Peter Gutierrez: The Importance Of Fandom

By | Monday, October 10, 2011 Leave a Comment
Peter Gutierrez of had an interesting, I think, string of Tweets tonight. His Twitter stream is peppered with responses to others, and the hashtags (primarily #engchat) he uses are also being well-used, so I thought I'd reproduce the salient ones here in chronological order...
The impetus to incorporate students' fan practices largely comes from NCTE's def on 21st literacies...

I'd been working in #fandom for a while but that helped crystallize things, esp combined w/ Henry Jenkins's work.

Here's that #NCTE position statement from 2008:

If you look at the bullet items of skills in NCTE's list, you'll see they correspond to what today's fans do...

...but perhaps not what our older notions of being a fan means.

I'd go so far as to say that there are "fan literacies"--the nice thing is that these map to all the literacies we already practice

Fans have a passion for texts -- and, maybe more importantly, a passion for sharing their take on those texts.

Fans also routinely apply sophisticated comprehension strategies -- making predictions & inferences, often across media.

Fans are traditionally thought 2b accepting of the fannish object -- but they're the harshest critics around!

That is, using students' fan texts and/or fan practices authentically -- to go "beyond engagement."

...because the idea is not to condescend to teach pop culture texts -- "this is the only way you'll get to the real lit"

Rather, the idea is to leverage skills and schema students don't usually articulate in school by invoking their fan practices.

Besides Kist & NCTE, I was also struck by Victor Watson’s seminal Reading Series Fiction (2000) -- really about fan-style reading

Parents often, look down at kids re-reading same texts endlessly. But there's great skills--deeper skills involved... curriculum we read things once. But kids who reread Harry Potter or Wimpy Kid many times, as fans, p/u on all sorts of things

...but we keep our own fannish excitement re authors, genres, titles, pop culture media to the side a lot. Like it's not dignified.

Victor Watson in that book on series fiction said that readers return 2 a series because it's like entering a "roomful of friends."

It's not "new" skills w/ fandom. It's about unearthing skills/prior knowledge kids already have but maybe weren't sure applied.

For example idea of "genre" itself is actually one where fans r *key.* Creators/authors need to fulfill expectations via tropes etc

Fans in a specific fandom will chart, and comment on, a publicly announced work 4 a year or more -- what a gr8 long-term project.
Of course, having written a book on fandom myself, none of this is really new for me. But it always excites me to see/hear when other people are talking about the subject. I feel a bit like when I was just a young comic book fan, and first started discovering there were other people in the world who liked the same comics I did.
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