Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

By Jonathan Gray; Cornel Sandvoss et al. | Go to book overview
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The Death of the Reader?
Literary Theory and the Study of
Texts in Popular Culture

Cornel Sandvoss

Concerns over meaning and aesthetic value have continually haunted media and cultural studies. In many ways the field of fan studies epitomizes these concerns. The relative neglect of the question of aesthetic value (see also Hills, this volume) has made the field of media and cultural studies (hereafter cultural studies) a popular target as a “Mickey Mouse” subject. On the one hand, this is, quite literally, true: fan studies have focused on popular texts from horror films via sports events to, indeed, comics. Beyond this, however, the notion of a “Mickey Mouse” subject implies a lack of depth and theoretical rigor. It is on this level that it remains most hurtful, especially when such criticism is reiterated by those in neighboring disciplines such as literary theory. Echoing such themes and pointing to structuralism paving the way for the rise of cultural studies, Eagleton accuses the new discipline of taking advantage of the fact that,

methodologically speaking, nobody quite knew where Coriolanus ended
and Coronation Street began and constructed an entirely fresh field of
enquiry which would gratify the anti-elitist iconoclasm of the sixty-
eighters[. …] It was, in its academicist way, the latest version of the tradi-
tional avant-garde project of leaping barriers between art and society, and
was bound to make its appeal to those who found, rather like an apprentice
chef cooking his evening meal, that it linked classroom and leisure time
with wonderful economy. (Eagleton 1996: 192)


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Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World
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