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Het Shippers Cage Match

I got this from wendelah1. I've modified the text slightly, but the bulk of it is unashamedly pinched from her.

It's the last round of the Cage Match at the het_reccers community. Having narrowly squeaked past Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in the fourth round, Mulder and Scully have found themselves facing the most popular het ship from the megafandom of the moment The Avengers, Natasha Romanoff/Clint Barton. They're currently in the lead, but but not by a large margin.

I'm not here to bash another fandom's ship. I'm sure both characters have a lot to recommend them. Superheros are superheros for a reason, after all. But Mulder and Scully have taken on their share of enemies, too. The X-Files fandom back in the day invented the term "shipping." Whether people are aware of it or not, this was the mothership of internet fandom.

The X-Files was at one time a huge worldwide fandom. I believe we still have a large, if diminished presence here on LiveJournal. If even a tenth of this community goes over to the Cage Match and casts their votes for Mulder and Scully, they can still win this thing as I believe they deserve to do. While you are there, if you have any het ships, you might like to check out the place. It's a fun, active LJ community.</div>

Trick or Treat?

It's October again and nearly time for Halloween. Who's up for posting some deliciously terrifying treats to spookyhalloween this year? Some scary songs, maybe? How about one or two frightening fics? Or maybe even a petrifying picspam? Whatever you feel like posting, however big or small, we'd love to see it. Remember, as long as it's the 31st of October where you are you can post all you like.

I also got this from maidenjedi:

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

An eerie, Hallowenish &/or generally autumnal comment ficathon.

It looks pretty cool so I might give it a go.

On a related note, would anyone be interested in an original fic Halloween/autumn comment fic thread?

Harry Potter Canon

Today I listened to lesson 10 on the MuggleNet Academia podcast, which questioned what constitutes Harry Potter canon. While the podcast was interesting, there was much that I disagreed with and so there are two areas I want to address in this post; firstly, the debate surrounding Harry Potter canon; and secondly the way in which literature and film (and literary studies scholars and fan studies scholars) were framed.

Regarding canon, then, I am more inclined to agree with the comments Keith made than with John Mark Reynolds. I don’t think that canon be defined as simply the seven books, particularly in the 21st century. I see two main reasons for this. Firstly, authors are more accessible to their readers than they were in, for example, Dickens’ time. Rowling has a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Pottermore, to say nothing of the many interviews she has done which are archived online, and the various Harry Potter/Rowling fansites out there which provide even more information on the author and her texts. It is thus far easier for a reader to get hold of information about an author or her books, and information that, in the 1800s would have never been available to the average reader, now affects the ways in which we view texts (consciously or not). Jonathan Gray calls this extra information paratexts and argues convincingly that both industry- and fan-created paratexts affect the ways in which the texts’ meanings are understood and, I would argue, in turn affect the canon. It also strikes me that Roland Barthes’ notion of the death of the author is one which would have sat well in this podcast. John Mark Reynolds suggested that as soon as a work is published it is no longer owned by the author; Barthes wrote “there is one place where this multiplicity is focussed and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed, without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. […] we know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.” I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the author is dead, however, particularly in the age of social media where it’s far easier to gain access to an author, their interviews and any extra material they produce (such as Pottermore, for example). In that respect I think that John Mark Reynolds’ argument is flawed.

Secondly, I think that while canon does not simply stop with the primary text, we (fans, readers, academics, whoever) are able to perhaps distinguish between the importance of different texts, and their canonical worth, the further from the prime sources they become. Will Brooker writes a very interesting argument about this in relation to Star Wars fandom. He notes that the Star Wars Encyclopaedia considers canon to be the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition; coming a close second are the authorized adaptations of the films: the novels, radio-dramas and comics. After that, “almost everything falls into a quasi-canon”. However, canon in the Star Wars universe as understood by fans is complicated by the inconsistencies between the films and the authorised texts, and by the original trilogy and the special editions. Brooker argues that many early scenes were shot and then discarded; they are thus out of canon and officially deemed not to have happened. However, in 1997 the primary texts were altered to include other scenes which had never previously been featured. The special editions thus “brought key encounters out of limbo and into continuity, altering the official definition of what really took place. As such, the canon as defined by the primary texts is fluid”. There are some parrallels to Harry Potter in this – are the games considered canon, what about the school books, the trading cards, etc. etc.? They’re not questions which are easy to answer but I think it’s important they’re asked, not just written off because they’re not the first seven books.

I also thought it was interesting that neither ‘fanon’ nor ‘headcanon’ were really discussed, especially as fanfic was mentioned a lot. Headcanon, as the name suggets, is what one person believes about a text, when that view is supported neither by the canon or the wider fandom. Fanon, is when something is believed by the larger fandom, but is not supported by the text. A popular idea is that the individual ‘what ifs’ of fan fiction contribute to a larger meta-text, which derives from, but is not the same as, the canon. Henry Jenkins (whose work on fan culture really should be read) notes that “[f]an writing builds upon the interpretive practices of the fan community, taking the collective meta-text as the base from which to generate a wide range of media-related stories” and this ‘meta-text’ is often referred to as ‘fanon.’ I know that The X-Files (my primary fandom) has a lot of fanon – the idea that Mulder is an insomniac and Scully uses strawberry-scented shampoo are two of the most common. When things like this are continually reinvented, or written so persuasively by a few fanfic writers, they take on the status of fan-produced canon and are recognised as such by fans. Of course, not all of these ‘what ifs’ are given equal weight by fanfic readers; those which adhere to canon in writing characters which the reader will recognise are considered of high value, as are those which diverge from canon yet offer something new or unique. Fanon also fundamentally does not equal canon unless, as Will Brooker (2002) notes, it is endorsed as such. I would suggest that fanon nevertheless plays an important role in the struggle for power between fans and producers, though, and would certainly be interesting to examine in relation to Harry Potter.

This brings me neatly onto the second thing I wanted to comment on. I appreciate that John Mark Reynolds, Alicia Costello and John Granger all come from a literary studies tradition, but the way in which literature was framed as high culture and film (and fandom) framed as low culture frustrated me. One of the main reasons is that, as a fan studies scholar, writing my PhD on X-Files fanfiction, I’ve become used to my field of research being denigrated by other schools of thought. It’s not worth studying popular culture because it doesn’t teach us anything is a prime example of the types of comments my field gets. I presented a paper on Pottermore at a Harry Potter conference in Ireland a couple of months ago, and we were featured on the Irish national news as well as several newspapers, all apparently amazed that academics would spend time discussing a book about a school of magic. As fans of Harry Potter, as well as Harry Potter academics, we all have experience of people looking down at us, so it was frustrating to find a similar distinction being made by fans themselves, on a podcast made by one of the largest Harry Potter fansites.

There are two specific points relating to this that I want to address. Firstly was the comment that people study Dickens, not Dickensia. Translated into modern terms, this reads as people will study Harry Potter, not fans of Harry Potter. This not only draws on high/low culture arguments to further the divide between studying literature and cultural studies, but negates the impact that Harry Potter fandom has had in the wider world. Of course, ‘real world’ benefits are not the only mark of a fandom’s worth, but the work of the Harry Potter Alliance, the charity-fundrasing of Wrock bands, the role of Harry Potter in improving literacy all stem from the fandom, not simply the study of the books themselves. Harry Potter fandom is one of the most active around. Henry Jenkins has written many articles and blog posts about the fandom and to suggest that however many years down the line all of this will be forgotten is, I think, short-sighted. The second comment was how fans of the Harry Potter films aren’t ‘true’ fans. This, again, is something I have broached in my thesis, and draws on various taste distinctions as well as the idea of subcultural capital. Bourdieu coined the idea of ‘cultural capital’ to refer to non-financial social assets that promote social mobility beyond economic means. This was developed by Sarah Thornton into subcultural capital, which refers to the cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from members of other groups. Thus, fans of the Harry Potter books see themselves as having more subcultural capital than fans of the films and are therefore ‘true’ fans. While interesting from an academic point of view, I think this creates a false binary and causes further divisions within fandom which don’t really need to be there.

I should add, however, that despite the issues I had with the podcast this week, I have really enjoyed listening to them and thinking about the ideas developed within them. Healthy debates are necessary when we undertake any sort of study, but I think they’re even more important when we engage with texts that we love. I know that at least some of the points raised in these podcasts will make it into my thesis, and I look forward to listening to many more.

The Girl Who Waited

Can anyone rec me some fic based on The Girl Who Waited? Thanks in advance!


Journal Paper Published

So, I had my first paper published in the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures. It's the one I wrote on fan activism, and in which I conducted two case studies on X Files fans. The abstract is: I explore the ways in which celebrity charity and fan activism can lead to civic engagement and social change. Fan studies has moved away from the traditional view of fans as psychologically deficient and has begun to examine resistance within the cultural productions of fandom—fan fiction, for example, addressing gender imbalances in popular TV shows. However, scholarship on celebrity-focused fans still retains much of the stigmatizing language that mars early writing about fans. I examine the relationship between celebrity and fan; examine the role celebrity plays in framing fan charity; assess how fan investment affects celebrity charity work; and argue that fans are active participants in encouraging social awareness and charitable giving. And the link is: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/309/275

Fan Studies Network

Just a heads up for anyone on my flist who may be interested, I'm now part of a team running a Fan Studies Network. I'm copying the guest post the founders posted to the Symposium Blog</a> for info.

Guest post by Tom Phillips and Lucy Bennett

As young researchers, we are frequently told to place an emphasis on networking. It is certainly true that making connections with others can help boost your career, whether in terms of finding a co-author for a research project, or simply knowing someone at an institution that will let you know of any vacancies.

In addition to the more traditional mode of meeting others at conferences, networking websites such as Academia.edu have also proved useful, giving an overview of scholars’ academic profiles.

However, what we felt was lacking in terms of having a relatively informal space in which to bounce around ideas. The “traditional” mailing lists are useful in terms of disseminating information, but creating a dialogue via these formats is often not welcomed – mailboxes can become full of conversations about subject matters considered irrelevant by some.

In creating the Fan Studies Network, we wanted to cultivate a space in which scholars of fandom could easily find others with the same research interests, and could also converse in a non-judgemental way. To this end, we are encouraging all those who sign up to the mailing list to introduce themselves and their research. This should have the effect of allowing a sense of community – all other subscribers know that only interested parties will be seeing their messages. It also allows people to talk about their research, and in the process hopefully make new contacts.

We welcome scholars to join the network by signing up to our Jiscmail mailing list: FanStudies@jiscmail.ac.uk. You can also visit our website, which features CFPs and events of interest at
http://fanstudies.wordpress.com, and our Twitter account @FanStudies.

With the assistance of the team members who help us run FSN – Bethan Jones (Cardiff University), Richard McCulloch (UEA), and Rebecca Williams (University of Glamorgan) – we aim to host an event within the next year.

As a project in its infancy, we would welcome any feedback or suggestions from blog readers.

No Rest for the Wicked

So, apparently the essay I wrote for last year's xf_is_love, "I do not gaze at Scully" The Rain King: The X Files' Response to Laura Mulvey, has been nominated for the best essay/meta category at No Rest for the Wicked. That was a pleasant message to wake up to this Sunday morning! Funnily enough, I've been reading a few of the fandom snowflake challenge posts that have been popping up on my flist, and thinking about whether a) I should do it too and b)whether I'd signpost people to my meta rather than my fic. I've got a few fics I think have been read less than I'd have liked, by I really like the meta that I've written. What a strange coincidence.
Title: Five Times Bill Mulder Never Told His Son He Loved Him
Author: memories_child
Spoilers: Pre-series but references to various eps throughout S1-9.
Rating: PG Word count: 2,644
Disclaimer: The X Files, unfortunately, does not belong to me. Much as I’d love to say I came up with the idea.
Author's Notes: This was written for littlegreen42, for the 2011 xf_santa gift exchange. Merry Christmas, and happy start of the year the world ends! You asked for fic that explores Mulder's complicated relationship with his father, but which doesn't portray Mulder's dad as a horrific child abuser. I really hope I’ve managed to do that here. It’s my own (potted) version of what happened before Mulder joined the FBI and discovered the X Files. One day I’ll write the whole thing. Many thanks to amalnahurriyeh for the beta. All remaining mistakes (especially on sections iii and iv) are my own.

There are stars beginning to pinprick the sky when they finally come inside.Collapse )

Merry Christmas

Happy Hannukah, merry Yule or just happy December 25th. Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a lovely day.


Title: Three times Mulder went trick or treating and one time he didn't
Author: memories_child
Spoilers: Little Green Men, Fire, Unusual Suspects, The End
Warnings: None
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: As much as I’ve begged CC and co. The X Files still doesn’t belong to me.
Author's Notes: This was written for the 2011 spookyhalloween. Take everything relating to Oxford with a pinch of salt - I'm writing this far too late at night to do any proper research.

He tells her the story of the little girl who went missing from their house a hundred years ago, and whose ghost can still be seen every Halloween leaving the house in her fancy dress costume.Collapse )

On Anti-Fans

A few people said they wanted to hear more about anti-fans after one of the last posts I made so I thought I'd copy and paste that section from my lit review. I did refer to anti-Fowley fans elsewhere in lit review but I haven't copied that here (I can if anyone wants to see them). Hopefully what I've got here will make sense (though further changes will be made to it after the last meeting with my supervisor) and you'll find it interesting.

Fans, anti-fans and non-fansCollapse )
I've had a really productive couple of weeks research-wise. I sent the second draft of my lit review section on encoding/decoding off to my supervisor last week (and got a reply today asking if I'm free to meet Thursday). It's now up to 18,000 words and I'm pretty happy with it. It's a lot better than the first draft and I think I've got some things in there that could be really useful for my work. One of the things I was looking at while reading was anti-fans, and I posted a poll to xfiles asking people about their opinions of fic by people who haven't seen all of the series. What I've argued in the lit review is that what I think Jonathan Gray leaves out in his work on anti-fans is the fans who are anti-fans of a specific aspect of a series - the Fowley anti-fans, or end-of-series anti-fans, for example. They have in-depth knowledge of the series, write fic, engage with fan communities, but dislike (or even hate) specific things about the series. I think they are different to the anti-fans Gray talks about, and I think they're really interesting in terms of studying what fans can tell us about the series they watch. I'm still formulating some of my ideas on this, but I think it could be an interesting area, especially when it relates to fans who write post The Truth or post series (or post S7) fic when they haven't seen S8 and 9. (If anyone's interested I can go into more detail on what Gray says about anti-fans.)

I've also been thinking about The Big Bang Theory. I've recently, as I mentioned before, started watching it and am actually enjoying it. But there are some things I find very problematic. cut for spoilersCollapse )

Icon Maker

I've asked over at xf_icons but thought I'd ask you guys too. Does anyone know who made these two icons:

(the filename I have is 13769011.gif)


(the filename I have is 6910072.gif)

When I first saved them I didn't make a note of the artist's name (I do now) so if anyone could help I'd be grateful.

Women of The X Files

LJ seems to have come back to life again the last few days, which has made me happy (although I haven't commented on as many posts as I should have). It made me realise how much I miss LJ when I'm not posting here, and that I'm going to make more of an effort to reply when I read posts on my phone.

And now, instead of ranting about the day I had yesterday, I'm going to promote two awesome communities/posts/things. The first is womenlovefest which is all about spreading the love to female characters that we feel don't get enough of it in fandom.

Banner by tiferet

I've posted to the Diana Fowley thread so far, and those have been links to old things I've written because I don't have time to write anything new. But I'm hoping to get something new written by the end of the fest. There are loads of female characters from a variety of fandoms, so I'm sure everyone could find someone to write about if they wanted to. *hint hint*

The second is The First Ever Haremxf Comment Ficathon. wendelah1 has created the thread and put up a load of prompts, and I'm off to add some more (and hopefully write one or two as well). I think it'd be awesome to show some love to the female X Files characters who get forgotten or put down for whatever reason, and the more people to join in the merrier.
I was supposed to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two with a friend on Wednesday, but I couldn't wait so decided to see it on my own last night. And I talk about it under the cut.Collapse )

Torchwood: Miracle Day


More under the cutCollapse )

In other news, this is what I'll be wearing to my graduation next week:

I'm possibly more excited about that than the graduation itself.

And thanks everyone for hugs and replies to my last post. I'm still (weirdly) upset by the whole thing, especially not being able to go away, but on the plus side that will hopefully mean I can spend a bit longer with so_vieh in London. My mother's also been fine with me since (I don't think she realised how much I was upset) so that's a good thing.
Title: "I do not gaze at Scully" The Rain King: The X Files' Response to Laura Mulvey
Author: memories_child
Word count: 2859
A/N: Written for the 2011 round of xf_is_love. I'm writing this much later than I'd have liked to, mainly because I forgot I was posting today until yesterday, and so it's therefore shorter than I'd like it to be. There's a lot more I could say about the male gaze and The X Files, but if you take a look at the bibliography you'll find some of the articles out there covering this in more depth than I am in this essay.

Is Mulder’s comment to Holman in Rain King a serious reference to Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze? Were the writers planting an in joke that only students of pop culture would get? And if so, does their response to Mulvey hold up?

Fan Charity Paper Revised

I finally got round to revising the paper I talked about here today. I don't know how good the revisions are - I've looked at this so much that I have no idea if it makes sense! But at least it's done and with just over a week to go before it needs to be resubmitted. I've sent it to a couple of friends so I'm hoping they can take a look for me and tell me what they think. That way I can make any further changes that are necessary before I send it back off.

Then I've just got to redraft my lit review and turn a conference paper into a book chapter and maybe I can relax for a bit!

Dr Who

Has anybody seen it?? I need someone to flail with.

ETA obvious note: spoilers in comments.


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