The Fan Fiction Studies Reader

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Academic Commentary
Title: The Fan Fiction Studies Reader
Commentator: editors, Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson
Date(s): 2014
Medium: edited book
Fandom: multi, meta
External Links: Publishers page, Googlebooks
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is a collection of acafannish essays edited by Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson. It is a reprint anthology that republishes earlier scholarship to showcase the history of fan fiction studies. The editors provide extensive introductions and references for the collection itself and each of the four subsections. All royalties of the reader go to the OTW, which helped finance the reprint fees. [1] While using mostly older, foundational texts and effectively solidifying a canon of fan studies, they argue that a good knowledge of the past helps analyze the future and offer links and summaries of more recent essays to indicate where these areas are heading and what more recent scholarship has added:

This collection shows the historical roots of fan studies, and even as fan studies is expanding and moving in new directions it remains vital to know where we came from in order to understand where we are headed. Many current ideas continue the approaches that have successfully served the study of early Internet and pre-Internet fan studies, and it is crucial to see these connections. At the same time, it is important not to assume that the current status quo was always such and to look at the developments, both fannish and academic, that have gotten us here. Fundamental shifts have occurred in reaction to the changing fan-producer relations, the changing demographics of fans, and the wider accessibility of texts, in large part as a result of technological shifts but also as a result of the changing theoretical frameworks of media and cultural studies. We argue, however, that it is exactly because the field has changed and the discipline is growing that this collection is important. It shows the historical roots of fan studies, indicating both similarities and differences from the work that is being done right now—and in the future.
The overview preceding each section traces the central ideas of the articles that follow, including identification of the texts that have influenced—and that have been influenced by—related essays, as well as a summary of intersections with other essays addressing similar concerns. We thus situate the essays historically and thematically. But we also point toward the various trajectories of their central ideas. Literary and cultural phenomenon are important to consider together in order to contextualize events, but it requires an approach that shows how ideas have developed and evolved over time to fully understand the fannish and academic moments that have led to this present. By showcasing a selection of the central texts of fan fiction studies and introducing readers to the academic scholars who have founded and continue to add to the discipline, we offer the necessary context to understand what fan studies offers today—a world that has changed entirely, but one that is not all that different than that of the Star Trek–loving scribbling ladies of nearly half a century ago. (16-17)

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Why a Fan Fiction Studies Reader Now?

Part 1. Fan Fiction as Literature.

Part 2. Fan Identity and Feminism

Part 3. Fan Communities and Affect

Part 4. Fan Creativity and Performance

  • Kurt Lancaster, Performing in Babylon Performing in Everyday Life
  • Francesca Coppa, Writing Bodies in Space: Media Fan Fiction as Theatrical Performance


  1. OTW Produces Fan Fiction Studies Reader