Fan Studies—the formal study, often sociological, of fandom—is a robust field of study that formalized in the early ‘90s. That 30-year history can make it slightly intimidating for curious readers outside of academia, but reading on the topic has gotten more accessible over the years. The list below offers some notable books and more informal discussion as places to start, as well as a few anime fandom-specific essays. While books from university presses are often expensive, they can often be requested via local libraries!
Weekly podcast discussion on how to acknowledge the strengths and failing of a work.
Sometimes the people, places, and things we love don’t love us back. We’re fans, but we also have some ANTI- feelings toward them. Every week on FANTI, journalists Tre’vell Anderson and jarrett hill bring their pop culture and political expertise to things we must stan and stand up against.
Podcast on fandom as an analytical framework and interviews with notable figures in the field.
Fans have never been more visible in mainstream culture—but what does it really mean to be a fan, or to be part of a fandom? We dig into the conversations currently shaping fan culture, from intersections with the entertainment industry to depictions in the media to conflict within fandom itself. Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel talk to writers, academics, fan creators, people from the entertainment industry, and more, and new episodes come out every two weeks.
Blog of short-form essays on trends in fandom, particularly relating to harassment. Stitch also writes a regular column about fandom trends for Teen Vogue.
I speak for myself, but I’m backed up by two decades of life in online fandom and over a decade of watching fans defend and promote racism in queer/feminist fandom spaces. If you use can my words to help explain what you’re going through in fandom as a fan of color, I love that for you. I’m here for you. You aren’t alone and I will do my best to support you in these trying, super racist times.
Rukmini Pande’s book on race and racism in fan culture.
Pande’s study challenges dominant ideas of who fans are and how these complex transnational and cultural spaces function, expanding the scope of the field significantly. Along with interviewing thirty-nine fans from nine different countries about their fan practices, she also positions media fandom as a postcolonial cyberspace, enabling scholars to take a more inclusive view of fan identity. With analysis that spans from historical to contemporary, Pande builds a case for the ways in which non-white fans have always been present in such spaces, though consistently ignored.
Collected essays on the historical centering of whiteness in the field of fandom studies.
Fandom, Now in Color gathers together seemingly contradictory narratives that intersect at the (in)visibility of race/ism in fandom and fan studies. This collection engages the problem by undertaking the different tactics of decolonization—diversifying methodologies, destabilizing canons of “must-read” scholarship by engaging with multiple disciplines, making whiteness visible but not the default against which all other kinds of racialization must compete, and decentering white fans even in those fandoms where they are the assumed majority. These new narratives concern themselves with a broad swath of media, from cosplay and comics to tabletop roleplay and video games, and fandoms from Jane the Virgin to Japan’s K-pop scene. Fandom, Now in Color asserts that no one answer or approach can sufficiently come to grips with the shifting categories of race, racism, and racial identity.
Indie press focused on supporting underrepresented voices in fandom studies.
In April 2019, I was invited by Zina Hutton, Cait Coker, and Robin Reid to be part of a Roundtable on Race and Racism in Fandom and Fan Studies at the PCA/ACA 2019 conference held in Washington DC, USA. The intention was to discuss Fandom and Fan Studies 10 years after the events of RaceFail ’09 to see if things had changed and, if so, how. While I didn’t speak to the events of RaceFail ’09 itself, it did inflect my critique of institutional responses that followed in the wake of a more recent event.
What follows here is a rough estimate of the things I said at the conference, much of which was unscripted. I should note that these are my views alone and that I do not speak for Rukmini Pande, who was also involved in the series of events I plan to discuss.
2000s era essay on women doujinshi creators in Japan from translator Rachel Thorn.
This paper–based on field work, interviews, and library research–is fifteen years old, and if I were to revise it, there are some things I would tweak, but I think my central arguments stand up pretty well today. I hope you enjoy it.
Recent essay on the knock-on effect of misogyny in early online anime spaces.
This paper examines women-exclusionary discourses on the popular anime Usenet newsgroup, rec.arts.anime. By going back to pre-2000 online anime histories, this paper proposes to understand how women-exclusionary discursive practices on rec.arts.anime have contributed to shaping contemporary toxic technocultures’ discursive identities, as it is admitted that forum 4chan originated from online anime fandom. By using a data set of 252 messages related to gender issues posted from 1992 to 1996, I identify 7 discursive practices that I am theorizing here under the name of negative networking: 1. Blaming female anime fans for their lack of visibility; 2. Doubting the authentic interest of women in anime; 3. Mystifying the female anime fan; 4. Harassing female anime fans; 5. Criticizing the association of feminism with anime, both as interpretive practices and as scholarship; 6. Belittling female anime fans’ concerns; and 7. Denying or ignoring the challenges faced by female anime fans. I argue that the impact of these discourses must be understood as determinant in the establishment of the online anime hegemonic fan identity and its prediscourses, especially as they relate to the long-lasting marginalization of women and gender diverse anime fans.
Mid-2010s books of essays on BL reception and interpretation.
“Boys’ love,” a male-male homoerotic genre written primarily by women for women, enjoys global popularity and is one of the most rapidly growing publishing niches in the United States. It is found in manga, anime, novels, movies, electronic games, and fan-created fiction, artwork, and video. This collection of 14 essays addresses boys’ love as it has been received and modified by fans outside Japan as a commodity, controversy, and culture.
Book analyzing the history of women’s manga from a sociological framework.
This work is a book about the history, content, and functions of ladies’ comics, the most recent addition to the modern comics in Japan. This book employs the methodology of visual sociology which uses imagery as a source of data and material for analysis. It describes Japanese ladies’ comics’ unique history and explores how love and sexuality of Japanese women is depicted as a reflection of their everyday life.