Typical web/research experience: Something reminds me of Luke Menand, one of the best professors of art/literature/culture I had in college and I wonder if I can get in touch with him for this book – I’m sure he’d have some interesting things to say. On the other hand, I doubt he remembers me. I only had him for one semester, and I doubt I made any kind of impression.
Anyway, the search led me to an interesting article about fanfic and slash fiction by David Plotz from 2000
So I surf for his name (it’s actually Louis Menand – that’s his byline) but he’s so widely published that I just get formal stuff and no reminder of where he’s teaching now (NYU?). Probably I should be asking around via my personal network and some of the more academicky people I’m meeting these days, Luke Skywalker Is Gay?, in which he explores the idea that fan fiction represents a kind of communal folkloric storytelling in which the legendary icons of pop culture are reclaimed from the private ownership of the commercial television producers.
I first read about K/S slash fiction when I was in college. There was already a scholarly book on the subject hardbound in the stacks. I used to wander around a lot and try to find random stuff. The Internet has only expanded the reach of fanfic and slash.
Too bad, I said to myself, there’s no meeting-in-person angle, since that’s the hook we’re hanging everything on in this book (though sometimes I wonder if that’s a mistake…), then I got to this section of the article:
But fanfic turns writing into a communal art, as folk culture has always done. Writing and reading become collaborative. We share the characters and work together to make them interesting and funny and sexy. Write a short story about your crazy uncle and post it on the Web, and no one will read it. Write a short story about Dr. Who, and hundreds of folks will flock to your site. Fanfic writers meet at conventions (“cons”). Thanks to the Internet, writers communicate constantly on e-mail listservs. They invite e-mail responses and crave feedback. MedianCat, who writes Buffy fanfic, says he has heard from more than 400 people about his stories. Of the two-dozen-odd fanfic writers I e-mailed about their work, only one did not respond. (The Internet is also changing fanfic by opening it to kids. Click here for how the Backstreet Boys became literary heroes.)
So just like the post-eTech software-demo CodeCon is happening this weekend for the Cory/Ito crowd (danah told me about it – she’s so swamped with her academic workload that she has to miss it – it’s $99 so I’ll probably give it a miss too), fanfic and slash writers have cons (conventions, from the tendency to add -Con to words to name conventions) of their own. The common thread between the techies and the fanfic writers, by the way, is science fiction (sci-fi, sf), where a lot of this jargon originates.
So, if fanfic authors get together for conventions, can I talk about them in the book?