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IDSEMUG 1978 - Television and Participatory Fan Culture

Recent studies of television viewing have moved from understanding the experience as a passive one to understanding it as more active and “participatory.” At the same time, the rise of social media, fan conventions and platforms, and new forms of distribution and dissemination have transformed various “fandoms” from marginal often-dismissed subcultures into a creative, influential and mainstream demographic. All of these factors have radically changed the relationship between creator, producer, text, and perceiver and have destabilized our ideas of the role and authority of the author or showrunner, the canonicity and ontology of the text, and the stability of narrative. In this course we will analyze how fans of television shows respond to and influence content, how they interact with and create content across various mediums, and their role in the promotion of programs. We will examine the interactions of fans to television shows and transmedia content from the early fandoms of the original Star Trek to the more recent multifaceted fandoms of Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, as well as debates over gender, race, fan labor, and politics. How do we distinguish between fan, critic, and scholar? How are fandoms integrated into individual and group identity? How does fan culture differentiate between “fanboys” and “fangirls”? What role does fan content—parody, fan fiction, fan art, fan games—play in regards to the original “canonical” content? Readings will include essays by Henry Jenkins, Jonathan Gray, Matthew Hills, Suzanne Scott, Mizuko Ito, and others, as well as essays, stories, and blogs by fans, fan/scholars, and critics. Class Notes: This 2-unit course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: Sept. 4; Last Class: Oct. 23.
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