Session Title

Fanfiction in Medieval Studies

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Anna Wilson

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Presider Name

Anna Wilson

Paper Title 1

Strange Attraction to Sacred Places: Reading Fannish Fantasies in a Copy of Mandevilles's Travels

Presenter 1 Name

Alison Harper

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Rochester

Paper Title 2

Choose Your Own Arthur: Canon and Agency in Choice of Games' Pendragon

Presenter 2 Name

Rebecca Slitt

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Choice of Games, LLC

Paper Title 3

Code-Switching Media: Vernacular Medievalisms and the Queer Lives of Mulan

Presenter 3 Name

Jonathan Hsy

Presenter 3 Affiliation

George Washington Univ.

Paper Title 4

Charlemagne Fanfiction and Collective Identity in Fourteenth-Century England

Presenter 4 Name

Elizabeth Williamsen

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Minnesota State Univ.-Mankato

Start Date

15-5-2016 10:30 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 1035

Description

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 Cresseid or 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.

Anna P. Wilson

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May 15th, 10:30 AM

Fanfiction in Medieval Studies

Fetzer 1035

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 Cresseid or 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.

Anna P. Wilson