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Free Content Doctor Who’s textual commemorators: Fandom, collective memory and the self-commodification of fanfac

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Following ‘first wave’ fan studies and the seminal Textual Poachers (1992) by Jenkins, much scholarly work has focused on fan fiction or fanfic. This article argues that an alternative genre of fan writing – the autobiographical account of fan memory/experience – forms part of media fandom’s ‘textual productivity’. Defining this as fanfac (reflexively produced fact or faction, often shaped to entertain fellow fans), I examine this mode of commemorative fan writing in relation to a case study of the British SF TV series Doctor Who (BBC, 1963–89, 1996, 2005–). Drawing on prior work in memory studies, I consider how fans’ memories provide a resource that can be self-commodified and sold back to the fan culture, thus making fanfac very different to the typical social relations surrounding fanfic. Fans’ production of textual memories can be thought of as a form of ‘banal commemoration’, which Doctor Who fans themselves auto-commodify within the ‘commemoration industry’ surrounding this TV series that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. More so than ‘textual poachers’ creating fanfic, sections of UK and US Who fandom can be theorized instead as ‘textual commemorators’ producing fanfac, which contributes to, and sometimes contests, the fandom’s collective memory.

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Keywords: Doctor Who; banal commemoration; commemoration industry; fan memories; self-commodification; textual productivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aberystwyth University

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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