Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here or on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. But, before we begin, let me introduce myself.
About the Project
Fandom Then/Now is an idea I’ve been sitting on for a while. When I completed my MA Thesis in 2008, I shared the final thesis project with individuals who asked to see it. However, I’d done a large survey as part of the thesis project and I really wanted to share the results with fans. At the time, I got the idea to put all my results online and open them up for fans to look at and give input on. I was getting ready to do start this in 2009 but then SurveyFail happened.
SurveyFail was incredibly unsettling to me. Roughly one year after I launched my 2008 project, here were these two individuals (Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam) calling their survey project the same exact name as my 2008 survey and using eerily similar methods to reach out to fans and request for fan participation. And yet, Ogas and Gaddam’s motives, politics, and research ethics seemed to be completely contrary to my own.
At the time in 2009, my response was to duck and hide. I didn’t want to give Ogas and Gaddam any publicity and I didn’t want any research I’d done associated with them. The SurveyFail incident also made me particularly concerned about the ways research on fans is conducted. I felt strongly that research on fans and digital cultures is a process that must have more dialogue built into it. In October 2010 I presented “Fen Responses to Fan Research: Methods of Participation and Engagement” at the Midwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association’s annual conference. In this paper I reflected on my 2008 survey project, the 2009 SurveyFail incident and called for fan researchers to design more participatory and conversational research projects. I hoped that this participatory approach would help to counterbalance some of the issues that internet/digital culture researchers were struggling with at the time.
Fandom Then/Now is an experiment. It’s my way of testing out what a participatory and ongoing research project might look like. As a scholar, I begin any new project by building on my past experiences and research. That’s where Fandom Then/Now begins. I’m starting with past work that has been integral to shaping my thoughts about fan fiction and romantic storytelling. Into this, I’ve woven in many of the questions and ideas that are driving my current research project (my dissertation).
I want to share these initial thoughts and ideas while I’m working on my dissertation. I’m hoping that fans will be able to add their own thoughts along the way and help to shape the research. My goal is for fans to participate not as research “subjects” or bits of data, but as peer reviewers.
I am Katherine Morrissey, a PhD Candidate in Media, Cinema and Digital Studies in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I also have a Master’s in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. My research focuses on production networks for popular culture, representations of female desire, and the ways that digital production is reorganizing romantic storytelling. My research is grounded in my experiences as a queer feminist, geek girl, and acafan. I have been actively participating in fan communities since 1996.
At UWM, I’ve taught courses on film, television, and digital media, participatory culture, and romance genres across media. I will be starting a Visiting Assistant Professor position at the Rochester Institute of Technology in fall 2014. I also have professional experience in web and graphic design, as well as communications and marketing in the non-profit sector.
If you’d like to check out some of my other recent work, you might be interested in the following:
“Fifty Shades of Remix: The Intersecting Pleasures of Commercial & Fan Romances.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies. 4.1. (2014) 1-17.