Massachusetts Teen Summit 2013: Fandom and YA Literature
presented by Robin Brenner
“Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it
were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear
apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies
trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for
money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write
it and put it up online just for the satisfaction.
They’re fans, but they’re not silent,
couchbound consumers of media. The
culture talks to them, and they talk
back to the culture in its own language.”
The Boy Who Lived Forever -Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
and Juliet Quixote
What is fandom?
The idea of fandom developed in the 19th century, originally in
reference to sports fans. In the ’20s, the sci-fi community
adopted the term, and it’s been around ever since.
What can be a fandom? Anything! One might be a fan of cats,
for example, and make fan videos, stories, art, and cute gifs
Fanfiction has been around since Virgil read The Iliad and said
to himself, “But what about Aeneas? I want to know more
about him!” These are impulses that have existed for centuries
and have nothing to do with the creativity or morality of the
writer—only the love they have for the source material.
The legal thing
The debate over the legality of fanfiction centers around whether you believe fanfiction
is derivative or transformative.
•Derivative = secondary work adds nothing to the original source in value.
•Transformative = that work is building on to what the canon started.
If a case can be made for the fanwork as transformative, the U.S. copyright “fair use”
clause is fully protective of the work, whether it is done for free or for profit.
Legally, courts are undecided about whether fanwork is derivative or transformative.
The Wind Done Gone (published fanfiction of Gone With the Wind) was ruled
transformative, but then a sequel to Catcher in the Rye failed the transformative work
test just four years ago.
What are fan works?
Fanfiction = writing
Podfic = audio of fanfiction
Fanvids = videos
Fan art = illustrations & comics
Filk = music
Fan mixes = music playlists
Cosplay = costumes
Crafts = handmade, needlework, jewelry, etc.
Meta = analysis & criticism
Speaking like a fan
• AU (alternate universe)
• PWP (plot what plot?)
• RPF (real people fiction)
• OTP (one true pairing)
• Ship (short for relationship)
• Gen (no romance)
(m/f, m/m, f/f romance included)
• Fun! Escapism is a bit part of the appeal
• Creative. Remixing and reinvention is the norm.
• Quality. It may take some digging, but high quality
work is what makes fans stick around.
• Inclusive. Participants find representation in fan
works that they are missing in traditional works.
Voice actor Cecil Baldwin
Welcome to Night Vale: The Many Faces of Cecil
• Speculative. Fans love filling in gaps, asking what if,
and expanding favorite universes.
• Focused on relationships. Shipping is key to many
fans, and they are finding their romance fix online
rather than in print.
• All about characters. More than worlds, fan works
allow fans to spend time with, critique and
reimagine their favorites.
after all, is born of a balance
between fascination and frustration: if
media content didn’t fascinate us, there would be no
desire to engage with it; but if it didn’t frustrate us
on some level, there would be no drive to rewrite
or remake it.”
- Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 2006
How do teens participate?
• 97% read fanfiction, looked at fanart,
or watched fanvids
• 85% written fanfiction
• 79% participated actively in fandom
• 55% created fan art
“I like the endless remixing. I like the incredible talent
and creativity people show. I like how the familiar (characters I
know, at least from other sources) remain familiar and yet
change. I like the interconnectedness of it, how
fanwork is in a conversation with other fanworks and with the
fannish community. I
like that my standards and
interests are the norm in my part of fandom,
not the exception. I like that there are warnings, that I
can find what interests me by tag, and that I can read exactly
what I'm looking for. I like that it's free, created in a gift
culture, something that is made for love and shared out of love.
I like that I never run out of things to read.”
“Fanworks are the branding that help me to
appreciate a franchise better. When someone tries
to sell me on a show/book/movie, they usually try
a certain premise or emotion that will appeal to
me. Fanworks are the other end - there's
nothing left to spoil, we know how
everything turns out, and now we can
get down to the analysis,
commentary, remixing, and laughs.”
Fandom is community
“I've made several friends who are just as nerdy as I
am, even if they don't go to my school or live in the
same city. It's
reassuring as a teenager,
when the social pressures of high school
are very real and very present, to know
that it's ok to love something enough to
interact with it the way you do with a
Fandom fills gaps
“It's given me endless amounts of joy, introduced
me to the entire concept of gay...as a completely
non-controversial thing thus probably shaping my
entire life past 7th grade:
I have no idea how me figuring out I
liked girls would have happened
without fandom, but as was, it was
literally a completely nondramatic
“I'm writing more and better, and I have a
much clearer perception of how important it is to
have depth and subtext - reading
of fic I have has made me a more
critical reader in a way that public-school English
classes couldn't (robotically finding and interpreting
literary elements is dull work that does not
necessarily encourage complex thought).”
“It's certainly made me appreciate more just how
difficult creative work can be. Mostly, though, it's
made me feel that once
you have created an
original work and let it out into the
world, those characters you've created
are no longer entirely yours. Every person
who reads about them or sees them will take those
characters into themselves and read something
different into them, and all
of those readings
are equally valid and equally fascinating.”
“When the spirit moves you, you create, even if
it's a 500 word drabble about werewolves in space.”
“I began writing fanfiction 3.5 yrs ago and after I
developed a substantial following, I
started writing original fiction. I've now
been published, something I wouldn't
have imagined before I became heavily
involved in fandom.”
fandoms, I thought you needed a
fancy degree or a medal from the queen to
write ACTUAL stories. But when I figured out
that there is more to life then internet explorer and
realized that kids were writing.
Everyone was writing. And everyone could
do it. Then I started to do it. AND LIKE
WOAH. I honestly think I started writing stories because
I started out writing fanfiction. And
minor in creative writing. ”
now I want to
The Hunger Games by Faith Erin Hicks | deviantArt
The Malfoy family in the style of Earl Oliver Hurst by Makani (website | deviantArt | Art Challenge)
Calvin and Hobbes fanart by kizer180 | deviantArt
Calvin and Hobbes by ontheshoresofthebroken
William Riker by John Allison
Creator of Scary Go Round
The various Sherlocks by lowlighter, lowlighter.tumblr.com
Sherlock fanart by sdkay
Soldier by J.C. Leyendecker
Captain America aka Steve Rogers, by 菊叔
The Trans-Siberian Spectacular and Charleston Handshake by nihilnovisubsole