Acafan conversation

This week, my contribution to a set of debates about scholars’ personal relationships between academia and fandom (broadly defined) goes live at Henry Jenkins‘s blog. The whole set of conversations, which will be mirrored at Dreamwidth, is well worth a look.

For me, one of the best parts has been to see the different influences on my thinking come together. I’ve been mentored unofficially by fan studies scholars, particularly Kristina Busse, for years, and have learned so much from being part of that community. At the same time, I’ve been trained in queer studies by Jack Halberstam and Karen Tongson, and have had many conversations about fandom with them and with scholars like Christine Bacareza Balance and Jayna Brown. Since Henry Jenkins joined USC, I’ve started to have those worlds come together on my doorstep––and now they are all talking to each other online.

Roberta Pearson and I have very different experiences of both academia and fandom; she works on industry and looks at hierarchies of taste and value, while I am concerned with texts’ and cultures’ theoretical and political interventions around queerness, race, gender, and capitalism. I enjoyed corresponding with her very much, though, and learned a lot from her responses to my comments. It gave me the opportunity to articulate my relationship to fandom more concretely than I have before.

Roberta Pearson in conversation with Alexis Lothian, part one

I don’t want only to study fans or to use fans’ ideas to make sense of texts, although those are certainly dynamics that I engage in. I tend to prefer to think about fandom as a set of communities where people are engaging in cultural production, intellectual exchange and concrete worldmaking that participates in the same project as the one I’m working on.

Roberta Pearson in conversation with Alexis Lothian, part two

When I talk about acafandom, I’m talking at least partly about acknowledging and doing justice to my own thinking’s debt to fannish theorists and artists outside the academia machine who have given me terms and ideas that help me theorize just as much as the dense analyses and critical explorations of literary and cultural studies do.

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2 thoughts on “Acafan conversation

  1. skylights brisbane

    Actually I just read that post on Henry Jenkins blog (a long read!) as my mother just finished a PHD on a very similar subject. She focussed more on how certain celebreties have built up social media “fans” over the last few years without actually having any real output in terms of themselves. Think reality t.v. and viral youtube stars.So it’s interesting to rea opinions of peoplw who have obviously spent a long time studying these phenomena