Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

Synopsis

We are all fans. Whether we log on to Web sites to scrutinize the latest plot turns in Lost, "stalk" our favorite celebrities on Gawker, attend gaming conventions, or simply wait with bated breath for the newest Harry Potter novel- each of us is a fan. Fandom extends beyond television and film to literature, opera, sports, and pop music, and encompasses both high and low culture.

Fandom brings together leading scholars to examine fans, their practices, and their favorite texts. This unparalleled selection of original essays examines instances across the spectrum of modern cultural consumption from Karl Marx to Paris Hilton, Buffy the Vampire Slayer to backyard wrestling, Bach fugues to Bollywood cinema and nineteenth-century concert halls to computer gaming. Contributors examine fans of high cultural texts and genres, the spaces of fandom, fandom around the globe, the impact of new technologies on fandom, and the legal and historical contexts of fan activity. Fandom is key to understanding modern life in our increasingly mediated and globalized world.

Excerpt

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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