The Fan Fiction Studies Reader ed. K. Hellekson and K. Busse (February 2014)
An essential introduction to a rapidly growing field of study, The Fan Fiction Studies Reader gathers in one place the key foundational texts of the fan studies corpus, with a focus on fan fiction. Collected here are important texts by scholars whose groundbreaking work established the field and outlined some of its enduring questions. Editors Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse provide cogent introductions that place each piece in its historical and intellectual context, mapping the historical development of fan studies and suggesting its future trajectories.
Organized into four thematic sections, the essays address fan-created works as literary artifacts; the relationship between fandom, identity, and feminism; fandom and affect; and the role of creativity and performance in fan activities.
I was really eager to get stuck into this. Fan fiction is still a ‘genre’ or ‘form’ of writing that I’m in two minds about. On the one hand I love reading and writing it, but on the other, it is a breeding ground for smut and cyber bullies (if you’re a ‘non canon’ writer it can be a bit like sticking your hand into a tank full of piranhas. You might be ok..)
It has become such a large media platform now that it is impossible to dismiss anymore and I’m glad that someone has also recognised this too. The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is probably more ‘inevitable’ rather than ‘innovative’.
My ideas and stance on fan fiction has been challenged by this book. Can I really allow Jean Rheas’ ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ to be called fan fiction? If it is, it is of the highest quality and independent thought. Riding off the back of Jane Eyre, true, but set in a different location (for the most part) and with character perspectives that are new and a writing style to match.
For the purpose of this discussion Fifty Shades of Grey shall be known as ‘Imagine-Me-With-Shiny-Vampires-And-I’ll-Ruin-Your-Childhood’… Or not even ‘known as’ anything. I haven’t read it. I have no intentions of reading it. Make it leave.
The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is a lot of fun! I mean, I’m a bit of a textbook nerd, so I think this was always going to be a win for me. It covers the basics, and then it delves in deeper. Looking at readership as well as creation and taking the motives and benefits into consideration too. This is a well researched text. No stone goes unturned, even the Mary Sue gets her own section.
Who do I think this book is for?
Contemporary literature students. Media students. Fan fiction lovers. Literature enthusiasts, in all its forms. Creative writers. The curious.
It’s written in an academic style, but in a simple manner. I’ve read a lot of reference books for my degree and they vary in their approach. Some are so formal they’re almost beyond understanding, and others are so laid back it’s almost insulting. I think this text hits the right balance.
The SF influence is obvious from the cover (Star Wars anyone?) and I think it’s fair to say that a large volume of fan fiction stems from those kinds of genres. Fantasy, SF, Horror, that kind of imagination heavy thing that captures the reader heart and soul.. makes them care enough to want to take the characters’ lives into their own hands.
I think I can happily give this 4/5. It was really interesting!