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Television and Fan Culture

ENGL 295.401
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

Organized fandom anticipated, and in many ways invented, modern social media: for fans, mass media has always been an opportunity for group interaction and creativity. In this course, we will study the history of cult television shows like Star Trek, The Man from Uncle, Beauty and the Beast, The X-Files, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Sherlock, and Doctor Who and the fan cultures that have organized around them. Like the serialized novels of the 19th century, television narratives are experienced both intimately (in the privacy of the home) and communally (as the subject of community discussion.) We will study media fandom both as a discursive practice and as an artmaking community, focusing on a variety of fan arts (fiction, visual art, multimedia art and video, crafts, theatre). We will also study the various communications mechanisms (e.g. zines, Usenet, social media) and tools (e.g. photocopiers, VCRs, digital editing software) that fans have used to make and share culture. Lastly, we will discuss the ways in which fandom is currently being mainstreamed (and perhaps commodified) and examine some of the ways in which fans are organizing to advocate for their own interests.  Students will be expected to become familiar with - and contribute to - the ongoing development of fan studies as an academic discipline and an artistic movement.