CFP: Edited collection “Participatory Culture Wars: Controversy, Conflict and Complicity in Fandom”
Deadline: 31 July, 2021
Edited by Dr Simone Driessen, Bethan Jones, Dr Benjamin Litherland
It has become increasingly clear that fandoms and participatory culture are sites of controversy, conflict and even complicity, complicating earlier assessments that sought to celebrate creativity, collegiality, and community. As we continue to make sense of the consequences of web 2.0, the study of fans – the affective bonds, identities, and productive cultures of a highly mediated and networked society – is vital in understanding our current moment, whether expressed in debates about “cancel culture” or ongoing “culture wars”. Fans have had to rethink and reassess their relationships to fan objects, consider their role in reproducing global systems of inequality, and reflect on the meaning of participation in an era that is marked by both moral ambivalence and political earnestness.
Implicitly and explicitly, fannish practices are involved in a variety of key social, political, and cultural issues across the globe. They can be seen in politics, ranging from QAnon’s role in the storming of the US Capitol building, conspiracy theories relating to the covid pandemic, and the continued expansion of the global reactionary and populist right, from Britain to India to Brazil. They can be seen in new cultural terrains produced by networked movements like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, #OscarsSoWhite, and the accompanying activism and responses as fans come to terms with the crimes, misdemeanors, and disagreements of former faves, like Xiao Zhan, Joss Whedon, or JK Rowling. They are expressed in the strategies and tactics of inter- and intra-fandom conflicts, whether Meghan Markle and the Royal Family or some Chinese fan responses to BTS talking about the Korean war. And, pressingly, fan tourism, collector culture, and the energy use of digital culture all contribute to the ongoing climate crisis.
Scholars of participatory culture can play a key role in assessing many and more of these issues, but they will also have significant and ongoing impact on the way we conceptualize fans, fandoms, and participatory culture. This work builds on developing themes in the field. Ongoing scholarship about racism, sexism, and homophobia in prominent fan spaces is vital (Massanari, 2017; Pande, 2020; Scott, 2019), and Jonathan Gray’s conception of anti-fandom (2003; 2005; 2007) is an important moment in indicating the darker underbelly of fan cultures. Yet scholarship on QAnon and Trump fandom (Reinhardt, forthcoming; Miller, 2020), cancel and commenting culture (Clark, 2020; Ng, 2020; Barnes, 2018), reactionary fandom (Stanfill, 2020), ethical consumption (Wood, Litherland & Reed, 2020; Tyler, 2021) and serial killer fandom (Nacos, 2015; Rico, 2015) pose important questions which cannot be answered simply by reference to anti- or toxic fandom.
This collection brings together some of these authors and perspectives while developing and extending these debates. We are keen to broaden the scope of the issue so that studies of fans of film and television are included alongside studies of music, literary, theatre, sports and politics. And we are especially eager to include case studies beyond the anglophone and global north. We are also interested in the practices of organizations in fan-adjacent areas such as marketing, production, branding and influencer culture. We welcome traditional essays and research papers and non-traditional formats, such as roundtables, interviews, and think-pieces, from people inside and outside of the academy. Topics might include but are not limited to:
- Conspiracy theories and/as fandom.
- ‘Culture wars’, intra- and inter-fan conflicts, and other broader disagreements or discontent about the meaning and values of popular cultural texts.
- The consequences of anti-fandom and toxic fandom.
- Expressions and practices of ethical consumption, whether via “cancel culture”, commodity activism or similar.
- The moral economies of fandom, and their consequences for the media and cultural industries.
- The ethical implications of participation, whether through fan activism, dark fandom or other.
- The environmental impact of fandom, from NFTs to fan tourism.
Please send an abstract of 300 words, along with a short author biography of 150 words to email@example.com by 31 July 2021. Please also address any queries to this email address.