Fandom At The Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships
Fandom At The Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships is an in-depth exploration of the reciprocal relationship between a groundbreaking cult television show and its equally groundbreaking fandom. For the past six years the authors have inhabited the close-knit fan communities of the television show Supernatural, engaging in criticism and celebration, reading and writing fanfiction, and attending fan conventions. Their close relationships within the community allow an intimate behind-the-scenes examination of fan psychology, passion, motivation, and shame.
The authors also speak directly to the creative side in order to understand what fuels the passionate reciprocal relationship Supernatural has with its fans, and to interrogate the reality of fans’ fears and shame. As they go behind the scenes and onto the sets to talk with Supernatural’s showrunners, writers, and actors, the authors struggle to negotiate a hybrid identity as “aca-fans”. Fangirls one moment, “legitimate” researchers the next, the boundaries often blur. Their repeated breaking of the fan/creative side boundary is mirrored in Supernatural’s reputation for fourth wall breaking, which has attracted journalistic coverage everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to the New York Times. Written with humor and irreverence, Stalking Fandom combines an innovative theorizing of fandom and popular culture, which will be useful in a variety of courses, with a behind-the-scenes story that anyone who’s ever been a fan or wondered why others are fans will find fascinating.
Lynn Zubernis is a clinical psychologist and teaches in the Counselor Education program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Katherine Larsen teaches courses on fame, celebrity and fandom in the University Writing Program at George Washington University. She is the associate editor of the Journal of Fandom Studies.
Dr Zubernis and Dr Larsen are co-editors of the forthcoming Fan Culture: Theory and Practice. They have also published four articles in Supernatural Magazine.
"Fandom at the Crossroads is an excellent model for others conducting fandom ethnographies but is not limited to that audience. Instead, Zubernis and Larsen, with disciplinary homes (respectively) in clinical psychology and rhetoric, composition and popular culture, offer insight for anyone hoping to understand the quickly evolving worlds of the entertainment industry and the Internet. The text expands and enriches our knowledge of the complex and intricate nature of contemporary fandom."
- Maura Grady, Journal of American Culture (March 2014)
"An academic (though very accessible) book [...] [which] spend[s] a good deal of time discussing the unspoken divide between producers and fans, and the sort of policing that occurs when either side attempts to test the strength of this barrier."
- Elizabeth Minkel, New Statesman (10 April, 2014)
“Larsen and Zubernis have produced what will no doubt be a valuable addition to the growing scholarship on fan studies. Their passion as Supernatural fans shines through and they should be congratulated for researching and writing an influential book that asks the reader to not only consider their own relationship to a particular fandom but demands that they take notice and take seriously the diverse interests and emotional attachments millions have with their objects of affection.”
– Lincoln Geraghty, University of Portsmouth; Editor of the Directory of World Cinema: American Hollywood
“‘The fans’ are an incredibly important force in the entertainment industry: Powerful executives, directors and writers fear them, countless web sites cater to them and their support (or wrath) can make or break a project. But who are the fans? What do they want? How do they view their complex relationships with the stories and storytellers they obsess over? Fortunately, Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen are here to take us on a fascinating journey into the belly of the beast – an appropriate metaphor, given their profound and passionate knowledge of the complex and challenging spooky serial Supernatural. But you don’t have to be a fan of the Winchester Brothers to enjoy this witty, thoughtful and intelligent guide to the nature of fandom and the endless varieties of the fan experience. As Dean Winchester would say, ‘They get it.’”
– Maureen Ryan, Television Critic, AOL/Huffington Post
“Fandom At The Crossroads raises vital questions for contemporary fan studies. Pondering whether fan practices can be therapeutic, asking how boundaries between fans and producers are policed (from both sides), and considering fan conflicts, this is a rich and timely study of Supernatural fandom which also opens up wider issues surrounding convergence culture right now. Drawing on detailed, wide-ranging interviews with showrunners and the show’s cast, Fandom At The Crossroads also boasts a degree of access that’s incredibly rare in work of this kind. By combining their fan and scholarly identities, Larsen and Zubernis challenge all of us to see the subject anew.”
– Matt Hills, Cardiff University; Author of Fan Cultures and Triumph of a Time Lord
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