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Free Content Tracing Textual Poachers: Reflections on the development of fan studies and digital fandom

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In 1992 Henry Jenkins’ influential work, Textual Poachers, was published, which contributed towards igniting the establishment of the fan studies field of research and re-morphing previous restrictive depictions of media fans. This article traces the work’s influence on my own steps as an early career researcher in the field and how it shaped my ideas and approach to scholarship. Speaking more broadly, it assesses the current state of the fan studies field, and how things have developed since Jenkins’ text was released. I reflect on what general fluxes, concerns and dimensions are currently with us, through a lens of the themes raised in Textual Poachers, most especially surrounding the development of technology and social media, methods in the field and fans’ relations with texts, assessing to what degree we have moved forward, or remained in stasis within fan studies scholarship. This study argues that technological advances have impacted on and shaped four key, often interconnected, areas of fandom and enquiry: (1) communication, (2) creativity, (3) knowledge and (4) organizational and civic power. Overall, this article shows how Textual Poachers is an invaluable source to measure the field and landscape of fandom, and determine the extent to which it has seemingly leaped forward.

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Keywords: digital; fan studies; fandom; method; textual poachers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent researcher

Publication date: 01 April 2014

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  • The multi – disciplinary nature of fan studies makes the development of a community of scholars sometimes difficult to achieve. The Journal of Fandom Studies seeks to offer scholars a dedicated publication that promotes current scholarship into the fields of fan and audience studies across a variety of media. It focuses on the critical exploration, within a wide range of disciplines and fan cultures, of issues surrounding production and consumption of popular media (including film, music, television, sports and gaming), The journal aims to address key issues in fans studies itself, while also fostering new areas of enquiry that take us beyond the bounds of current scholarship.
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