Returning to ‘Becoming-a-Fan’ Stories: Theorising Transformational Objects and the Emergence/Extension of Fandom

Authored by: Matt Hills

The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409455622
eBook ISBN: 9781315612959
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043485


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Fan studies has had much to say about fan cultures and communities, but rather less to say about how people become fans in the first place. Indeed, in his textbook Understanding Fandom (2013: 124), Mark Duffett goes so far as to describe this issue as an ‘elephant in the room’. In a sense, it is understandable that fandom has typically been theorised as communal, cultural and social: this means that it can be studied as a pre-existent, lived identity. However, by focusing on specific fan communities, the phenomenology of fandom has been somewhat downplayed and marginalised in much scholarship, as have accounts of how people become fans in the first place. Likewise, trajectories of fandom have been displaced by reified, fixed models of what it means to be a fan:

too often theorizations … have been based on restrictive typologies, rather than considering the process, development and … fluidity of being a contemporary … fan. … These also tend to present static models, which fail to recognise the … temporality of individuals’ locations within these communities. (Crawford 2004: 38)

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