith U - Catherine Driscoll, U of Sydney - Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Pomona C - Sam Ford, Convergence Culture Consortium - Jonathan Gray, Fordham U - Judith Halberstam, USC - C. Lee Harrington, Miami U - Heather Hendershot, MIT - Matt Hills, Aberystwyth U - Henry Jenkins, USC - Derek Johnson, U of Wisconsin - Roz Kaveney, Independent - Derek Kompare, Southern Methodist U - Anne Kustritz, U of Amsterdam - Alexis Lothian, Indiana U of Pennsylvania - Elana Levine, U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee - Farah Mendlesohn, Middlesex U - Mark McLelland, U of Wollongong - Helen Merrick, Curtin U of Technology - Jason Mittell, Middlebury C - Lori Morimoto, independent - Whitney Phillips - New York U - Roberta Pearson, U of Nottingham - Sheenagh Pugh, U of Glamorgan - Aswin Punathambekar, U of Michigan - Bob Rehak, Swarthmore C - Robin Anne Reid, Texas A&M-Commerce - Sharon Ross, Columbia C Chicago - Julie Levin Russo, Evergreen State C - Cornel Sandvoss, U of Surrey - Avi Santo, Old Dominion - Suzanne Scott, Arizona State U - Mel Stanfill, Purdue U - Louisa Stein, Middlebury C - Catherine Tosenberger, U of Winnipeg - Rebecca Tushnet, Georgetown U Law Center - Ika Willis, U of Wollongong - Berit Åström, U of Umeå

Critical Reception


  1. TWC Index
  2. TWC Submission Guidelines
  3. The Symposium Blog
  4. About, Symposium blog site
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