FanLIS 2021 Speakers

Speakers confirmed for FanLIS: Building Bridges, to be held on 20th May 2021, at City, University of London, are shown below in alphabetical order by surname.  The Programme Schedule is now available.

Please note that the following details are subject to change.

Aris Emmanouloudis

Twitch (Still) Plays Pokémon: When Spectators Become Archivists

In 2014, an anonymous user changed the way game streaming worked. Through the channel of ‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’ on Twitch, the viewers were able to control and play the classic Pokémon Red game in real time, by sending inputs through the comments section, in what was hailed as a ‘social experiment’. Soon enough, apart from just focusing on finishing the game, the fans had developed communities, which sprouted artefacts such as memes and fanfiction, and even a joke religion. In addition, multiple fans, without any prompt from the stream’s management, started documenting the stream’s history and records.

At the moment, the stream’s participation has declined, although there still remains a niche audience bent on maintaining the community and its ideals. More remarkable is the fact that despite significant changes to the scope and orientation of the community, those archives of the past fame are still talked about and respected by its members. Moreover, during the lockdown period of 2020, an initiative to revisit the stream’s past days took place, sparking the interest about it again.

I examine how this case transcends the regular case of user-generated fan art, and becomes one of the first examples of pure fan-generated narrative. In this presentation, I also reflect on its current status of declined popularity and the tools used by the remaining members to keep the community alive, often through references to archived material.

Aris Emmanouloudis is a PhD candidate on Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Having finished his MA degree on Media Studies, he began his research on tactics of resistance in on-line cultures of video game fandom. He has also worked as a teaching assistant for a course on games and game studies, and has been curating and organising lectures on various issues around video games and popular culture.

Twitter: @ArgyEmm

Senan Kiryakos & Magnus Pfeffer

Japanese Visual Media Graph: Providing researchers with data from enthusiast communities

Though there is an increasing interest by researchers from various domains in studying many aspects of Japanese popular culture, their efforts are often met with challenges due to the scale and complexity of content being produced. Additionally, mediums in this domain like anime, manga, and video games, have been largely ignored by memory institutions, such as libraries and archives, that traditionally create descriptive bibliographic data. This has resulted in a level of description of these resources which is often inadequate for both researchers and fans alike.
These factors have led to the development of numerous enthusiast communities on the web, which create and curate their own online databases, and do so according to their own unique interests, needs, and regional contexts. These fansites have diverse focuses, such as Japanese visual media generally, single mediums such as anime or visual novels, and individual franchises. In doing so, these fans often and unknowingly solve problems similar to those faced by researchers, such as recording a large amount of very granular data for the content of Japanese visual media, establishing and describing connections between related resources, and creating semi-formal data structures and vocabularies for descriptions.

The Japanese Visual Media Graph (JVMG) project, funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), seeks to address the needs of researchers by utilizing both the experiences of and
content produced by these various communities. In doing so, the goal of the JVMG is to develop a queryable database, primarily aimed at academic researchers interested in Japanese visual media, with data sourced and aggregated from several online fan communities.

Central to the achievement of this goal is a data harvesting and modeling workflow that involves creating distinct class structures and vocabularies for each community, enabling the querying of individual datasets. As these ontologies must represent the data as it exists on each fansite, a thorough understanding of each dataset is required, which involves discussions with community representatives, as well as our own analysis of the data. This has resulted in a deeper insight into the unique descriptive characteristics of each dataset, e.g. what aspect of a creative work is being described, how connections between related objects are made and represented, and the level of data granularity. Because we also wish to establish connections between related resources present in the community data and enable the querying of a unified dataset, we also create a unified ontology. Using the knowledge gained from studying each community, this unified ontology is being created in a way that accurately represents the way fan communities view and understand data surrounding Japanese visual media, while also being additive and extensible enough to enable researchers to explore the data in ways that facilitate their needs.

Our presentation will focus primarily on the knowledge obtained from the analysis of the community data. We will discuss the different community providers, the data they provide, and their differences and similarities. We will also illustrate how this knowledge has informed the ontology creation for each dataset, as well as our own unified ontology. In doing so, we hope to show the strengths and diversity in community created content, and why and how this content can be of use to a variety of researchers interested in Japanese visual media.

Senan Kiryakos completed his masters in Library and Information Studies, and doctoral degree in Informatics from Tsukuba University. He is a project member in the Japanese Visual Media Graph project, Institute for Applied Artificial Intelligence, Stuttgart Media University. His research focus is metadata, knowledge organization, and ontologies, primarily for works of popular culture.

Magnus Pfeffer is a professor for information management at Stuttgart Media University, Germany. His research interests include linked data, metadata integration, information retrieval in heterogeneous datasets and machine learning.

Alice M. Kelly

Affect and Author-Gods: Digital Archives, Queer Pleasures and Fannish Feeling in Literary Scholarship

In this paper, I will reflect on how fan studies has shaped my approach to literary scholarship and provided me with the vocabulary for queering the digital archive. From anti-canonicity to embodiment, theories about how transformative fan works circulate in digital archives like the Archive of Our Own (AO3) have redefined my own thinking about traditional literary scholarship and digital humanities in profound ways. Queer readings of homoerotic subtext are an expected component of fannish responses to media texts, regardless of that media property’s sexual economy, canon relationships or the identification of its characters. Fannish literacies and the critical lexicon of fan studies has thus been shaped how I engage with Conrad First, the digital periodical archive which houses the magazines and newspapers in which Conrad’s work was first published. Though the female characters to which I was drawn have never been read as lesbian in Conrad scholarship, the methodologies – of interpretation, investment, and imagination – that fanfiction as a cultural practice inspires allowed me to conceptualise queering these archival bodies. I propose to bring together the renumerated, canonical literature that occupied my PhD and the transformative fan-authored works I have been focusing on more recently, to provide a personal account of how fan studies as a discipline has revitalized the instincts and methods of my own previous research. I anticipate this presentation to be an exploration of how certain scholarly discourses can illuminate the networks of power, status and capital that stratify and signify authorship.

Alice M. Kelly is a literary and media scholar focusing on femslash fanfiction and its connection to queer cultural memory. She held a digital scholarship postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities 2019-2020, where she worked on the project ‘Winking Back: Femslash Fanfiction as Literature of Queer Survival in the Digital Age’. Her first book, Decolonising the Conrad Canon, is based on the doctoral thesis she completed at the University of Edinburgh in 2018, on Joseph Conrad’s female characters and the colonial literary canon, and is under contract with Liverpool University Press.

Twitter: @Alice_M_Kelly

Jasmine Kershaw

The Animated Princess as Cultural Icon: a Royal Legacy from the Disney Corporation

The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest corporations in the world, pulling in over $69 billion in revenue during 2019 alone. Disney now owns intellectual property spanning from childhood favourites like Winnie the Pooh to the decidedly unwholesome Fight Club, along with the Marvel and Star Wars juggernauts. But the most enduring legacy of Disney could be the group of animated characters who make up the Disney Princess pantheon.

The evolution of the Disney Princess holds up a mirror to the developing views of women’s place in the world over the course of the 20th and into the 21st century. This paper will give a brief overview of the Princesses’ place at the heart of Disney’s corporate identity; we will explore how the relatively passive damsel-in-distress Princesses of Disney’s early output became increasingly outdated during the second half of the 20th century, and how the rise of ideological feminism has influenced the characterisation of contemporary Princesses. How have Disneyphiles’ views of (and interactions with) the Disney Princesses changed over time? And do these changes reflect back at Disney, causing the corporation to alter their own, official portrayals of the classic Princesses more than 80 years after their creation?

Jasmine is a bit of a Disney freak: if you asked her to re-enact Beauty and the Beast (1991) from beginning to end, she could… please ask her! Jasmine brings a similar passion to all of her interests, and, as a current City, University of London MSc Library Science student, hopes that her career change from food entrepreneurship to the world of information will be a successful one.

Twitter: @notprincessjaz

J. Nicole Miller

“I Know What I’m About”: Fanfiction and the Information-Seeking Behaviors of Young Adult Readers

Young people in fandom today have more platforms than ever to choose from when it comes to reading fanfiction. These platforms often differ in terms of how a user can search and browse for stories to read, and as such, young adult readers may have to develop higher-than-average search literacy skills in order to find fanfiction that they are interested in reading. By investigating the information-seeking behaviors that young people exhibit when searching and browsing in fanfiction communities, we can potentially leverage these behaviors to help young people develop search literacy, including the development of tools to help young adults improve their search literacy skills. This presentation will share findings discovered from semi-structured interviews with young adult readers reflecting on their search experiences in fandom communities and other platforms, and the various search methods they used to find both fiction and fanfiction to read. The presenter will make recommendations on ways search literacy instruction for young adults can be enhanced based on the findings of this study.

J. Nicole Miller (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in the Information Studies program at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, where she first became aware of fan studies as a field of research and its overlap with library and information science. Her areas of interest are teens, media, and fan studies. Her current work examines the information-seeking behaviors of young adults in fandom.

Twitter: @jnmillerLIS

Colin Porlezza

Filling the Gap: An Exploration into the Theories and Methods Used in Fan Studies

Interdisciplinarity involves the interaction, combination and integration of theories, concepts and methods across different disciplines – and fan studies are commonly seen as an interdisciplinary field of research. This contribution wants to shed light on the question of interdisciplinarity by investigating contemporary notions of theory and methods used in discipline-related scholarly journals. Particularly with regard to the methods used in research, on the one hand there is a lack of a “distinct” body of methodological approaches, while on the other hand there is a wide variety of methods that include quantitative, qualitative, archival, legal, textual, and community-centered methods with more or less rigor – which poses a challenge when it comes to questions of compatibility and interdisciplinarity. To fill this gap, the contribution looks at two of the most internationally acknowledged journals dedicated to fan studies – Transformative Works and Culture and the Journal of Fandom Studies – and presents the findings of a metadata analysis of the article keywords as well as of a content analysis of 50 randomly selected abstracts in order to investigate the dominant theoretical approaches and methods used in the published articles.

Dr Colin Porlezza is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Journalism with City, University of London and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Media and Journalism at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. His research focuses mostly on the hybridization and datafication of digital journalism as well as media accountability and ethics. He has also been looking specifically into the interrelations between journalism and fan studies. He is currently a Board member of the Swiss Association of Communications and Media Research.

Twitter: @herdingbehavior


Paul A. Thomas

How Adventure Time Fans Understand the ‘True’ Producer: A Close Analysis of Two Encyclopedic Fan Texts

Ever since the show’s debut in 2010, fans of the Cartoon Network (CN) animated series Adventure Time—following the fantastical exploits of “Finn the Human” and “Jake the Dog”— have produced myriad fanworks, of which one category is the encyclopedic fan texts. These works document (rather than expand upon) the source material, and for Adventure Time fans, the two main “archives” for these texts are Wikipedia and the Adventure Time Wiki. While different, these sites both encourage editors to document the series in a way that directly aligns with how the show’s producers understand it. This was long a laborious but nonetheless straightforward task for Adventure Time fan editors, given that the show’s production crew and CN itself were usually on the same page regarding how they understood their series. But then in 2017, CN began re-arranging the show’s seasons in a way that conflicted with the understanding of the show’s production crew, and confusion followed.

To better understand this issue, let us briefly comment on the show’s production schedule. CN had initially ordered nine seasons from the production crew. However, when CN released the seventh season on DVD in 2017, the network began to reconfigure how the was divided, and when all was said and done, CN had reorganized Adventure Time into ten discrete seasons. This contrasted with the vision of the production crew, who had produced the series with the understanding that its episodes would be released across nine seasons. Fan editors were suddenly faced with a problem: Which delineation of the show should they follow? Some editors recognized CN’s new ten-season delineation as the “official” one, given that the network legally owned the series. Other editors argued that the original nine-season delineation was correct, because it reflected the true “vision” of the production crew. In the end, the former interpretation was considered by fan editors on both fansites to be the “correct” understanding of the show.

In this presentation, I will consider this online debate and its outcome through the lens of information studies. I will first employ Ludi Price’s 2018 model of fan information behavior to briefly describe how fan editors take a raw source text and convert it into an encyclopedic fan text. Then I will show that conflicts like this occur when editors recognize more than one official “producer,” and these conflicts end only when a majority of editors recognize a single, “true” producer. I contend that this final recognition is usually grounded in the epistemology of the fan archive(s) in question; in this case, for instance, both Wikipedia and the Adventure Time Wiki place an emphasis on “reliable [that is, ‘company-approved’] sources,” which lent epistemological support to the idea that Cartoon Network was the one “true” producer. In doing so, I aim to expand the Price model of fan information behavior by showing that the category of “producer” is more complex than many might initially assume.

Paul Thomas is a library specialist at the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS, USA) and a PhD student at Emporia State University (Emporia, KS, USA). He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology & Classics from the University of Kansas (2015), and a Master of Arts degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago (2016). His research focuses on the intersection of LIS, fandom studies, and Wikipedia research.

Twitter: @PaulThomas1992

Print Friendly, PDF & Email