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Free Content Fan studies: Grappling with an ‘Undisciplined’ discipline

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As part of the Journal of Fandom Studies exploration of the field more than 20 years after the publication of Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers (which has been widely cited as one of the first major works paving the way for this area of study), this piece looks back at Textual Poachers’ approach to studying fandom, examines the dialogue that has taken place within fan studies over the past six years, and raises areas of consideration for fan studies to consider in the years ahead. In particular, the piece advocates for the need to continue to evolve the types of fandoms explored by fan studies scholars; to challenge ourselves to examine the field’s tendency to prioritize some forms of active audience engagement over others based on the media format or level of technical mastery the audience uses or the type of media text on which the engagement is focused; and to further explore what more widespread interest in, acceptance of, and adoption of the model of engagement from fandom means for our field.

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Keywords: Textual Poachers; affirmational fandom; engagement; fan studies; fanboy/fangirl; gender; pro wrestling; soap opera

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Western Kentucky University

Publication date: 01 April 2014

More about this publication?
  • 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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