MLA 2019 Chicago: Fandom Spaces

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Susan M. Strayer
contact email: 

The history of fandom within children’s and young adult literature and media has grown exponentially in the last thirty years.  The advent of the Internet created new avenues for fans to express their love for their favorite stories and characters as well as connect with other fans to discuss the pros and cons of certain elements of the plot. 

From the fanzines that published Star Trek fanfiction in the late 60s and early 70s to the creation of web-based archives such as Fanfiction.net and ArchiveOfOurOwn.org, fanfiction has been a central facet of fandom from the beginning.  The growth of fandom has resulted in a great number of new opportunities for writers, including Wattpad and Amazon’s Kindle Worlds publishing service.  It could also be argued that fanfiction influenced the rise of eBooks in the 21st century due to the prevalence of online reading material.

The fandoms of media produced for children and young adults are vast.  The Harry Potter fandom, for instance, has more than 781,000 fanfictions published on Fanfiction.net alone.  Although a great deal of scholarship has looked at the Harry Potter fandom, much less has focused on LCYA as a whole or on the ways that fans interact with texts through videos, LARPing, or costume creation in addition to writing their own versions of the story.

This guaranteed panel session examines the multitude of spaces created by fandom within literature and other media for children and young adults.  How and why do fans create spaces for expressing their own desires for the plot, characterization, and setting of their favorite stories?  What happens when the lines between fan creations and authorial creations are blurred?  What kind of influence do “viral” fanfictions and videos have on the rest of the fandom?  What happens when a fan author crosses the line into plagiarism or gets their fanfiction published by changing the character names?  What socio-cultural and historical connections can be made between fandom and the creation of literature for children and young adults?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • fandom as a space for adults to enjoy “childish” things
  • racial diversity and fandom
  • dysfunctional or elitist fandom spaces
  • the history of fandom and fanfiction
  • social media as a fandom space
  • YouTube/Vine/Snapchat/Instagram creation of a visual fandom space
  • cosplaying and comic conventions
  • the politics of fanfiction websites; the rise of AO3
  • the spaces formed within texts by fandom creators
  • the blurring of fanon and canon
  • interactions between authors and fandoms
  • the trend of fanfiction being published as original fiction; the same trend with doujinshi in Japan helping aspiring manga-ka break into the market
  • the power of fandom over content creation; the power of authors over their fans

Send 500-word paper proposals by March 1st, 2018 to Susan M. Strayer, strayer.100@osu.edu.  Accepted panelists must become members of MLA by April 1st, 2018.