Fandom and Participatory Culture

This course will study the communities that develop around various media interests, such as movies, books, television shows, and video games to explore the way that textual production takes places in these communities. Students will be challenged to consider the ways in which texts are mediated, adapted, and transformed in fan production (fan vids, fan fiction, fan art, and fan music) while also considering the ways in which participatory cultures are formed, enacted, and maintained. Students will be asked to analyze details of both source and fan materials to identify generic features and structures, as well as identifying and explaining the relationships among the writers, readers, genres, and contexts of these materials.

Major fandoms of modern popular culture will serve as conveyors for discussions, such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter as well as other popular culture touchstones. Through engagement with scholars such as Nancy Baym and Henry Jenkins, as well as others, students will think critically regarding the language of participatory cultures and fandoms, the textual production and engagement of these communities, and further, how contemporary issues are discussed and embodied in fan production and engagement. The major assignments of this course have been created with a mindfulness toward fan production and scholarship, valuing conversation between the two—creating a space for students to become “aca-fans,” fans who engage with fandom with an academic mindfulness. Therefore, the major assignments will ask students to critically consider major topics of gender, class, race, language, and various other topics within fan communities.

Sample Syllabus