Fansplaining: Stephanie Burt: Part 1

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Podcast Episode
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Episode Title: Stephanie Burt: Part 1
Length: 1:06:55
Featured: Elizabeth Minkel, Flourish Klink, Stephanie Burt
Date: Feb 7, 2018
Fandom: Pan-Fandom, Comics Fandom
External Links: Episode 67: Stephanie Burt: Part 1, archive link (includes audio, transcript, and show notes)
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Fansplaining: Stephanie Burt: Part 1 is an episode of the podcast Fansplaining by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel. Many topics are discussed, but there is a particular focus on how fan studies and various other types of academia treat feelings (including feelings of fannish obsessions).


"Episode 67, “Stephanie Burt: Part 1,” is the first half of a conversation with Stephanie Burt, a Harvard poetry professor and comics fangirl. In this segment, they discuss poetry criticism, the similarities between fanfic and hardcore punk, taste and quality, situating your critical perspective, and the way various academic fields—from fan studies to the English department—treat feeeeeeeeeelings."[1]

Topics Discussed


[SB] "I have been in and out of mainstream comics fandom and in and out of print-based, word-based science fiction fandom since the mid-’80s, and I would say that I’m definitely very much in those spaces now—and I’m in those spaces as a participant and as a critic, as someone who’s in those spaces in a lot of ways, both of those spaces, which are conventionally thought of as fannish spaces, and they are more and more part of the teaching and of the academic or quasi-academic critical work that I do." [1]

[SB] "[...] then my life as a writer and as a consumer of media has become more and more invested in and interested in and affected by the questions of what’s amateur, what do you do for love, what’s the difference between admiring something and being really into it, when does getting paid by the New York Times book review to write about something change the way you feel about it, what’s the difference between writing about Achilles and writing about Wolverine—all those questions that if you ask them wrong are stupid gatekeeping questions, but if you ask them right lead to really deep answers about why we love what we love and how we talk about it. I mean, there’s more answers than that, but that’s probably enough." [1]

[ELM] "But I wonder if there is any other art form that is actually analogous to fanfiction in the way of, fanfiction is, or fanworks are, singularly positioned in this space where the vast majority of people don’t see them as “maybe I’ll be the one to hit the jackpot.” “Maybe I’ll be the one to win the one poetry prize that lifts me into…” With poetry the stakes are so…not necessarily low, but they’re limited. There’s not a massive audience you can tap into, right? It’s more about…you know what I mean? Fanworks still have that ceiling."[1]

In response:

[Stephanie B] "There are kinds of song-form music that people get very heavily invested in and very heavily invested in the amateurism of. In, “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna find my friends there, I’m gonna devote a lot of my life to making and sharing and circulating and defending this kind of music, and I will travel to places where this music is played, to meet other people who play it, and it’s clearly not something that almost anyone makes a living out of.” This is what hardcore punk was for a lot of people who were in that world."[1]

On fan studies:

[SB] "Because there are multiple traditions of approaching through the academy works of art. Right? And we’re really talking about works of art. A Belle & Sebastian song or a 30,000 word MCU fic, or Middlemarch or a string quartet or whatever, they’re all works of art. And the question is, how do we talk about works of art and why people care about works of art and how people care and what we do because we care."[1]

On taste:

[FK] "And I genuinely thought “I will never—even though I like a lot of fics, I’m never gonna be able to recommend a fic that is this good, and what’s more you have real taste and I have fake taste.”"[1]