FanLIS 2023 Speakers

Presenters confirmed for FanLIS: Halliday Journals and holodecks: audiences and information in sci-fi fandoms, online symposium hosted by CityLIS to be held on 18th May 2023. Speaker details are subject to change.


Programme Schedule


Karen Hellekson

Fandom, Fanzines, and Archiving Fannish History

This presentation provides a brief history of fandom and fanzines, focusing on zine culture crucial to the split between (written) SF and media fandom, and addressing archival holdings of sf and media zines.


Karen Hellekson is an independent scholar who has published on fandom and science fiction.

Twitter: @khellekson1

Alayna Vander Veer & Austin Waters

Infinite Archives, Infinite Possibilities: Learning Research and Databases with Archive of our Own

Our presentation discusses the importance of acknowledging the information practices of subcultural groups and capital within library instruction. Subcultural capital is cultural knowledge held by an individual that elevates their status within that subgroup (Thornton, 1995). Demonstrating our knowledge of fan works, we engage with students that either identify with or engage in the fandom subculture of fan fiction. By incorporating AO3 into library instruction, we leveraged cultural capital with students which allowed us to build rapport with them as members of the fan community. In this presentation we demonstrate the importance of cultural capital in education for community building and being acknowledged as a legitimate member of the community.

This presentation will entail a brief discussion on the similarities between AO3 and academic databases. It will be followed by an analysis of subcultural theory and how using familiar methods of information access can build bonds with students and encourage their learning. Finally, there will be an overview of the workshop with specific examples to showcase the learning outcomes for students. Time will be left at the end for questions and a discussion on practical applications for similar workshops.


Alayna L. Vander Veer is a reference and instruction librarian at the State University of New York at Oneonta. She earned her Master of Science in library and information science degree from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ithaca College. As a recent graduate and new academic librarian, Alayna dedicates her energy to fostering an inclusive space and supporting student education through authentic vulnerability. When Alayna isn’t playing superhero librarian, she is busy being a nerdy academic, thinking and writing about popular culture.

Austin Waters is the student services librarian at the University at Buffalo School of Law. She earned her Master of Science in library and information science degree from Syracuse University and her law degree from William H. Bowen School of law. Most of Austin’s research deals with fostering community among students and looking at ways to better prepare students to be successful in their careers. When she’s not busy running the law library’s social media accounts she is probably discussing fan theories about Star Wars.

Amber Sewell

The citational practices of sci-fi fan podcasts

Podcasts are important sites of knowledge sharing and co-creation. As opportunities to discuss niche interests, podcasts are where individuals come together to discuss the things they love, and for fans, podcasts are often opportunities to critically engage with their franchise or work with others in the fandom. The conversational nature of podcasting means each party can bring forth new ideas and perspectives that shape how we engage with the work and fandom that’s grown around it. This presentation will share the results of an exploratory study of the citational practices of science fiction fan podcasts. By looking at the transcripts of popular science fiction fan podcasts, the presenter will identify ways podcast hosts and guests make links between scholarship (both formal and informal) and sci-fi books, shows, movies, and more. These results will provide insight into the information behavior and practices of sci-fi fans, particularly how fans bring information from outside the fandom into their conversations about the works to better critically engage with the source material.


Amber Sewell is a Teaching & Learning Librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she works primarily with first and second year undergraduate students. She is interested in games and storytelling for instruction and how instructional design and creativity can create engaging and effective learning experiences. Creator and co-host of The LibParlor Podcast, she is also interested in podcasting as a means of making scholarship more widely available.

Twitter: @AmberSewel13

Nicole Neece

This sounds like an episode of The X-Files: Examining how Twitter users interpreted the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of sci-fi television

While science fiction has a long-standing habit of predicting future technologies, The X-Files’ focus on anatomical manipulations as a means of control resulted in a plotline that inadvertently mirrored the COVID-19 pandemic that occurred a few years later. The proximity to such a similar, real-world situation may invite audiences to perceive their own circumstances in a light they may not have otherwise, but even more so, emphasizes that the discursive environment crafted through the text of The X-Files continues to be applicable to contemporary anxieties and paranoia even after the show finished airing. In this project, I argue that The X-Files’ critiques of real-world abuses of powers and the running themes of paranoia have become an integral part of its post-series legacy, resulting in the series being used to both defend and reject COVID-19 protocols by sci-fi fans on Twitter. I utilize a thematic analysis of these tweets to examine how audiences are negotiating the implications of the show’s text and their lived experiences by utilizing the lens of science fiction to contextualize the pandemic.


Nicole Neece is a second year Ph.D. student in the Texts and Technology department at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on representations of sexual violence in fan fiction and television, the preservation of fandom archives, and examining the boundaries of disturbing media.

Twitter: @NicoleNeece

Alison Harding

i’m mixing comic book canon and mcu canon to suit my own needs: Information Sharing as Community Building in a Fandom in Flux

Entry to the fandom community as anything other than a lurker can seem out of reach for those new to very large fandoms. However, for the Marvel fandom the barriers to entry suddenly seemed to lower in the wake of the unprecedented expansion of the MCU – short-hand for the Marvel Cinematic Universe – to not only include their blockbuster movies, but also their new Disney+ shows. The broader MCU fandom was rebuilding itself on a near monthly basis as new content was released and new fans flocked to find fan communities. Particularly ripe for the creation of fanfiction were shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The show premiered in March of 2021 and allowed fans new and old to really explore the two titular characters. Sam Wilson and James “Bucky” Barnes were given their first chance to be leading characters after many years and several movies where both played side characters to Steve Rogers. While some of the larger aspects of the MCU and broader Marvel fandom can be more toxic and unwelcoming to those who have not been active since the beginning, this study shows that the smaller FatWS fandom community on AO3 is welcoming of newcomers, highly tolerant, and supportive. This presentation will explore the results of a digital ethnography and autoethnography of the FatWS fandom tag on AO3 using direct observational methods.  The goal was to explore the way a fandom community builds itself through information sharing, therefore all aspects of information sharing via AO3 works were observed. These included titles, author usernames, all tag formats, summaries, all authors note formats, and comments.


Alison Harding is a second year Ph.D student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park where her research explores the (re)formation and exploration of queer identity in rural spaces, particularly among youth. She is interested in documenting and sharing the information practices of rural teens through ethnographic study, using the exploration of their information practices to interrogate the narrative of metropolitanization and development in rural communities in the United States. Further, the work will look at how the dominant heteronormative, metropolitan identity is being socially reproduced in non-metropolitan spaces, with an eye towards the way the capitalist underpinnings of this narrative impacts rural spaces. In addition to her own research, she is a member of the cross-departmental Marylanders Online team, a collaborative effort between the iSchool and the Maryland Extension Program/AGNR, that was formed through a state grant with the charge of improving digital skills for wider broadband adoption in the state of Maryland. She also dabbles in research into fandom community identity creation through non-social platforms like Archive of Our Own.

Twitter: @alison_harding_

Tom Ue & James Munday

Repositories of Knowledge in Ernest Cline’s and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One

Midway through Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One (novel, 2011; film, 2018), the central protagonist Wade (Tye Sheridan) returns to the virtual universe of the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (OASIS) to consult “Halliday’s Journals.” James Halliday is the OASIS’ co-creator, and when he died, he left behind a quest, the prizes of which are his stock in Gregarious Games and control over the OASIS, collectively worth tens of billions of dollars. Ever since, gamers have been vying to complete this quest. Halliday’s Journals appeared in the OASIS when the contest was announced. Instead of one or more notebooks, however, the Journals take the form of a glass building in the film. Spielberg may have been inspired by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, at Yale University, but what separates the two buildings is the transparent windows of Halliday’s Journals. If the Beinecke’s translucent windows protect the collections from the damage occasioned by sunlight, then the fictitious one has no such forebodings. Everything in the OASIS is but lines of code. The shiny windows of Halliday’s Journals emit the OASIS’ artificial sunlight, and the building is as inviting as the flashing neon lights suggest. Our arguments, in this presentation, are that Cline and Spielberg offer particular insights into the archive and that, by looking at their depictions of Halliday’s Journals, we can deepen our understanding of the roles of libraries and bodies of knowledge in science fiction.


Tom Ue is Co-Editor of Film International and Assistant Professor in Literature and Science at Dalhousie University. He is the author of Gissing, Shakespeare, and the Life of Writing (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming) and George Gissing (Liverpool University Press, forthcoming); and the editor of George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming). Ue has earned the prestigious Frederick Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2022 Dalhousie University President’s Research Excellence Award for Emerging Investigators. He is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Twitter: @GissingGeorge

James Munday reads Mathematical Physics at the University of Waterloo. While his academic studies rest in STEM, he has authored multiple articles on Ready Player One with Prof. Tom Ue; and they are presently co-writing The Worlds of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One for Routledge.

Ashley Lanni

Data lost, forbidden or controlled?: The archivists of Horizon Forbidden West

“Data lost, forbidden or controlled?: The archivists of Horizon Forbidden West” will discuss how the video game Horizon Forbidden West relays the importance of social responsibility when conducting archival work. Principally, the presentation will look at how selective conservation and educational efforts conducted by the game’s “archivists” either counter or reinforce the social systems they are a part of, demonstrating how science fiction can shed a light on our present by looking at how its remnants are handled in the future.


Ashley Lanni is just starting a joint masters degree in Museum Studies and Archiving. Her previous History degree focused on exploring how the Soviet Union’s exported it’s ideals and cultures to a foreign audience, specifically at World Fairs. Beyond the world of archives and academia, she is passionate about video games, social justice and short stories, and is in the middle of creating a zine exploring fandoms and queer identity.

Mackenzie Streissguth

The Library Wants to Kill You: Places of Information as Battleground and Sanctum in Halo

Seeking information is a key narrative move for single-player video games, mirroring real-world information-seeking behaviors to direct ludic navigation — the library is an easy analogue for sci-fi games to capitalize on with relative ease. Shifting the intended mission for a player character through dynamic level design is fairly commonplace in modern video games. However, in converting a library from a safe haven of wisdom into an active threat in the game space, players begin to question the sanctity of the very information they have — and the existence of sanctuary at all. While there are antagonist librarians in many games, in Halo: Combat Evolved, it is the library, its inhabitants, and the contents that threaten the player. Later installments of the game transform this initial violent interaction with the informational space into, essentially, a holy one. I investigate how the initial act of betrayal by the library and its knowledge in Halo is used narratively when juxtaposed with the deification of the same knowledge later in the series — especially when engaging with fans of a series released on two separate consoles, over a decade apart, with two very different generations of gamers introduced to these two alternative perspectives.


Mackenzie Streissguth is an adjunct professor of English. Her research ranges from genre theory in composition to ludonarrative and speculative fiction. Her recent work combined fan studies and narrative theory in The Fast & The Furious franchise for Post45 Contemporaries. Currently, she is researching the impact of player investment in character lore on avatar selection in hero-shooter video games.

Twitter: @graphitecurator

Print Friendly, PDF & Email