The Chronicle of Higher Education – that behemoth that still locks articles about academia behind a paywall where they cannot be sullied by the unwashed adjunct and independent masses (I’m only being a little sarcastic here) – has done it again. In a piece by Hannah McGregor entitled, “Podcasting in Plain Sight,” we’re introduced to the apparently radical concept of embracing one’s love of a thing as an academic – in this case, the Harry Potter novels. It’s actually a story I’m 100% behind in terms of what she and her collaborator, Marcelle Kosman, accomplish in and through their Witch, Please HP podcast. As anyone who follows me on Twitter (@acafanmom) knows, I am ALL ABOUT the open embrace of what I love as an academic.
What’s so irritatingly ironic about the piece, and particularly its inclusion in CHE, is that this is absolutely nothing new to those of us who work in fan studies, a discipline that has been around now for over a quarter of a century. We’re young, perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, but 25 years’ worth of work isn’t insignificant, particularly when it speaks to the very things this article does, but with a far better understanding of both fan cultures and being an academic within them.
There’s exactly one reference in the entire piece to any other writing having to do with fandom, and that’s from a Vox article that discusses fanfiction (AND acknowledges fan studies), which, again, great, wonderful. The more fanfiction is talked about sympathetically in non-academic publications, the happier many of us are.
But particularly insofar as McGregor is coming from within, and speaking to, academia, an unemployable fan studies scholar of small repute might be forgiven for thinking she could have scratched the surface of what we in fan studies do through a search on Google Scholar for “fanfiction,” “fandom,” “acafans,” “auto-ethnography”… the list goes on.
And on and on and on, which is why it’s so infuriatingly frustrating that this piece – and CHE by association – presents the idea of fandom as having redeeming social AND scholarly value as if
rather than the subject of scholarship that’s been ongoing for over 25 years.
For anyone who actually might want to scratch that surface – and this really is just the surface – here’s a little taster:
Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Updated Twentieth Anniversary Edition, New York: Routledge, 2013.
Matt Hills, Fan Cultures, London: Routledge, 2002.
Kristina Busse and Alexis Lothian, “Scholarly Critiques and Critiques of Scholarship: The Uses of Remix Video,” Camera Obscura 77, 26.2 (2011): 139-146.
Paul Booth, “Augmenting Fan/Academic Dialogue: New Directions in Fan Research,” Journal of Fandom Studies 1.2 (2013): 119-137.
Lucy Bennett, Tracing Textual Poachers: Reflections on the Development of Fan Studies and Digital Fandom, Journal of Fandom Studies 2.1 (2014): 5-20.
Matt Hills, “Media Academics as Media Audiences,” in Jonathan Gray, Cornel Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington, eds., Fandom, Second Edition: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, New York: New York University Press, 2017. 60-76