Fan Practices for Language and Literacy Development
Organizer: Shannon Sauro, Malmö University
Discussant: Steve L. Thorne, Portland State University/University of Groningen, Netherlands
This colloquium brings together research that explores the language and literacy development of fans engaged in different types of online fan practices. The fan practices explored here include not only the writing of fanfiction (stories that build upon and transform existing characters and universes that others have written about), but also fansubbing (the translation of audio-visual texts such as those found in television shows and digital games), spoiling (the discovery and sharing of plot points from movies and television shows during filming), and
Taken together, therefore, this collection of papers explores a variety of practices in the digital wilds that have been undertaken by fans to support language learning and digital literacy development, to critically respond to literary texts, to foster opportunities for identity negotiation and feedback on writing – all of which hold implications for the classroom.
Spoiler Alert! The digital literacy development and online language learning of a Sherlock fan
Shannon Sauro, Malmö University
This study is situated in prior work on online fan practices and computer-assisted language learning (Sauro, 2017) and reports on a case study of the informal language and digital literacy development of a Sherlock Holmes fan who engaged in the fan practice of spoiling. Spoiling, defined as the discovery and sharing of plot elements or key outcomes of television shows and movies (Duffet, 2013), often takes place via international online social media networks, necessitating careful attention to the veracity of sources as well as the ability to transmit information concisely and accurately to international communities of fans. In 2013, during
Drawing upon prior case studies of the language and literacy development of fans (e.g., Black, 2006; Lam, 2006; Lepännen, 2008), this paper reports on a case study of the language and digital literacy development of Steevee, a Sherlock fan living in Germany, who became heavily involved in sharing, archiving, and analyzing spoilers from #setlock. Data consisted of posts from Steevee’s social media accounts, published and unpublished recordings of Steevee for a Sherlock Holmes fan podcast about spoilers, a semi-structured skype interview, and follow-up email correspondence with Steevee, which were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. Key findings included Steevee’s increasing awareness of and ability to monitor and modify her English in order to successfully communicate information with an international fan community, and her development of critical digital literacy skills, including the ability to critically read and verify the biases and validity of information posted online by both fan and professional sources.
The ins and outs of
Boris Vazquez-Calvo, University of Southern Denmark andUniversity of Santiago de Compostela
Fan translators are young people who translate for fun cultural products to which they are strongly attached. Among fan
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, University of Pennsylvania
In the digital era, stories still matter (Fox & Short, 2000). Yet even as stories, ideas, and people circulate globally with
This study provides an overview of new trends in reader response in digital age fandom, particularly the phenomenon of bending texts using social media, positioning such acts as
Looking back and thinking ahead: Charting new directions in online fanfiction research
Jayne C. Lammers, University of Rochester
Alecia M. Magnifico, University of New Hampshire
Jen Scott Curwood, University of Sydney
As young adults engage in fan-based literacy practices, particularly when such production involves participating in online affinity spaces, this creative work can serve to scaffold and motivate their developing identities as writers. As English teacher educators and literacy researchers, our studies of fanfiction on sites like Fanfiction.net and other online spaces have explored these practices and suggested that this “in the wild” writing can invigorate the writing and language learning in formal learning environments. We argue that fanfiction allows writers to play with their identities as they infuse elements of themselves into the creations they share online and it provides youth access to empowering identities as successful writers. However, as youth position themselves as particular kinds of writers and fans, they must also negotiate the contextual factors and expectations of their chosen online writing community, thus troubling the field’s celebratory attitude about these spaces as sites where young writers can be agentic in their literacy and identity work.
Before the theories and practices of online affinity spaces can be integrated into school contexts, researchers need to move beyond the study of exceptional cases to recognize the multiple pathways for participation, communication, and collaboration these spaces afford. Doing so allows us to critically examine the opportunities for and constraints against fan-based literacies informing writing instruction. For this purpose, we developed a linguistic analysis method to study a common and valued practice in online fanfiction spaces - the feedback that authors receive from their readers. Our talk offers a brief review of our fanfiction research, then outlines this method and focuses on how this work has helped us to (1) consider a broader range of fanfiction activities and (2) interrogate our methodological practices and reflect on our assumptions about context, learning, collaboration, and writing.