13th October Track 1
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
This salon will explore how we make sense of embodied fan identities in real-world spaces. These analyses of embodied fandom, broadly conceived, should be placed in direct conversation with how lived identity markers such as race, age, ability, size, gender or gender presentation, sexuality, and nationality shape the fan experience and/or interact with hegemonic understandings of “fan identity.” The goal of this salon is to explore to what degree our understanding of the phenomenological or affective experience of “fan identity” manifests in and/or is or performed through various embodied fan performances and practices.
Participants: Suzanne Scott, University of Texas Austin; Jessica Haustch, Stony Brook University; Rebecca Rowe; EJ Nielsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Ashley Smalls; Alexandra Harlig; Liz Laurie
noon to 1:30 p.m.
Superhero fandom is often thought of as a predominantly white male space. Because of this, there have been a number of controversies involving diversity and identity in superhero texts. Such incidents include a 2017 interview in which Marvel Comics’ vice president of sales David Gabriel said that fans “didn’t want any more diversity,” as well as the widely circulated false claim that Captain Marvel lead actress Brie Larson did not want white men to see the 2019 movie. Recent research suggests both media producers and fans are responsible for creating “a narrow, frequently gendered, vision of fan identity and participation over the past decade” (Scott, 2019, p. 21) in an effort “to homogenize fandom itself” (p. 11).
Beginning from the perspective that the “proper” audience for a text is a discursive construction rather than an objective truth, this salon asks questions including (but not limited to): What are the roles fans and producers play in constructing the idea that superhero fans are mostly white men? What does the fandom look like, and how has it changed in recent years? What can fans and producers do to have a positive social impact on the fandom?
Participants: Matt Griffin (University of Iowa), Nayara Domingos, Laura E. Felschow (SUNY Oneonta), Clarice Greco (Paulista University), Rusty Hatchell (University of Texas, Austin), Rachel Marks (University of Central Florida), Christina Schuster (University of Vienna) (Jacinta Yanders, moderator)
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This salon invites participation from scholars who work within game studies, material culture, transmedia storytelling, and fandom scholarship. As both board and video games have only increased in popularity, this salon seeks to better understand several provisionally theorized ways in which participants and fans engage with the gaming hobby. Scholars have posited the way that gameplay can be a fan practice, while also examining game players as fans themselves. The gameplay-as-fan-practice perspective suggests that players can use gameplay to write alternate histories that obey franchise constraints with non-canonical outcomes. In the realm of board gaming, miniatures-as-toys situates these game tokens as toyetic objects, accessible both within the framework of the game rules, but also as purely ludic objects to be played with, displayed, modified, photographed, and traded, outside of their use as game pieces. These and other intersections between game rules, physical figurines, and transmedia narratives promise productive, cross-disciplinary explorations of a materialized media form.
Participants: Greg Loring-Albright (Drexel University), Jonathon Lundy (Drexel University), Miyoko Conley (University of California, Berkeley), Danielle Hart (Miami University), David Kocik (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) (Paul Booth, moderator)
4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Fan Fiction Studies Reader (eds. Busse and Hellekson) from 2014 collected studies of fanfiction as literary artifacts, and 2017’s The Fanfiction Reader (ed. Coppa) developed this idea further, collecting fanworks as well as a critical introduction to each of its “folk tales.” The development of literary techniques as a dominant fan studies method has been inevitably stymied, however, in many ways by the overwhelming body of text—not only of the fanworks themselves, but the source material from which they originate, as well as their subcultural and counterpublic contexts. But fanfiction offers uniquely intimate literary examples of personal writing, and, in the case of “trauma texts”—semi-autobiographical works that combine life writing and memoir with the political, social, and emotional context of characters’ trauma—it also creates works that use the extant canon to draw from and elaborate upon writers’ personal experiences. Of relevance are contemporary fandom wars over the appropriateness of “darkfic” and other traumatic texts touching on issues of violence and sexuality. As diverse as the authors and instances of these trauma texts may be, they are also policed or silenced according to questions of who gets to write autobiographically, and under what conditions; how do the power relations of race, gender, and disability, for example, matter to the ethics of telling trauma? How do trauma texts reflect their positionality of their authors as much as their characters? What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling trauma via the vehicle of another’s story? This salon examines specific examples of fanfiction as trauma text—contemporary, historical, personal, political—and explore ways in which this form provides a unique space for the literary exploration of trauma, including what Whitlock and Douglas call “the ethics of testimony and witnessing, the commodification of traumatic story, and [the] politics of recognition” (2009) for both the wider field of trauma texts, and fanfiction itself.
Participants: JSA Lowe (University of Houston), Lucy Baker (Texas A&M University), Maria Alberto (University of Utah), Giovana Santana Carlos, Linda Howell (University of North Florida), Dean Leetal (Tel Aviv University), Lauren Rouse (University of Central Florida) (Effie Sapuridis & Cait Coker, moderators)
SALON: "So, this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause": Fandom, Politics, Public Discourse and Democracy
9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Western civilizations commonly frame news and politics as informative, to encourage logical public discourse to promote collaborative problem solving. Fandom, however, is primarily affective-based, with motivations to consume influenced by emotional relationships to some object of affection. However, in the 21st century, many journalists, political analysts, and politicians reconceptualize citizens and constituents as fans. For example, politicians talk about their loyal constituents and utilizing grassroots campaigns in ways similar to media producers discuss their fans. Thus, a politician builds a fandom around themselves and persuades it to engage in certain civic activities. This type of political organizing, however, often becomes criticized as populism and is seen as antithetical to democracy. Such framing would see fandom as antithetical to democracy.
It may also be true, however, that such affective organizing exists at the core democratic participation, providing the impetus to become involved, and thus fandom essentially has always been a part of democracy. If citizenship is performance, and fan communities provide a space in which to experience and enact a political identity, then when citizens or politicians bring fandom into politics, they do so based on generating an affective citizenship to encourage political citizenship and help people fulfill their legal-judicial citizenship. Western-style democracies, for example, perhaps cultivate and encourage affective political engagement, at least since the rise of “commoners” voting.
This salon tackles the question: “what would happen to political engagement and democracy if we consider citizens as fans, and what are the benefits/drawbacks of this type of framing?”
Participants: CarrieLynn Reinhard (Dominican University), Namita Gupta, Stacey Lantagne (University of MIssissippi) (Amber Davisson & Ashley Hinck, moderators)