Canons and Fan Studies

***This post is written by Kimberley Chiu who analyses how fan fiction is changing artistic canons in relation to the Marvel and Star Wars expanded universes. Kimberley is on Twitter @kimberley_chiu. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission as part of our CityLIS Writes initiative ***

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Authorship is considered a collaborative endeavour in the infosphere. What impact is this having on the ways information is valued?

The growth and development of the infosphere has had a profound impact on the relationship between people and the information they create, curate, and receive – one which is in many ways exemplified in the shifting relationship between fans and canon. Canon, or “a source, or sources, considered authoritative by the fannish community”, is a record of “what fans agree ‘actually’ happened” (Fanlore 2020) in a fictional text or property; in other words, canon is information which is considered ‘true’ in the context of a fictional universe. The concept of canon relies on an approach to narrative which, “while recognising [a] story’s constructedness, treats it as if its narrative world were a real place that can be inhabited and explored” (Jenkins 2013, 115), and which thus can contain and produce information which functions in an identical way to information about the real world. This essay will explore the ways in which such information is valued by the fans who engage with it, and how this engagement affects and is affected by various approaches to authorship within fandom.

While ideas about the nature and importance of fictional information certainly existed before and outside of the infosphere, the rapid growth of online fandom and the increasing ubiquity of pop cultural discussion and analysis driven by digital publishing trends have made them much more prominent within, and even outside of, fan communities. The proliferation of headlines like “Avengers: Endgame writers clarify Captain America’s ending” (Chichizola 2019), “How Captain Marvel Changes What We Know About of the MCU” (Stone 2019), and “How much did Doctor Who’s The Timeless Children actually change canon?” (Jeffrey 2020) reflect a growing focus on the construction and amendment of canon as a way of consuming, and a reason to consume, fictional media. Implicit in each of these headlines is the assumption that stories are valuable not only as forms of art or entertainment but also as sources of fictional facts – and, indeed, that such facts have value in themselves. To read or watch a show thus becomes an exercise in finding and collecting the facts contained within the story; the consumption of narrative is, in the infosphere, increasingly becoming a form of information work.
The transformation of fans from audience members to information workers is one of the many ways in which concepts of authorship and authority have become increasingly contested within fandom. The growing interest in canon has also foregrounded issues of authority; canon is, after all, fundamentally an authorised text, and thus implies the existence of an author or definitive authorising force. This force is often assumed to be the rights-holder of a fictional property, especially for franchises where each individual instalment may have its own creator or creators: in the case of Star Wars, for example, it is Lucasfilm and its parent company Disney, rather than any individual creative involved in the series, who is generally considered by fans to be the author of canon. This is in large part due to the rights-holder’s exclusive ability to approve, or not approve, the use of a brand name or other “official” mark of validity in any given work. Instances in which rights-holders have demonstrated this ability, such as when the entirety of the Star Wars Expanded Universe “was famously removed from the official timeline when Disney bought Lucasfilm” (Zakarin 2015), can thus be seen as attempts to claim not only sole ownership over intellectual property but also sole authority over a fictional world. To view canon as valuable, therefore, is also to value a single, authorised set of information – and, by extension, to accede to the authority of a singular author.

Yet the birth and growth of online fandom poses significant challenges to the idea of singular authorship. Collaborative authorship is central to fandom, which “is, perhaps first and foremost, an institution of theory and criticism” (Jenkins 2013, 86) in which “meaning-production is not a solitary and private process but rather a social and public one” (ibid, 75). In the infosphere, much of this meaning-production takes the form of activities which place fans in positions of shared authority over canon. One example of this is the proliferation of fan-created, crowdsourced databases like TARDIS Wikia and Wookieepedia which collect, curate, and present information related to particular fictional worlds. These databases are treated as depositories of factual information analogous to sites like Wikipedia, and their status as fan-made and fan-run projects gives fans a kind of collective authority over this information. Through the creation and maintenance of these sites, fans become keepers and curators of the canon they record, and thus can also be considered “executive author[s]”, who act as “compiler[s] of the verbal text up to the point where it is judged suitable for publication” (Love 2002, 43). Fans also adopt the role of author within transformative fandom, which centres around the creation of transformative works such as fanart and fanfiction, and which has experienced a major boom with the growth of online fan spaces: as of July 2019, there were five million works on a single fanfiction site, Archive of Our Own, alone (Organisation of Transformative Works 2019). Transformative fandom revolves around the production and consumption of fan-made, unauthorised works, and thus offers a challenge to the very idea of the necessity of a single authorised text.

The relationship between fandom and authorship, like the relationship between fandom and canon, is thus complex and contradictory, as rights-holders’ claims to sole authorship of a single text come into conflict with the collaborative meaning-making that defines much fan activity. Such conflicts, and their implications for the valuation of fictional information within fandom, are understood most clearly in the rare instances in which fans reject a supposedly authorised text entirely. Two recent examples of this include the backlash against the films Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), which were vocally decried and, in some cases, disavowed by certain segments of their respective fandoms. While some fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe expressed their rejection of Endgame through scathing criticism, such as the claim that its “ending obliterates years of character development” (Baker-Whitelaw 2019) and that its treatment of certain characters “seems so against [their] DNA that it shakes the character[s]” (Rusak 2019), the backlash against The Last Jedi was so severe that it even included a “plan to remake” the movie (Heritage 2018). Central to these responses was the idea that the objectionable elements of the films in question were not just bad but also wrong, an idea exemplified in a tweet by the “Remake The Last Jedi” project which reads simply “your Luke is not the real Luke” (Remake The Last Jedi, 2019). In these disputes between supposedly authorised texts and the fans who reject them, fans appear to claim authorship, or at least co-authorship, of canon, with the authority to decide what is and is not “real”.

This claim to co-authorship lies at the heart of the Remake The Last Jedi project, which seems to regard fan approval and the approval of the rights-holders as equally necessary to the authorisation of a text. While the fans involved in the project clearly assume their own right to authorise and de-authorise prospective aspects of canon, they also seem to view the approval of the rights-holder as essential, as demonstrated by their repeated demands “that Disney strike down… The Last Jedi from history” (Maine 2017) and “[share] the intellectual property” (Remake The Last Jedi 2018) required to create an official remake. These demands suggest a continuing acceptance of the ultimate authority of the rights-holder; whatever the force of their views, those involved in the project are unable to make them canon without “a reply from @robertiger” (Remake The Last Jedi 2018). Here, information is only considered “true”, and thus valuable, if accepted and verified by both authorising forces. This thus represents a model of collaborative authorship which is focused less on creation than on de-creation, as fans and rights-holders’ claims to authorship rest on their apparent right to reject, rather than to create, new information. This focus on deauthorisation as a form and function of authorship can also be seen in the project’s radically exclusionary stance; their very rejection of The Last Jedi is, after all, also a rejection of the alternative, more positive reactions from fellow fans and viewers, who gave the film “glowing reviews and an overwhelmingly positive response” (Baker-Whitelaw 2019). More significantly, the project was also part of a broader campaign of bigoted harassment as fans “complain[ed] about ‘diversity’ ruining Star Wars”, “bombard[ed]” the director, Rian Johnson, “with angry messages” (Baker-Whitelaw 2018), and subjected one actor, Kelly Marie Tran, to “months of racist and sexist harassment” (Grady 2018).
Seen in this light, the Remake The Last Jedi project, and the model of collaborative authorship it represents, seems to focus not on creating, collecting, and disseminating accurate information, but rather on identifying and punishing what they see as “blasphemy” (Taylor 2018). What this suggests is a conception of canon which uses the term in its original sense, that of “church law” (Online Etymology Dictionary 2020), the transgression of which is an offence much greater than the mere miscreation of information. The emphasis on excising objectionable content from canon, of cutting out what is “wrong” with extreme prejudice, reveals the depth of these fans’ desire for purity, and thus the high value they place on the creation of a single, unimpeachable, perfect story. This vision of fictional information is, in many ways, the logical endpoint of the same ideas which underlie the concept of canon in the first place: if information about fictional worlds can function in same way as information about the real world, then this information can also be either true or false – and, if one subscribes to an objectivist view of reality, absolutely so. Yet the ferocity with which these fans pursue the creation and confirmation of what they see as the “truth” suggests that this truth, to them, carries a higher value than that usually conferred upon information that just happens to be correct. Here, canon becomes not just an authorised text but a sacred one, and information which is accepted is elevated in value, as it is seen not just as something true but as something holy.

The unusually high value which such fans place on the “truth” of fictional information contrasts sharply with the approach to this same information taken by transformative fandom. Like the various forms of criticism discussed above, the creation of transformative works is often, though by no means always, a response to fans’ disagreement with an authorised text. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for instance, has “spawned an incredibly active transformative fandom” (Jaworski and Baker-Whitelaw 2019) which distinguishes itself by its frequent opposition to official narratives: “the one thing [the fandom’s most popular pairings] have in common is a total lack of recognition in canon” (ibid). Transformative fandom also embraces collaborative authorship; whereas approaches like the one taken by the Remake The Last Jedi project envision a collaboration between the rights-holder and a small group of fans with similar if not identical opinions, however, transformative fandom is dedicated to collective meaning-making within broader communities. Community forms an essential part of the creation and consumption of transformative works, as creators create for an audience of their peers, who often respond with comments, interpretation, or even new creations of their own. The result of this is a sense of collective, rather than individual, ownership over stories and fictional information: as Sheenagh Pugh observes, “fanfic writers do not speak or think of ‘my characters’… but they do speak and think of ‘our characters’, a shared resource that the whole community of that fandom… knows and cares about” (Pugh 2015, 67).

This focus on community and conception of story as a “shared resource” suggests a lack of interest within transformative fandom in creating or maintaining a single, authoritative “truth”. The model of authorship on display within transformative fandom, after all, is in itself opposed to any claims to singular authority: as creators and consumers are peers and collaborative equals, no one person can “claim to have a greater insight into the characters and universe with which they play than their readers, who know the canon as well as they do” (Pugh 2015, 222). In transformative fandom, all fans are thus authors without authority, whose views are no more or less acceptable than anyone else’s; each person has the ability to create new stories and new information, but not the right to decide what is correct or incorrect, true or untrue. This kind of collaborative authorship, with its emphasis on creation rather than authorisation, can never produce a single definitive text; instead, it represents a “kind of composition for which the process of authorship is never a complete one but passed on from agent to agent, all of whom will subject it to their own forms of alteration” (Love 2002, 38), ultimately producing not a static canon but a text which is perpetually in flux.

This text is not only constantly changing but also full of contradictions; if all authors’ stories are equally acceptable, after all, then multiple contradictory stories must be able to coexist without invalidating each other. While Natasha Romanoff may be dead at the end of Avengers: Endgame, she may also be alive and living in the 1940s with Steve Rogers (anothercover 2019a), or a singer in a rock band (anothercover 2019b), or a shapeshifting spider (dirtybinary 2017), or a high school student (M_Leigh 2014). While these stories offer what seem obviously to be mutually exclusive accounts, they are equally “real” to the fans who write and read them; in fact, the ability to consume, accept, and enjoy multiple contradictory versions of a fictional reality is one of the central pleasures of transformative fandom. Not only are none of the works produced by transformative fandom seen as, or intended to be, authoritative, but this approach to narrative also undermines canon’s claim to authority and truthfulness. Though transformative fandom does continue to recognise a distinction between official, canonical text and unofficial, fan-made stories, its approach to fictional reality, which treats it not as a “real” place about which factual statements can be made but as an unreal space which can contain infinite versions of itself, is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of a singular, authorised account. As David A Brewer observes, “the more… manifestations a text [takes], the less it [is] regarded as immanent in any particular manifestation” (2005, 95), and the proliferation of alternate versions of the same text within transformative fandom makes it difficult to conceive of any one of them, even the original, as being definitive. Canon, therefore, becomes not so much a true record of fictional facts as just another story, albeit one with a more impressive origin.

Fans in transformative fandom, therefore, value information about fictional worlds in a fundamentally different way to fans like those involved in the Remake The Last Jedi project. Transformative fandom utterly rejects the idea that fictional information can, like information in the real world, be true or untrue; the value of such information thus becomes decoupled from notions of truth altogether. If it is not truthfulness or accuracy that gives fictional information its value, however, then what is this value based on? The answer to this question lies in the way that transformative fandom approaches canon: not as an authoritative record but as “a framework to write against” (Pugh 2015, 40). Rachel Baverblat more clearly illustrates this relationship between canon text and transformative works by comparing the writing of fanfiction to the writing of “midrash, exegetical stories that seek to explore and explain idiosyncrasies in our holy texts” (2014). To Baverblat, “fans are midrashists who explore and explicate texts” (ibid); canon forms the backbone of fan writing, acting as the central text around and within which fan works are built. At the same time, however, Baverblat argues that “in classical Jewish traditions, midrash are considered to be Oral Torah… part of the continuing unfolding of divine revelation” (2014), and are of a similar status to written Torah even as they are dependent upon it; in the same way, the dependence of fanfiction and other transformative works on canon does not automatically give them a lower status or a lesser value.

Canon texts are, however, more valuable than fan-made ones in one regard: their usefulness as tools to create more stories. Not only do canonical texts form the basis of fan works, but they also serve as a common language shared by fans within a community: as Pugh observes, “fanfic writers not only have their own knowledge of the canon but can assume a similar knowledge on the part of their readership” (2015, 32), and the status of canon as common knowledge thus makes it more useful than other texts as a shared point of reference. Insofar as canonical texts are more valuable than other, unofficial sources of information about the same fictional worlds, it is because of their greater productivity – their capacity to enable the creation of yet more stories, of ever more information.
The growth of collaborative authorship in fan spaces has thus resulted in the emergence of two opposing ways in which to value fictional information. While some parts of fandom pursue collaboration with rights-holders in order to create a pure, ultimately truthful, and thus ultimately valuable narrative, others use collaborative meaning-making as a way to make more meaning, regardless of its claim to truth. Transformative fandom’s approach to fictional information, with its total rejection of fictional “facts”, is a notable departure from the ideas about canon which dominate online pop-cultural discourse. It is ironic, then, that this approach which so vividly reflects captures the ways in which information functions in the infosphere. In valuing uncertainty over certainty, and productivity over authority, transformative fandom rejects a single, ordered reality in favour of a multiplicity of stories, and thus embraces the information overload that defines the infosphere with open arms.

Bibliography:
anothercover. 2019a. pretty face, electric soul. https://archiveofourown.org/works/20203927. Accessed 11/5/20.
anothercover. 2019b. down in the valley. https://archiveofourown.org/works/18443906. Accessed 11/5/20.
Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia, and Michelle Jaworski. 2019. “The 10 most influential fandoms of the 2010s”. The Daily Dot.
Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia. 2018. “Star Wars backlash is the new Gamergate”. The Daily Dot.
Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia. 2019. “How the straight agenda ruined ‘Avengers: Endgame’”. The Daily Dot.
Baverblat, Rachel. 2014. “Fanfiction and midrash: making meaning”. In Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures vol. 17.
Brewer, David A. 2005. The Afterlife of Character, 1726-1825. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Chichizola, Corey. 2019. “Avengers: Endgame writers clarify Captain America’s ending”. Cinemablend.com.
DeCardito, Keith. 2019. “Avengers: Endgame – the character assassination of Steve Rogers”. Tor.com.
dirtybinary. 2017. Fourth Floor. https://archiveofourown.org/works/11843493. Accessed 11/5/20.
Grady, Constance. 2018. “Star Wars fans harassed Kelly Marie Tran for months. She just deleted her Instagram posts.” Vox. https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/6/5/17429196/kelly-marie-tran-instagram-deleted-harassment-star-wars-rose-last-jedi. Accessed 30/4/20.
Heritage, Stuart. 2018. “The Last Jedi: what would the $200m fan-funded remake look like?”. The Guardian.
Jeffrey, Morgan. 2020. “How much did Doctor Who’s The Timeless Children actually change canon?”. RadioTimes.com. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2020-03-02/doctor-who-timeless-child-plot/. Accessed 30/4/20.
Jenkins, Henry. 2013. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge.
Love, Harold. 2002. Attributing Authorship: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
M_Leigh. 2014. Middletown: A Study of Suburban Life. https://archiveofourown.org/works/1926372. Accessed 11/5/20.
Maine, Samantha. 2017. “The guy who started the petition to have ‘The Last Jedi’ deleted now regrets it”. NME.com.
Online Etymology Dictionary. 2020. “Canon”. Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/canon. Accessed 30/4/20.
Pugh, Sheenagh. 2015. The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context. Bridgend: Seren Books.
Rusak, Rotem. 2019. “Avengers: Endgame: a lack of closure at the end of the line”. Bam! Smack! Pow!
Sandvoss, Cornel. 2014. “The Death of the Reader? Literary Theory and the Study of Texts in Popular Culture”. In The Fan Fiction Studies Reader, ed. Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.
Stone, Sam. 2019. “How Captain Marvel Changes What We Know About of the MCU”. CBR.com. https://www.cbr.com/how-captain-marvel-changes-mcu/. Accessed 30/4/20.
Taylor, Chris. 2018. “’Last Jedi’ director begs angry fanboys to remake movie: ‘please please please’”. Mashable UK.
Zakarin, Jordan. 2015. “Inside Lucasfilm’s Top Secret Star Wars Database”. Syfy.com. https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/inside-lucasfilm%E2%80%99s-top-secret-star-wars-database-fandom-files-13. Accessed 30/4/20.

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Background Reading for CityLIS 20/21

For those of you planning to study for a masters in Library or Information Science, LIS, here are some suggestions for background reading in preparation for your course.

This is a personal selection of printed books, (although some may be available in electronic format), covering LIS from a broad perspective. The list is not definitive, and other academics and practitioners may well recommend other resources. I have listed the books in an order which would give a sensible overview of the field, although each stands perfectly well on its own.

Although the suggestions are chosen for those of you intending to enroll for the academic year 20/21 with the Library School at City, University of London, CityLIS, it is possible that my recommendations may be of wider interest to anyone interested in understanding LIS related content.

These books should be regarded as key texts; throughout the course we will provide more specific reading lists, including: books, papers, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, videos, podcasts, artworks and places to visit. The literature is always evolving and expanding, but the foundational concepts of LIS remain valid.

In addition to discipline related background reading, those of you joining CityLIS will need to have a Twitter account, and a blog suitable for professional level and course related communication. We suggest WordPress for the blog.

Please follow us on Twitter @CityLIS, and also take some time to explore the materials posted on this blog, which will give you further insight into our content, interests and culture at CityLIS.

The Books

Intro to Inf SciBawden D and Robinson L (2012). Introduction to Information Science. Facet: London

In spite of the deluge of novelty, some texts remain fundamental and I will start by mentioning Introduction to Information Science, which I co-authored with David Bawden, as an accompaniment to our classes in 2012. The text remains a solid place to start if you need an overview of the sort of topics and concepts that are covered in courses relating to library and information science. The text has been very well received, and is now used internationally as a basis for understanding and framing the discipline. We give many ideas for further reading and pathways for following-up with areas you find interesting or especially relevant. You should be able to see the content from the link to the Facet Publications site.

Intro to InformationFloridi L (2010). Information: a very short introduction. OUP: Oxford

The success of OUP’s ‘very short introduction’ series marches on. This series has the enviable, dual status of being both informative, and collectable. It is impossible to stop at ‘just one’ and I find myself drawn by the physical aesthetics of the little volumes to regularly add one more to my set. I would like to mention two titles, which cover respectively the two concepts that are central to our courses: information, and its processing by computers. There are many books which cover information and computing, as neither of these subjects is unique to LIS. These books however, offer an approach suitable for readers from a wide variety of backgrounds, with an interest in information and its communication from a semantic perspective.

Firstly, information. Luciano Floridi is well known for his work on the philosophy of information, which informs our work within library and information science as a discipline and practice. This volume considers the nature of information, and the social and ethical implications it raises.

51UULOTow+L._AC_UL115_Gleick J (2011). The Information. Pantheon

If you enjoy the concept of information from Floridi’s ‘very short introduction’, you might like to read James Gleick’s wider story, “The Information”.

 

sc0004ffe2Magee B (2016). The Story of Philosophy. Dorling Kindersley

If you would like a wider introduction to Western Philosophy, try “The Story of Philosophy” by Brian Magee.

 

 

9780199586592Ince D (2011). The Computer: a very short introduction. OUP: Oxford.

Secondly, the computer. The LIS sector has been inseparable from technology for around 30 years now, although many information professionals still feel anxious when faced with understanding the mechanisms by which information is processed. Darrel Ince’s book offers reassurance, in explaining how a computer works, and importantly, why we need to know. The book is short, with a social focus, and technological pain will not last long.

9781783300419Dempsey L (2014). The nework reshapes the library. Ed. Varnum K. Facet: London

Having embraced the technology, Kenneth Varnum’s 2014 edited volume of Lorcan Dempsey’s writing, The Network Reshapes the Library provides good follow-up reading on how technologies are changing the work of the library professional. Dempsey writes on a diverse range of topics, covering library organization, services and technologies, and the evolution of the library to embrace the learning and research needs of inhabitants of the 21st century.

imagesWright A (2014). Cataloguing the World: Paul Otlet and the birth of the information age. OUP: Oxford

The modern information age, underpinning our library and information services today, is often attributed to the work at the turn of the 19th century by Paul Otlet. Alex Wright’s book Cataloguing the World: Paul Otlet and the birth of the information age is a wonderful telling of the story of humankind’s longstanding and continued effort to collect and organize knowledge, and Otlet’s part in this.

Otlet’s prescient understanding of the varied nature of documents was coupled with his work on the UDC, Universal Decimal Classification. The process of describing documents now embraces digital as well as physical items. Cataloguing and classification codes used to describe physical entities laid the foundations for modern day metadata; data about data, which is used to described and index the digital world.

9780262528511Pomerantz J (2015). Metadata. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Jeffrey Pomerantz book Metadata describes the origins and types of metadata, how it is used, and why it exists.

 

 

Front cover image for the book Information and SocietyBuckland M (2017). Information and Society. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts

A short, informal account of our ever-increasing dependence on a complex multiplicity of messages, records, documents, and data.

 

All of the books listed above should be available from the smashing City University Library for anyone who is already registered. If you need more inspiration, please take a look at my LibraryThing catalogue, where you can see books tagged for the modules I teach, or for LIS related topics in general.

If you would like to know more about our courses at CityLIS, please take a look at this slideshow available from our data repository at City. CityLIS: MA/MSc Library Science and MSc Information Science.

If you need more information, or have questions, drop me a line. lyn@city.ac.uk

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In further praise of dissertations

Originally published on The Occasional Informationist blog, 27 April 2020

In a blog post of five years ago, I noted the academic quality and professional relevance of the dissertations produced by CityLIS Masters students, and the wide range of topics and approaches they include.

Since then we have developed a series of virtual collections of dissertations in particular subject areas: art and artists, history, science and healthcare, and theory and philosophy.

We encourage CityLIS students to make their dissertations more widely available in the Humanities Commons open access repository, where the CityLIS collection is rapidly growing.

Our recently submitted dissertations have been so varied in subject, as well as high in quality, that I thought it worth drawing attention to some of those which are available in Humanities Commons; if only as a rebuff to anyone who may thank that dissertations in the LIS area may be limited in scope and in imagination.

At the theoretical and conceptual end, we can pick out Alex Bell’s study of the ways in which colour can convey, and indeed can be, information, and Rachel Cummings analysis of the documentation of fashion. Rachel is taking a document theory approach to fashion further in her PhD research.

Information behaviour is always a popular topic for CityLIS dissertations, and a very nice example is Kelly Anyfantaki’s study of the ‘serious leisure’ information practices of book collectors.

Information history, another perennially popular topic is represented by Petar Nikolov’s analysis of the development of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping as an information reosurce, and by David Baker’s study of the context and significance of the reforms to the Royal Library at Windsor Castle under Prince Albert.

Being believers in the aphorism that there is nothing so practical as a good theory, we would always say that conceptual, philosophical, and historical dissertations have an important place in LIS education. But they are balanced by dissertations done in, or for, a work setting, or taking a case study approach, with immediate impact in practice, and several examples of these feature among recent CityLIS studies. They include Olu Alabi’s case study of a social prescription hub in a London public library, and Colette Townend’s analysis of the impact of Section 28 and Black History Month on public libraries. In an example of the immediate impact of dissertation research, Sarah Crompton’s research forms the basis for a subject guide to the music and song collection of the Marx Memorial Library.

We hope by encouraging to CityLIS students to submit their dissertations to Humanities Commons, and by publicising them through professional social media, their value to professional practice, as well as to the knowledge base of the discipline, may be maximised. And also we hope to encourage more students to join CityLIS, and contribute their own dissertations.

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Tackling Subject Headings

***CityLIS alumna Catherine Jenkins critically evaluates the impact of subject headings with reference to the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) controlled vocabulary. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission as part of our CityLIS Writes initiative.***

Tackling Subject Headings

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Good Neighbours: The Warburg Library Classification Scheme in its Context

***CityLIS alumna Anna Gialdini compares the classification scheme at the Warburg Institute with other Knowledge Classification Schemes to adumbrate how they affect people’s perception of the world.It is reproduced here with the author’s permission as part of our CityLIS Writes initiative.***

Good Neighbours. The Warburg Library Classification Scheme in its Context

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