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Conduct a research study of a subculture or a fandom/fan community as it relates to politics, activism, and/or social change.
This assignment covers the issues we’ve been exploring all semester, but with a focus on fans as political and social actors. The past two weeks we’ve explored issues around fandom and audiences as they get involved in political activities. We have seen how entertainment and citizenship overlap, how fan bonding leads to other collective action, and how fans and audiences engage in popular culture in toxic ways.
First: select a fan community. Provide some basics of this fan community: media utilized; history; shared norms, values and ideologies.
You don’t have to select a fan community that you belong to. If you do pick a fan community that you belong to, make sure you zoom out to do your observation and analysis. This is not the same as the discussion post for fan week, for instance. This is not an assignment that asks you for your opinion or descriiption of your own relationship to the fan community, but rather a scholarly investigation. You can draw on your knowledge, of course, but don’t dwell on that. Do some work to find out about the fandom beyond your own experience.
Second: pick an episode/moment where the fandom either acted in some political realm or was disrupted due to politics. Politics here is used in the broad sense: not just electoral politics, but also cultural politics (e.g. issues around race, gender, class, ownership).
We are looking at the effects and issues beyond entertainment or controversies internal to fandom. Rather we want to see implications for those not in the community in addition to any internal ones.
Finally: what are the elements of the fan community in this episode that you would like to affirm and compliment? Did you find anything disappointing? What would you like to see changed, and why? If you can’t find something you personally see in these questions, find out how other fans have answered them.
Some questions to ponder:
*Do the ideals or values of your fan community inform this episode? Does the community challenge any social norms?
*Was there an element of fun or pleasure in this collective action? What kind? Was it tied to power (e.g. trolling, harassment)?
*Was the fan community involved in “toxic fan practices?” If so, what are the presumptions, values, and ideals of these toxic practices?
*How have others responded to this fan-based action and/or the fan community?
Citational requirements: You must use key terms and at least three research articles/chapters from the course readings and at least two outside academic readings to inform your analysis. If you find news accounts of your case study, incorporate them.
Total of at least six readings in your works cited.
The reading doesn’t necessarily have to focus on your fan community—it can be related to fandom more broadly.
To find the outside readings, start with the Journal of Popular Culture and see if there are articles related to your example (or something close). The online journal Flow is also good. In Media Res has very short pieces that could be useful.
You should include visual/media examples as attachments or as links.