Fanfiction In Medieval Studies
Conference: 51st International Congress in Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May 12-15, 2016)
Organizer: Anna Wilson
Call for papers: Over the past three decades, there has been increasing interest in both Fan Studies and Medieval Studies in the relationship between medieval literary culture and fanfiction (that is, popular, ‘unofficial’, fan-generated fiction writing that participates in a pre-existing fictional ‘universe’ and uses its characters). Many Fan Studies scholars have seen fanfiction as the heir to the premodern literary tradition in which authors adapt, rework, reinterpret or otherwise engages with a pre-existing literary work. These arguments often refer to the Aeneid’s reworking of Homer, romances in the Alexander or Arthurian traditions, or specific works, such as Robert Henryson’s Testament of Cresseidor Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, as ‘early fan fiction’. Fanfiction scholars have also claimed the medieval ‘active reader’, whose creativity spilled into glosses, commentaries and exegesis, as part of the history of fanfiction writers. However, there is currently little reflection on what this comparison might mean for medievalists. Can this analogy generate new readings of medieval literature texts or communities? How can we build a productive comparison between fanfiction and medieval literatures while retaining a sense of individual historical contexts and avoiding over-simplification?
This session invites papers that reflect on points of analogy between fanfiction and medieval literatures. Close-readings and case studies are welcome, but papers should ideally include attention to methodology. Papers might discuss: interest in amateur medievalisms, affect, volunteer labour, community formation on social media, the ‘active reader’ and marginalia, remix culture, gendered reading, the digital humanities, the erosion of the line between ‘public’ medievalism and that of the academy, fanfiction and pedagogy, and the question of relevance.
Please submit abstracts of 300 words or less, and a Participation Information Form (available here: http://wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF) to Anna Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org). Deadline: 15 September 2015