Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction

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Academic Commentary
Title: Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction
Commentator: Rebecca W. Black
Date(s): 2008
Medium: book
External Links:
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Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction is a 2008 non-fiction pro book by Rebecca Black. The book was published by Peter Lang as part of the series New literacies and digital epistemologies.

Reactions & Reviews

Really enjoyable book, with some interesting insights about the fan fiction community. I particularly appreciated the observation that negotiating and protesting restrictions on fanfics is a way of self-educatiing in the process of being a citizen.[1]
This book uses current educational theory to discuss adolescent fan fiction. The book is useful in that it attempts to argue for the importance of fan fiction as an educational tool in promoting literacy. It also points out the fundamental discordances between the way knowledge is structured and delivered in schools and the way fan writing and communities work. However some of the characterisations of what is happening in schools are perhaps a little old fashioned – but this might in fact be a reflection of what is occurring in American classrooms and as such does not necessarily apply outside the USA.

Unfortunately the author only offers rather vague suggestions as to how teachers might work with fan fiction and their students. It could indeed be done but would require teachers who were very experienced and knowledgeable in terms of how fandoms, media technology and social networking operate.

But this is definitely a start. Fandom and fan fiction have been highly stigmatised, and given fan fiction is the fastest growing type of writing in the world today it is good to see some recognition from the educational sector of this form of literary engagement.[2]

This is definitely an academic text, not for light reading. I picked this up because my own PhD research heads into similar territory and I need to read an ethnography completed with adolescents in online spaces. Rebecca Black answered a lot of my questions about both research ethics and affinity spaces with this text, but I also enjoyed reading about the fascinating lives of teens who write Card Captor Sakura fan fiction on This is a must-read for anyone doing virtual ethnography involving adolescents![3]
I am a fan of Rebecca W. Black’s scholarship. From the introduction of Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction to the closing chapter, Black demonstrates an expertise in second-language acquisition, literary studies, and fanfiction practices that is unparalleled in the field. Readers who are new to fan fiction as a genre are in for a treat; those who write fan fiction themselves will find nuanced approaches to theory, methodology, and practice that only Black could bring to a book of this kind. But what excites me most about the book is its potential to ignite an interest and enduring respect in educators’ thinking about young people’s serious engagement with fan fiction.[4]

External links


  1. Review by Emma Sea; archive link on Goodreads
  2. Review by Clare O'Farrell; archive link
  3. Review by Tara Anderson Gold; archive link on Goodreads
  4. Review by Donna E. Alvermann, included on the back cover of the book