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The Fangirl

Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.

A good resource, but we can do better.

The Fan Fiction Studies Reader - Karen Hellekson, Kristina Busse

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 


“We have nevertheless chosen to restrict our collection to transformative written works of Western media texts in order to provide a cogent history of one particular strand of fan studies research that has been prolific and influential to both fans and media studies.” 



That big ol’ slap in the face tainted my entire reading experience. Anyone who is supposedly educated in fan culture knows it is impossible to have a true understanding of modern fan fiction and fan culture without at least having a cursory knowledge of the impact made by Anime/Manga. A fair amount of the vernacular of fandom, including many fan fiction terms, originate from Japanese, specifically Anime/Manga, fan culture. This is especially true for slash fan fiction (from countless “Western” media fandoms), that not only borrows from the language, but owes many of the popular story tropes and relationship dynamics to Yaoi


This blatant erasure of an integral part of fandom history and fan culture might not have bothered me as much hadn’t been the only book on fan fiction to suffer from cultural myopia, but it’s not. This self-imposed “blind spot” is becoming all to common “Western” academia's treatment of fan culture, and I’m sick of it. 


It is 2014. Whitewashing fan culture has no place in academia. DO BETTER! 


Due impart to this homogenized view of fan culture and fan works, I found this book didn’t have anything new to teach me that I didn’t know already. This book, like many academic essays is equal parts thoughtful analysis and overblown knob polishing. It takes a lot of work to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it still has its value. 


I would recommend this book to anyone curious about fan fiction and especially to those wishing to study fan culture. There’s a great deal of insight and information, but keep in mind the scope is very narrow, and decidedly pale in complexion. Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for bell hooks to write a about intersectional feminism in fan culture.