Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Fanfiction Studies Reader edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse

There was a period of time in my primary and secondary school years where everyone I knew was reading and/or writing fanfiction. The normal categories were "Teen Titans" or "Prince of Tennis", basically animated shows, but there were students writing Enid Blyton fanfiction. I know because I was one of them, to be more accurate, I begged my friends to write me into the Enid Blyton fanfiction.

Unfortunately, Enid Blyton fanfiction does not feature in this book. Instead, the fanfiction (I mean, specific fandoms and fanfiction) that is analysed the most would be Star Trek. There's also a chapter on Sherlock Holmes. So when the author says "we have nevertheless chosen to restric our collection [of fan studies] to transformative written works of Western media texts", please note that it's even more specific then that - there's nothing 'recent' (recent meaning fandoms like Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, and even, sigh, Twilight). Specific fandoms analysed are Sherlock Holmes (1 essay), Star Trek (4 essays) and Babylon5 (1 essay), with a total of 11 essays.

Personally, I feel like most of this is dated. Sure, the analysis is interesting, but references to things like "fanzines" make me think that this was the pre-internet/early internet era. A quick look at introduction shows that only three essays were written after the year 2000. Personally, I would have liked to see a few more recent papers, because I think that the fanfiction subculture has changed a lot in the last couple of years.

While this book is interesting, the tone is largely academic and a bit difficult to read. If you're interested in delving into fanfiction studies seriously (perhaps as a university paper), then this book may be relevant to you. But if you want something that explains fanfiction and/or the field of fan studies in general terms, this book may be a bit too complicated.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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