Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Media Fandom
Academic Year
Semester 2
Successful completion of Part 1.
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 4 hour lecture/viewings
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 1 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word auto-ethnography:  Relate key theories and concepts to personal experience.  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay.  Compare and contrast one practice of material fandom with one aspect of digital fandom.  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word auto-ethnography:  Relate key theories and concepts to personal experience.  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay.  Compare and contrast one practice of material fandom wih one aspect of digital fandom.  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an awareness of the theoretical and analytical contexts for the study of media fandom through critical engagement with key writers/ traditions/ frameworks.

2. Critically apply key theories of media fandom to their own lived experience using the methodology of auto-ethnography.

3. Apply specific frames of reference to the analysis of media fandom in relation to both material and digital culture.

4. Explore and critically evaluate instances of commonality, tension and contradiction within and across different approaches to the study of media fandom.


This module builds on Part 1's introductions to media audiences by focusing specifically on the practices, cultures and contexts of media fandom. Students will be able to take these understandings forward into Part 3 dissertation work as well as into a range of other Film and TV/ Media and Communications modules which raise issues of audience activity, media convergence and user-generated content. The module addresses fandom's shared patterns of meaning - and common industrial and cultural factors - cutting across film, television and media and communications. Via its subject matter it therefore integrates these three subject fields whilst also identifying media-specific issues and field-specific theories of fandom.

Brief description

This module tackles issues raised by media audiences' cultural identities, distinctions and activities, focusing secifically on what has been termed "media fandom". Studying film and TV fandoms also means considering the industrial contexts which frame fan practices, as well as media-technological facilitations of fan culture. Fandom has been considered as an especially 'active' (and pathologised) audience, but it is also an increasingly mainstream and normalised part of today's media culture, and the module therefore considers how students might best theorise their own fan interests and activities. Introducing and critiquing key theories of media fandom, the module also contrasts 'material' and 'digital' fandom in order to interrogate celebratory accounts of online fan practices. Its overall aim is to encourage critical perspectives on academic framings of fandom, industry discourses targetting or co-opting fandom, and fans' own notions of 'authentic' or 'good' fandom, all of which involve problematic forms of cultural power and contestation.


The module will be divided ino four key sections, with each of these comprising of either 2 or 3 thematically-linked lecture topics. The module will be structured as follows:

1. Studying Fandom, Studying Ourselves...

Lecture 1: Essential Concepts - Introducing Fans, Scholar-fans and Anti-fans

Lecture 2: Essential Approaches - From Fan Ethnography to Auto-ethnography

These opening two lectues will introduce what it means to study fandom in the context of contemporary media culture, where students are highly likely to be fans of the type being analysed. They will also set out basic concepts and mehods which can be utilised by students in the first assessment point (fan auto-ethnography).

2. Key Theories of Media Fandom

Lecture 3: Poachers or Collectors? Media Fandom and Consumer Culture

Lecture 4: Being a 'True' Fan? Media Fandom and Cultural Distinction

Lecture 5: Personal Passions? Media Fandom and Psychoanalysis

These lectures cover major theories of media fandom (consumption-oriented/Bourdieuian/Winnicottian); students will be expected to apply these in their first assessment. The theories introduced here have typically been applied across film and TV fandoms, as well as in media and communications' work. This section of the module illustrates how different theories illuminate media fandom in very different ways - as consumerist or anti-commercial; as communal or individual; as culturally-shared or intensely personal.

3. Case Studies in Material Fandom

Lecture 6: Fan Tourism and Pilgrimage

Lecture 7: Fan Cosplay and Interpretation

Current work on fandom tends to emphasise its online presence and practices ( see the next section). But fandom's emotions and energies are often strongly linked to material culture: to "object practices" which centre on physical spaces/places, and on embodiment. This section provides a corrective to digital-only theories of fandom, focusing on how fans make use of geographical locations in practices of pilgrimage, and how costuming (cosplay) matters in media fandom.

4. Case Studies in Digital Fandom

Lecture 8: Web 2.0 and Fan Labour - Exploitation or Gift Economy?

Lecture 9: Fan Fiction Online - Affirmation or Transformation?

Lecture 10: Blogger, Twitter, Spoiler Alert - Fan-Producer Interaction or Regulation?

These lectures will consider contemporary digital fandom, and in particular how it has been celebrated both by some scholars and many cultural commentators. But if digital fandom allows more people to share their interpretations, express their creativity, and interact with media professionals (showrunners and actors), it also calls for critical study. Within digital fandom crucial matters remain, such as the industrial exploitation of fans' work, how fan fiction has been treated by copyright-holders, and the emerging info-war between fans and producers. In their second assignment, students will compare and contrast one practice linked to material fandom with one aspect of digital fandom, hence drawing on at least two lectures from Weeks 6-10.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Work on media fandom has been predominantly qualitative and there is little or no quantitative tradition.
Communication Students' written communication skills will be developed (e.g. appropriate language and style, accuracy, precision and ability to hit a specified word count). Opportunities will be given, through seminar discussion, for students to develop confidence in using their speaking and listening skills when communicating ideas. Students will develop oral presentation skills by articulating their ideas in seminars.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. Students will develop their critical thinking skills. Through group discussion students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary. Students will learn how to apply feedback to improve and progress from one assessment to the next.
Information Technology Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval sources both on the web and on AU LIS. Students will develop their skills when referencing from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to the task. E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information-sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged to actively engage with these.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate current knowledge and skills and set targets for self-improvement. Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning e.g. showing initiative and exploring/reading beyond the formal structure of the module. Students will be encouraged to build upon the knowledge gained from lectures through developing skills in self study (supported by the general and specific reading lists and other resources distributed throughout the module).
Problem solving Students should be able to identify tensions and debates in the field of fan studies, and will be encouraged to critically reflect on different theories. Students should be able to apply different approaches to understand patterns in research or cultural experience.
Research skills Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. Students will be given opportunities to develop note-taking skills. Students will be encouraged to evaluate, interpret and reflect upon a variety of sources.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Students will be given the oportunity to work in small groups in a number of seminar tasks.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Abercrombie, Nicholas and Longhurst, Brian (1998) Audiences Sage, London Primo search Booth, Paul (2010) Digital Fandom: New Media Studies Peter Lang, New York Primo search Duffett, Mark (2013) Understanding Fandom Continuum, London and New York Primo search Gray, Jonathan, Sandvoss, Cornel and Harrington, C. Lee (eds) (2007) Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediaed World New York University Press Primo search Harrigton, C. Lee and Bielby, Denise (1995) Soap Fans Temple University Press, Philadelphia Primo search Hellekson, Karen and Busse, Kristina (eds) (2006) Fan Fiction and fan Communities in the Age of the Internet McFarland, Jefferson Primo search Hills, Matt (2002) Fan Cultures Routledge, London and New York Primo search Hills, Matt (2010) Time Lord: Regenerating doctor Who in the Twenty-First Century I.B. Tauris, London and New York Primo search Jenkins, Henry (2012) Textual Poachers: Updated Twentieth Anniversary Edition Routledge, London and New York Primo search Larsen, Katherine and Zubernis, Lynn (eds) (2012) Fan Culture: Theory/Practice Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle Primo search Ross, Sharon Marie (2008) Beyond the Box: Television and the Internet Blackwell Primo search Sandvoss, Cornel (2005) Fans: The Mirror of Consumption Polity Press, Cambridge Primo search Schwabach, Aaron (2011) Fan Fiction and Copyright Ashgate, Farnham Primo search Stein, Louisa Ellen and Busse, Kristina (eds) (2012) Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom McFarland, Jefferson Primo search Zubernis, Lynn and Larsen, Katherine (2012) Fandom a the Crossroads Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle Primo search The Journal of Fandom Studies Intellect Primo search The Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures Available online at Confessions of an Aca Fan Henry Jenkins' blog, available online at http://henry


This module is at CQFW Level 5