SCMS 2018 Panel CFP: Toward New Theories of Media Fanworks

deadline for submissions: 
August 11, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Society for Cinema and Media Studies: Toronto, March 14–18, 2018


In her introduction to 2017’s The Fanfiction Reader, Francesca Coppa notes that the critical literature surrounding fanfiction is over forty years old; despite this scholarly effort, she adds, there are still “various ways to describe it, each slightly different and none of them correct or exclusive.” Further, as stated in the forthcoming second edition of Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, “mediated discourses about fans have been transformed over the past decade through social media, which give fans themselves a voice and the opportunity to publicly respond.” The deeply social practice of generating and consuming fanworks—especially now that stable, reliable, searchable archives are readily available—isn’t merely holding steady but is in fact currently in the midst of an online Cambrian explosion of unprecedented creativity. This panel will consider the recent energetic movement within and around fanworks, one not only quantitatively but qualitatively distinct from previous eras, and meriting specific close attention. With former slashed divisions like “fan/creator” or “producer/consumer” increasingly rendered near-meaningless by the affordances of social media and self-publishing platforms, theories of fanworks need to keep pace, addressing not only rapidly changing technological possibilities but also conceptualizing new models to account for this flexible spectrum along which meaning-making remains fluid and mobile.


Writers are encouraged to carry over relevant concepts and applicable theories from other disciplines which may offer novel and unexpected approaches, insights, and angles of interrogation. Papers should introduce new theoretical approaches related to fanworks, rather than engaging the archive of a specific fandom. In particular, papers might seek to theorize beyond fanfiction, examining undertheorized fanworks with critical approaches such as (but not limited to):


• using multimodal linguistics or rhetorical analyses to discuss communal activities and discourses of fandom such as forums/anonymous forums, commenting/reblogging, gif battles/gif responses and/or the active conversations around conventions and their attendant products (including live feeds/recorded videos, photo ops and shared stories)

• applying art historical theories to fanart (including manips, gifsets, and pic spam)

• examining various forms of fan writing in terms of literary or other theory (meta/essays, recaps, analysis, or headcanons and other storytelling in which the author’s voice remains dominant)

• considering the hermeneutics and other implications of playlists used in fanfiction/songfic, fanvids/vidding, and other forms of transmedia fan creation relying on music

• employing industry studies approaches to consider the professionalization of fanworks, as well as fans’ organized criticism/protest and/or interactions with corporate content producers


Please send abstract (300-500 words), bibliography (3-5 entries) and author bio or CV to JSA Lowe at and EJ Nielsen at Deadline is Friday, 11 August 2017; those chosen will hear back by Monday, 14 August 2017.