OTW Guest Post: Ann McClellan

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Interviews by Fans
Title: OTW Guest Post: Ann McClellan
Interviewer: Claudia Rebaza
Interviewee: Ann McClellan
Date(s): April 30, 2017
Medium: online
External Links: OTW Guest Post: Ann McClellan – Organization for Transformative Works, Archived version
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OTW Guest Post: Ann McClellan is a 2017 interview done as part of a series. See OTW Guest Post.

"Ann McClellan is Professor and Chair of English at Plymouth State University where she teaches classes on 19th and 20th century British Literature, film/adaptation studies, and digital literature. Her scholarship interests include Sherlock Holmes and/in popular culture and British women’s campus fiction. Today, Ann talks about her article on Sherlock Holmes fandom in the latest issue of Transformative Works and Cultures."

Some Excerpts

How did you first become aware of fandom and fanworks?

In a sense, I always ‘knew’ about fandom through my own research and teaching interests in adaptation studies, but no one ever called such texts “fan texts” when I was in school. I’ve long been interested in how ‘authorized’ writers and filmmakers have colonized and transformed canonical texts like The Scarlet Letter, Jane Austen’s novels, and Shakespeare’s plays, but it wasn’t until a friend introduced me to Sherlock when it premiered on PBS in 2010 that I really learned about fan culture and fandom more specifically.

Of course, events like ComicCon had already entered the contemporary zeitgeist by 2010 when Sherlock reached the US, so I was aware of such gatherings, but I had no idea how pervasive and diverse they were until my own explorations in online Sherlock fandom beginning in 2011. I can’t remember the precise reason or prompt, but I began researching Sherlock online and discovered LiveJournal and fan fiction for the first time—in my forties! I instantly became addicted to the serial nature of fan fiction and writers’ ability to immerse me into the show’s world through various ‘fix it’ fics, AU fantasies, slash, and other genres. Soon, this new world of fan fiction became my personal and professional obsession and my previous plan to write a book on Sherlock Holmes in popular culture quickly morphed into a book on Sherlock fan fiction and world building.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

I’m incredibly impressed by the level of passion, intelligence, and dedication in fandom. Media so often denigrates popular culture fandom (often because it seems to be aligned with female fan activity, while ‘masculine’ fandoms like sports fandoms are seen as ‘normal’ and acceptable in American and UK culture). But when one looks deeply into different fan communities, one is more often impressed by the level of skill and dedication evident in various fan works.

Because my interest is primarily in fan fiction, I’m amazed by all of these writers who spend thousands of hours writing fanfics, for other fans, for free. This requires an amazing amount of work, just to immerse themselves in something they -— and others -— love, and I love that passion. It’s made me proud and much more vocal about my own interests; it’s liberating to own the things you love.