Anything worth doing is worth studying too. Since dipping my toe into the culture of fandom and fanfiction, so many aspects of the experience of the experience have called for further consideration, direct investigation. It wasn’t long before I was reading articles and dusting off my data collection toolset to learn more about the how and why of these communities built on shared enthusiasm.
On the empirical side, I’ve worked with the results of online surveys (collected by myself and others) and fanwork archive data scraped using python scripts (example). More theoretical musing have focused on psychological mechanisms and cultural parallels with other common human behaviours.
Fandom and Sexuality Survey
The TPP Fandom and Sexuality Survey was designed to learn about fans experiences of sexual content in fanworks and the impacts of this content on their lives. Developed with other fans in the Three Patch Podcast, the survey was constructed to be broad, touching on many questions and ideas fans had about their own experiences, rather than focused. More on the survey and many results can be found on the Three Patch website. Slides from my talk at the 2017 Fan Studies Network conference, The extra(ordinary) sex lives of fanfiction readers, can be viewed or downloaded.
Fanwork Archive Analysis
How do fandoms grow? These creative communities are in constant flux but through whatever technologies are available, they still share and accumulate the products of their love of the source media and fellow fans. Fanwork databases are a goldmine of creative works and they are lovely things to scrape and explore in the comfort of one’s own machine. I have gathered metadata on many subcollections on these platforms have looked at some different pieces: the rates of new creators over time, the development of trope documentation through tags over time, the longevity of creator engagement, etc. More can be found on my tumblr.
Writing about Fandom
One example was produced for Powers of Expression magazine which connected a personal experience of fannish engagement with the psychological phenomenon of passionate love and the similar process of religious conversion. Here is a late edit of The Motivating Power of Fannish Love.