Fan Studies

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Related terms: Acafan, fan-scholar
See also: Henry Jenkins, Transformative Works and Cultures, Fan Studies Network, Syllabi, Where Fandom Studies Came From: An Interview with Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson
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Fan studies (also called fandom studies) is the name given to the academic study and examination of fans and fandom. It is a highly interdisciplinary field with roots in cultural studies, and can be described as “[The study of] how groups of people or individuals interact with a text”,[1] where the “text” is any work of literature, film, music, television, or other media; an activity such as a sport; or a famous person.

In his article Fan Studies for Oxford Bibliographies, Henry Jenkins describes fan studies as “a field of scholarly research focused on media fans and fan cultures”.[2] However, the scope of fan studies goes beyond media to encompass fans and fan activity of all kinds, including sports fans, fans of celebrities, and even fans of fans. Paul Harris, in his essay ‘Fandom Studies’, writes that:

“As fandom studies stems from a cultural studies background, in a broader sense it has been used to look at the viewer’s reaction and interaction with many other cultural phenomena, including literature, games, sport, music, fashion and even politics. However, the topic has always had a close relationship with film and television studies, which is reflected by the amount of research that has been written and the use of film and television texts in core works within the area. Therefore, fandom studies within film and television can be considered a broad area of study on its own, as long as these connections to the overarching field of cultural studies are acknowledged.”[1]

There are few institutions that teach fan studies directly, although more options are becoming available to scholars as the field gains recognition. As a result, most scholars of fan studies come from a background in other fields, and come together to share research and connect with fellow scholars in online communities, fan studies journals and at fan studies conferences.

History and Origins of Fan Studies

Fan Studies Courses

See Syllabi.

Fan Studies Journals

Transformative Works and Cultures

Transformative Works and Cultures, or TWC, is an open-access, online-only, international peer-reviewed journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works. Its remit includes transformative works, articles about media studies, and articles about the fan community.[3]

TWC was first published in September 2008 and has published at least one general and one topic-specific issue per year. It typically publishes its issues in March and September, with the occasional extra issue in June and/or December. Its special topic issues have covered everything from games as transformative works to transnational boys' love fan studies, queer female fandom, and the classical canon and/as transformative work. The journal was founded by Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (2008-22). Its current editors are Mel Stanfill and Poe Johnson.

See Transformative Works and Cultures for more details.

Journal of Fandom Studies

The Popular Culture Studies Journal

The Popular Culture Studies Journal is an "academic, peer-reviewed, refereed journal for scholars, academics, and students from the many disciplines that study popular culture." The journal is managed by the Midwest Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (MPCA/ACA), and aims to support its members, as well as "scholars globally who recognize and support its mission based on expanding the way we view popular culture as a fundamental component within the contemporary world."[4]

Its first volume was published in 2013, and it has published 4 volumes to date. The journal is edited by Norma Jones.

Further Reading/Meta


  1. ^ a b Harris, P. (2014). Fandom Studies. (PDF) Accessed 02 July, 2017.
  2. ^ Jenkins, H. (2012). “Fan Studies.” Published 29 August, 2012. Accessed 02 July, 2017.
  3. ^ Transformative Works and Cultures, accessed 04 July 2017.
  4. ^ The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Accessed 04 July, 2017.