AO3 has a Fandom academic journal. Here’s why it matters.

Surprise, I’m here to tell you why fandom academic journals like AO3 Transforming Works and Cultures are important. So you might be asking yourself a very important question: Wait, Archive of Our Own (AO3) has an academic journal? I’m here to tell you, “Yes, yes they do, and it’s beautiful.”

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) publishes articles that examine media studies as well as fandoms and fan works. While they’re at it, the journal really questions what is and isn’t academic writing. As a master’s student in English at the academy, TWC is who I want to be when I grow up.

It is perhaps no great surprise that TWC is operated by the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), a non-profit organization run by fans, for fans. OTW is explicitly interested in “providing access to and preserving the history of fan works and fan culture in its many forms”. We believe fan art is transformative and transformative art is legitimate. They support a range of free fan sites like AO3 (known for their fan fiction), Legal Advocacy, Fanlore, Open Doors, and yes, TWC. The organization is an incredibly efficient non-profit organization that helps monitor and curate fandom-related content available to other fans for free.

Since the early zines of the 1960s, fans have created their own media on fan properties distributed to other fans. Unsurprisingly, Fanlore has a wonderful history of creating and distributing fanzines in the 1900s. Fans have been shipping and writing on their ships for a long, long time. It was common to find fanzines offering fandom non-fiction items. Other zines have shared fan fiction, fan art, and other fan works. Content by fan for fan is nothing new. It is natural to assume that the transition to the internet age, fandom and the study of fandom would take place online.

The Online World of TWC Journals and Academic Fandom

OTW was founded in 2007. They have developed and launched sites like AO3 which take on the mantle of fan art, fandoms and other transformative works for the public. To put that in perspective with other internet stories, it was also the year Tumblr was founded, Twitter was created a year before, and YouTube started a year before that.

The first volume TWC released was in 2008, and they have been in operation ever since. Their articles constantly talk about pushing the boundaries of discourse in fandom.

They also post about the intersectionality of queer and/or BIPOC fans in articles. I must mention “Transformative Racism: The Black Body in Fan Art” by Poe Johnson, “Race, storying, and restorying: What can we learn from black fans? » by Jessica Pruett, « Lesbian fandom remakes the boy band », by Jessica Pruett. and Edmond Ernest dit Alban “I Eat Straight People Too: Straight male fandoms writing LGBTQ+ media history in Japan”.

TWC is also known for posting articles that examine specific former fan communities and fan works. “Victorian penny press plagiarisms as transmedia storytelling” by Erica Haugtvedt, “Viewing 18th Century Prophecy as a Transformative Work” by Andrew Crome, and “Women’s Fan Writing and Transformative Works in 11th Century Japan” by Ellis Khachidze all detail the deep fan stories. The articles are, frankly, wonderful.

The Academy’s relationship with Fandom

the 1933 cover of Weird Tales

I think the tools the academy uses to study traditional academic subjects should be used to examine fan art. magazines like TWC publish work that has developed from a variety of humanities disciplines that include, but are not limited to, English, history, art history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and film studies.

I freely admit that the work I tend to do in English academic spaces tends towards TWCit’s bread and butter. I’ve researched popular, lowbrow, or whatever word you’d want to use for media without too much scientific debate – think YA books, fantasy novels, and strange tales magazine news. I am interested in the job TWC done because this is a growing area that still needs to be explored further.

There is more than one academic fandom journal?

Other academic journals look at fandom. First published in 2012, the Fandom Studies Journal delves into the critical exploration of fandom and pop culture. Holdings has published articles on media, culture and the public since 2003. popular communication examines the media, daily life, culture and communication on the Internet among other popular content, and has been since 2003. Then you have M/C – A Journal of Media and Culture has been publishing, you guessed it, media and culture articles since 1998.

Today we only look TWC as a first example, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that the journal is in communication with other academics. TWC is part of a larger movement to study, research, and preserve the development of fandom.

Why are fandom academic journals important?

As fans and seekers, what we choose to give our time and attention matters. We say, “Hey you! Yes you. Come here and look at this thing. Isn’t it strange? Don’t want to know more? We contribute hours, months or years of our lives to documenting and examining fandoms and fan works. We believe that there is something special here that deserves a critical look. It’s a place where we dissect the body of the work, extract and examine all the hidden elements within, and connect them to a bigger picture that’s easier for everyone to see.

So, in true academy fashion (and honestly traditional story structure), we return to my request. Fandom academic journals like AO3 Transforming Works and Cultures are important. This is an expansion of existing community fan discussions that I am sure go back further than the fandom fandoms of the 1900s. It is important that fandom scholarly journals fill a gap in humanities research – that gap being their examination not only of new media, but also of the media that fans create about that media. Finally, it is important to treat our fans and fandoms with sincerity.

Fandom will grow and change in weird ways whether we watch closely or not, so someone has to pay attention. As a fan and researcher, I’m also biased. But still, isn’t it TWC a weird little piece of the internet you want to learn more about?

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