Fandom/Fan Cultures

Authored by: Anne Kustritz

The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946156
eBook ISBN: 9781315670997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines historical, theoretical, and legal continuities and discontinuities between organized, transformative fan cultures and fairy-tale storytelling cultures. Following Henry Jenkins, who argued that modern fan cultures are inheritors of pre-industrial collective storytelling traditions, this piece similarly contends that fan creativity and folk culture storytelling share important practices and structures, including collective authorship and the adaptation of existing narratives for new audiences, situations, and needs. The influence of mass media and intellectual property law are key intervening variables that dramatically change the social value and political significance of such transformative storytelling cultures, which treat texts as a commons that can be appropriated and reconfigured by anyone. Copyright, in contrast, freezes a collectively developed story at one fixed point and turns the legacies of storytelling cultures into one corporation’s private property. Transformative fan cultures and fairy-tale storytelling cultures place precedence on all people’s ability to become authors of their own culture and insert themselves into the ongoing narrative flow that makes sense of and shapes the world around us. In this sense, fan fiction is merely the label for transformative storytelling cultures with a collective ethos, when they arise from within the context of copyright and mass media.

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