Historical Perspectives on Fan Culture (panel)
CFP: Historical Perspectives on Fan Culture
(SCMS: April 1-5 2020, Denver)
Fan studies has been from the beginning, and continues to be, focused predominantly on contemporary movements and phenomena. This is striking, especially since fans have invested extensive labor into building historical archives. While scholars such as Roberta Pearson, Francesca Coppa, and Camille Bacon-Smith have published important historical studies on different fannish groups, the mere fact that their texts continue to be cited as the dominant references for historical context suggests a lack of breadth and depth in fan studies’ engagement with historical research questions. Other historical studies, such as Jackie Stacey’s work on female movie fans in the 1940s/1950s or historiographies of the science-fiction community written by writer-fans, stand outside the discourse of fan studies and thus don’t directly connect to the theoretical arguments in the field.
This panel argues that fan studies is depriving itself of an important archive of knowledge that could significantly alter and enrich the field. Since much of fan studies is produced by self-identified members of fan communities, the issue of identification and embeddedness is one that it has necessarily struggled with from the very beginning. The necessary distance that comes with historical research can both challenge our understanding and help show what the study of fan culture has to offer to larger disciplines. We are especially interested in papers examining sensitive topics within fan communities that involvement in fandom makes more difficult with regard to contemporary work.
Submissions should be rooted in historical, archival, and/or cross-cultural research. We welcome studies that engage with materials and communities falling outside the scholar’s own lived experience, and/or that purposefully challenge established expectations about the nature and origins of fan culture. Contributions will demonstrate a critical and expansive understanding of fan culture in relation to adjacent disciplines such as media industry studies, feminist theory, Marxist theory, queer theory, critical race studies, disability studies, and community studies, and will do so through research outside the usual circuits of western digital fandom. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to, research into the histories of previously underexposed fan communities; conflicts, controversies, and taboos in fandom history; the historical predecessors of slash; experiences of underrepresented groups in pre-internet fan communities; racialization and the construction of traditional science fiction fandom; or non-western media fandom.