in visual media, fatness is presented as a problem to be fixes. Fatness becomes the subject of the show rather than the people themselves, and anything deemed ‘fat’ cannot exist without its accompanying value judgement. In short, media represents bodies as either adequate, or in the process of becoming adequate– and there is very little in between.

Jocelyn L. Bailey (“The Body Police: Lena Dunham, Susan Bordo, and HBO’s Girls,” 2015, pg. 31)

Katie Morrissey (@_katiedidnt [on twitter]) presented a paper called ‘Digital Romance: Crowdfunding & Multiplatform Love Stories’ on romance stories distributed online. These stories, known for their interaction and the specific media platforms they use – are an example of convergence culture – ‘where old and new media collide’ (to borrow a phrase from Henry Jenkins, whom Morrissey cites). Focusing on Check, Please! by Ngozi [Ukazu], a story about two male hockey players falling in love disseminated on Tumblr and Twitter, and Fresh Romance, a multi-author serial comic which has appeared online and in print.

Morrissey described Check, Please! as difficult to define and analyse. She noted that it is difficult to know what terms to use for these texts – are they romances? Fiction? Chick lit? These texts also self-define as not romance – they label themselves as more diverse, savvy and sex-positive, defining themselves against a monolithic idea of romance. Morrissey proposed that such romance could be labelled ‘born digital’ – a term she applies to romances that began online but have now moved to print (although she does wonder what might we ‘lose’ by calling something ‘born digital’?). She argued that, as scholars, we look at romance in very fixed contexts and that we need to expand out methods to include convergence items like these. She proposed three strategies for this and asked for feedback:
Focus on a single text and trace its development through different media forms
Conduct a macro/micro level genre analysis
Look at individual readers and patterns of how they read

Amy Burge, “#ConferenceReport: PCA 2017,” Pink Heart Society, May 3, 2017.

I would really love to hear what other people think regarding the concept of a “born digital” romance, as well as on these ideas for methods.

Also, I’m trying to collect more examples different of “born digital” romances. Do you have any you’d like to send my way?

If feminist porn is first and foremost about highlighting women’s sexual pleasure and about the politics of producing that pleasure… then no cultural production better matches this mandate than romantic fiction… Central to romance fiction, as to feminist porn, is the depiction not simply of sexual activity but of women’s sexual satisfaction

Catherine M. Roach (Happily Ever After, pg 94)


Also, for any new followers, a recap of important info about the project:

  • About the Project (and more about me)
  • How You Can Help:
    The Fandom Then/Now project is not a formal survey or structured questionnaire. Instead, Fandom Then/Now is intended to be an ongoing conversation/brainstorming session where I share past work and some of the questions that are propelling my current research. This is designed to be a participatory process. Along with the past findings, there are questions spread across the website. Please comment on the website (or here using the #fandomthennow tag) whenever you feel inspired to share your own thoughts and observations.
  • What You Should Know:
    This project seeks public comments and feedback from a wide variety of fans. Remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments associated with the Fandom Then/Now project and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. I take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the project’s Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process.



For many people, fan fiction is as much a part of their reading as commercial literature. Fan fiction websites and archives provide readers with novels, serials, novellas, romantic and erotic stories, non-romantic stories, experimental literature, video and visual art, etc. While fan writers and readers are certainly not exclusively interested in romance, fan writing frequently explores the romantic potential between two characters and fan fiction is often built on romantic foundations. The shift to digital publishing and reading is having a dramatic impact on commercial romance literature. However, what about the kinds of romantic and erotic stories fans produce? How is fan work being affected by the rise in digital publishing? The Fandom Then/Now project is designed to facilitate fan conversations and collect ideas from fans about fan fiction’s past and future. 

What do you notice in the data from 2008? What do you think about the intersections between fan fiction and romantic storytelling? Now, in 2015, what has and hasn’t changed about fans’ reading and writing practices? 

Please visit the Fandom Then/Now website to look at the project and share your thoughts. 

You can also follow the project on Tumblr at


I hope everyone is having a lovely spring!

As the spring semester winds down I’m getting ready to start up another round of fandomthennow posts. I’m going to jump back into posting excerpts from the project website. As in the past, these posts will be made on Tumblr, Twitter, LiveJournal, and Dreamwidth. Please feel free to comment, reblog, and share in any of those spaces.

First, I’m going to repost some important details/background information about the project, just to refresh everyone’s memories.

There is an inexorable circularity in the dominant argument that condemns romantic comedy as the most mediocre and repetitive of genres because, since a romantic comedy is a love story with a happy ending, all romantic comedies end the same way. If we accept that there are other dimensions to the genre apart from the happy ending then the recognition of much greater formal and ideological variety will immediately ensue. The ending of the romantic comedy appears to be so highly conventionalised that it seems critically tendentious to draw so much attention to it, overlooking what makes the genre rich, varied and, in sum, culturally important.

Celestino Deleyto, The Secret Life of Romantic Comedies, 2009 (24)

A circular argument has been more or less universally accepted whereby only those films that include certain conventions and a certain ‘conservative’ perspective on relationships are romantic comedies and, therefore, romantic comedies are the most conventional and conservative of all genres. If a film threatens to be mildly interesting in cinematic, narrative or ideological terms then it cannot possibly be a romantic comedy. It is a very popular argument and one that manages to contain the genre with very strict and narrow parameters

Celestino Deleyto, The Secret Life of the Romantic Comedy, 2009 (3)

Negotiating between the private and public, the past and the present, Hollywood romantic comedy seeks to shape coherent perspectives on love from the contradictory utterances that compose it. Conceptualisations of love may be constantly in flus – along with broader configurations of romance, sexuality, gender identity and marriage – but the genre routinely celebrates it as an immutable, almost mystical force that guides two individuals who are ‘made for each other’ into one another’s arms.

Frank Krutnik, “Conforming Passions?: Contemporary Romantic Comedy” (138, in Neale’s Genre and Contemporary Hollywood, 2002)