Fan Studies Research Goals and Interests

For my work in fan studies, I am interested in a) ethical research methodologies when working with fans and fan materials (or more generally thinking about digital writing research), b) prioritizing role of queer communities, marginalized genders, people of color, and neurally diverse writers and characters in these communities, c) incorporating computational methods to analyze larger corpora of fan texts, d) using Rhetorical Genre Studies to analyze fan uptakes, and d) navigating my positionality as both an active fan and academic.

Digital Writing Research and Positionality

By using digital writing research as a methdological framework, I want to tringulate multiple sources of data, including conversations with other fans, my own experiences, and fan materials to describe genres and ideologies in online fan communities as well as the impact of these literacy practices impact fans relationships with writing and reading.

Computational Methods

With the permission of the Organization for Transformative Works, I used Jingyi Li and Sarah Sterman's Python code to scrape over 3,000 The Legend of Korra fan fiction texts and their metadata. I am using Python to analyze large corpora of The Legend of Korra fan fictions that I retrieved from Archive of Our Own to perform computational text analysis. Part of my hope for doing computational text analysis is to celebrate the labors of love performed in fan communities; these labors of love often revolve around and are performed by marginalized people, particular women, people from the queer community, and people of color. I also want to think about the relationship between the original text (The Legend of Korra) and fan uptake.

One of my interesting preliminary finds is that the average word count for "General Audience" fan fictions is 2,000, while the average word count for "Mature" fan fictions is 20,000. Based on my participation in writing and reading fan fictions for 15 years, I speculates this difference is because "Mature" fan fictions typically build tension between characters to lead to moments of intimacy, while "General Audience" fan fictions are often one-shots, or one chapter that explores a particular moment/idea from the canonical text. I hope to conduct further research using computational, close reading, and interview methods.