Curative Fandom

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Synonyms: curatorial fandom, affirmational fandom
See also: transformational fandom, affirmational fandom, blueprint culture
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Curative fandom was a category created by LordByronic in a 2015 Reddit thread, in which they defined it in opposition to transformative fandom, a category much like obsession_inc's Transformational Fandom.

The name "curative" fandom was intended to mean something derived from the idea of "curation," as in museum curation; the collection of and organization of information.[1]

Some fans have come to use the more accurate term curatorial fandom.

Comments by LordByronic:

"Note: The following has hella generalization. If you feel like this doesn't apply to you, congratulations, let me slow clap it out. Large fandoms--things like Doctor Who, or Supernatural, or Star Trek, or any superhero comic--tend to have unique and separate sides to them: curative and transformative. Curative fandom is all about knowledge. It's about making sure that everything is lined up and in order, knowing how it works, and finding out which one is the best. What is the Doctor Who canon? Who is the best Doctor? How do Weeping Angels work? Etc etc. Curative fandom is p. much the norm on reddit, especially r/gallifrey. Transformative fandom is about change. Let's write fic! Let's make art! Let's make a fan vid! Let's cosplay! Let's somehow change the text. Why is Three easier to ship, while Seven is more difficult? What would happen if ______? Transformative fandom is more or less the norm on tumblr. (And livejournal, and dreamwidth, and fanfiction websites, and...) Here's the big thing: there's a gender split. Find a random male fan, and they'll probably be in curative fandom. Pick a random transformative fandom-er, and they'll probably be female. Note that this is phrased in a very particular way--obviously there's guys who cosplay and write fic, obviously there's women who don't. But men tend to be in the curative fandom, while transformative fandom is predominately women--and/or queer people, POC, etc. Why? Because the majority of professionally-made media is catered towards a straight white male demographic, leaving little room for 'outsiders.' Outsiders who, if they want to see themselves in media, have to attack it and change it--hence slash fic, hence long essays claiming that Hermione Granger is black, hence canons (edit: slipped up, sorry. meant headcanons) about trans characters or genderqueer characters.

And then curative/male fandom tends to view most things that transformative/female fandom does with disdain. Why? Because, in their eyes, it devalues canon. Who cares about knowing about Tony Stark's lovers if somebody's gonna write a fic where Toni Stark is flying about? Their power is lessened. Scream of the Shalka is unambiguously not canon--but it doesn't have to be in order for me to read and enjoy a 30k fic where the robotic Master was secretly in the TARDIS during Nine and Ten's time and they shagged behind the scenes. Canon? No, but who gives a shit? [2]

LordByronic adds in a follow-up post: "Throughout my post, I'm essentially using curative fandom/transformative fandom as synonyms for reddit/tumblr, as it's where the two halves tend to congregate. By and large, the transformative or 'female' side of fandom tends to be more open to/accepting of discussions of the problematic aspects of the work."[3]

Curative fandom seems a compliment to affirmational fandom as well as Bob Rekah's notion of blueprint culture; that is, an interest in the technical aspects of the canon, such as schematics of the Millennium Falcon or the bridge of the USS Enterprise.


Some have criticized the concept for being ableist towards autistic people or unnecessarily gendered. Others think the concept has been used in a divisive way and that people should take a more balanced approach, or at least stop arguing with people who prefer one way over the other.

not to be petty but the divide between “curatorial” and “transformative” fandom is completely arbitrary and a gross oversimplification of how many people who engage with transformative work do so and what their relationship with the canon is. like it’s totally valid to not be a human-shaped canon.wikia or to not even want to be, but i’m really sick of this whole “ah yes curative fandom for boys and transformative fandom for non-boys, because boys dont want for rep and dont seek out new and better things with the characters they love” thing. its shitty and in no way actually describes the reality of the complexity of fandom. also it gives me, specifically, dysphoria


Neither approach is intrinsically good or bad, despite what people who lean extremely far one way or the other would have you think. In fact, it's good to use both approaches. When fanfic writers have no respect for canon, their works often bear so little resemblance to the source material that they can barely be called fanfics at all. When they stick to canon so rigidly that they refuse to take even the smallest creative liberty, their fanfictions become little more than rehashes of canon stories. Problems arise when a fan with strong leanings toward either mindset decides to get up in other people's business and tell them what they should or shouldn't do.

Curatorial Fans, Transformative Fans, & How Both Can Be Obnoxious by Syera Miktayee.


  1. ^ Comments at LordByronic comments on Tumblr-bashing -why? (Or why not?), Archived version "...Welp, that's what I get for assuming that 'curative' could also mean 'to curate.' How about that. I'm sorry for the confusion. As for the term 'transformative,' I was using the language from the Organization for Transformative Works."
  2. ^ LordByronic comments on Tumblr-bashing -why? (Or why not?), Archived version
  3. ^ Reply by LordBryonic at "/u/LordByronic illustrates the difference between fandoms on Tumblr and Reddit." by whyyesthat in bestof. (deleted? see posts by LordByronic)