Expository Writing 9.2: Duffett and Fandom / Research Papers

Today’s plan:

  • Duffett’s Intro to Understanding Fandom
  • Research Query
  • Homework

Duffett’s Introduction

Here’s a list of passages and questions I think we can tease out of Duffett’s introduction:

  • Understanding fandom as an expression of personal identity (2-3, 25. 29-31 and the discussion of identification ): Duffett offers an explication of fandom as an investment of personal experience, arguing that our interest in particular objects of fandom stems from how those objects inform–consciously or unconsciously–our sense of self. Working from Duffett’s claims, I want to examine my own interest in [x]
  • Understanding how media “reconfigure everyday experience” (5, 7): Duffett notes how Jenkins and other media scholars locate the value of fandom in part in how fans use media to negotiate and understand problems in the world, that “media [have a] tendency to reconfigure everyday experience,” to help us see the world differently. In this essay, I explore how the science fiction television shows Deep Space Nine and Battlestar Galactica helped both myself and a community of fans to live in a post 9/11 world (or, conversely, how other cultural shows operate as pure distraction that turn our attention away from serious problems, see 7)
  • Duffett notes that fan researchers often explore the rise “do-it-yourself” fandom, noting how “amateur producers and prominent fans have developed following in their own right” and how “coteries of professional broadcasters and critics are no longer the only group with a voice in the media” (15, see also 23). I examine a range of such amateur producers in the X community, noting Y.
  • “Fandoms […] create social structures, ecologies, rituals, traditions of their own” (17); similarly “fans are networkers, collectors, tourists, archivists, curators, producers, and more” (21). See also 26 for the discussion of “auto-didacts,” self-taught experts. But the question here: why do fans do these things?
  • Issues with audience involvement, how to measure both the degree and the quantity as well as to ask questions of why fans are invested: “The ‘work’ of fandom includes the ways it can heighten our sense of excitement, prompt our self-reflexivity, encourage us to discuss shared values and ethics, and supply us with a significant source of meaning that extends into our daily lives” (18). Who are fans? Why are they fans? What do they do? What is the difference between why they say they are fans and why we might think they are fans (so, what do they think they are getting out of the activity, and what other value/meaning might we attach?) What discussions of broader social values do we see a show engendering?
  • Research Query

    I’ve posted a thread to Canvas as a way for me to get a sense of your final paper projects, in order to best assess how I can help you over the next few weeks. What I would like you to do here is to write 5 sentences regarding what you are, will, or might study for your final paper.

    Try to think about these sentences in terms of a question, along the lines of what Booth framed in the reading I distributed. What is a focused question that you might explore? I believe Duffett gives quite a few questions on how fans act, why fans are attached to objects of fandom, and how fans see themselves and perceptions of their communities. So, reshaping the default paper option I outlined last week, you might explore your own interest and attachments, or you might attempt to look at a community from a distance. You might look at the various economic circulations in a fan community, or you might look at the symbolic meaning, the identities and values, fans draw from their objects. Additionally, you might look at how both the objects of fandom and the community negotiate questions of race, gender, and sexuality.

    Of course, there is also the possibility that you develop a topic disconnected from fandom. If you choose to do this, then you need to locate a debate in popular culture. The best way to do this is with a smart essay–such as the Gladwell essay I shared, or the Franken essay–that gives you material to research to which you can respond.


    Since I will be out of town next week, I will ask you to continue with your weekly writing. Additionally, however, I wanted to set the deadline for the first drafts of your longer paper: these will be due on November 17th. Since we will not be meeting for class next week, I strongly advise you to begin working on the paper. Don’t begin with a general introduction, rather, begin by summarizing the text to which you will respond–highlighting both its central claims and acknowledging what it supplies as evidence for those claims.

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