Looking to Fandom in a Time of Change

The following is the abstract for my keynote talk at EUROCALL 2017 (August 25, 2017) at the University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

We live in a time of change that requires flexible and creative approaches to the socio-political mandates and constraints imposed upon our teaching and scholarship. While CALL provides us with technology-mediated solutions to some of the challenges that stem from recent political developments (e.g. subverting limitations to academic freedom imposed by national travel bans; see Oskoz & Smith, 2017), technology itself poses other challenges, including threats to personal dignity, privacy, individual agency, and democratic digital citizenship (European Data Protection Supervisor, 2015). In this talk I argue that we look to fandom for inspiration and motivation in responding to the socio-political challenges facing us in this time of change.

Online fandom, defined as “the local and international networks of fans that develop around a particular program, text or other media product” (Sauro, 2014, p. 239) encompasses online affinity groups of fans who come together over social media and other Web 2.0 platforms to communicate, create, celebrate, critique or otherwise respond to the media, artist, personality, team or thing they are a fan of. These digital contexts and communication technologies have both enhanced and enabled sophisticated fan practices, for example, the formation of international and multilingual teams of fans engaged in amateur subtitling and translation of their favorite television shows and graphic novels (e.g., Valero-Porras & Cassany, 2016; Zhang & Cassany, 2016). At the same time, online fandom has also come together in response to changes and challenges in their socio-political landscape. This is illustrated, for instance, in the formation of the fan activist group the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) whose 100,000 worldwide members draw inspiration from the Harry Potter stories to mobilize against social injustices and to raise money for charity in response to international natural disasters and literacy initiatives (Jenkins, 2012). In addition, fandom’s response to shifting digital landscapes, including those brought about by corporate interest and ever-changing terms of service, has led to the formation of fan archives for the purpose of legitimizing and preserving fanworks (Lothian, 2011).

In this talk, I begin by reviewing research on fans which has examined their language and literacy development through various online fan practices such as modding and debating, fanfiction writing, scanlation, and spoiling. I then look to other practices or movements fans have engaged in to respond to changing sociopolitical and digital landscapes and which may serve as models and inspiration for the socio-political challenges CALL practitioners and researchers face in this time of change.

Gaming and Fan Site Workshop for Future Teachers

One of my favorite classes to teach is the gaming/fan site workshop for my freshmen and sophomores. The geeks and gamers are each tasked with teaching one to two curious classmates how to game or how to use a fan site. Then as a team they analyze the language and skills required of the game or site to brainstorm a teaching activity with it. Yesterday’s classes explored Portal, Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, Viki.com, Archive of Our Own, Civilization, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Deviantart. It’s kind of cool to see what each team comes up with and it’s especially fun to see my students so passionate about teaching each other about a thing they love.

Materials

Gaming and Fan Site Worksheet

Readings and Podcast

Sauro, S. (Producer). (2010, March 22). The CALLspot episode 4: Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) & language learning [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://callspot.libsyn.com/webpage/episode-4-massively-multiplayer-online-games-mmo-gs-language-learning

Sauro, S. (2017). Online fan practices and CALL. CALICO Journal, 34(2), 131-146. doi: 10.1558/CJ.33077

Sundqvist, P., & Sylvén, L.K., (2014). Language-related computer use: Focus on young L2 English learners in Sweden. ReCALL, 26(1), 3-20.

Fan Practices and Language Learning

Below are the links and resources introduced in the workshop on Fan Practices and Language Learning at Gymnasieskolan Spyken, Lund.

  1. Powerpoint slides
  2. Fanfiction Tasks Worksheet
  3. The Blogging Hobbit (2014)– detailed instructions
  4. A Study in Sherlock (2016)– detailed instructions and rubric
  5. Casefic 2016 – 17 Sherlock Holmes fanfiction stories completed by students this past January

Example fanfiction shared with students by Sherlock fans and used as models for different types of casefic in 2015 and 2016:

  1. The Beleaguered Red-Head by moonblossom – Retelling of The Red-Headed League in the BBC Sherlock Universe
  2. The Adventure of the Bridegroom’s Photograph by spacemutineer Original casefic based on a real life mystery – ACD Holmes
  3. The Vast Profundity Obscure by mistyzeo – Original casefic – ACD Holmes/His Dark Materials fusion

References cited in this workshop

Black, R.W. (2006). Language, culture, and identity in online fanfiction. E-learning, 3, 180–184.

Cavicchi, D. (1998). Tramps like us: Music and meaning among Springsteen fans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Curwood, J.S. (2013). Fan fiction, remix culture, and The Potter Games. In V.E. Frankel (Ed.), Teaching with Harry Potter (pp. 81-92). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Duffett, M. (2013). Understanding fandom: An introduction to the study of media fan culture. New York/London: Bloomsbury.

Fukunaga, N. (2006). “Those anime students”: Foreign language literacy development through Japanese popular culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 206-222.

Jamison, A. (2013). ‘Why Fic?’ in A. Jamison (ed.). Fic: Why fanfiction is taking over the world. Dallas, TX: Smart Pop Books.

Lam, W. S. E. (2000). Literacy and the design of the self: A case study of a teenager writing on the Internet. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 457-484.

Lepännen, S., Pitkänen-Huhta, A., Piirainen-Marsch, A., Nikula, T., & Peuronen, S. (2009). Young people’s translocal new media uses: A multiperspective analysis of language choice and hetero-glossia. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 1080–1107.

Sauro, S. (2014). Lessons from the fandom: Task models for technology-enhanced language learning. In M. González-Lloret & L. Ortega (Eds). Technology-mediated TBLT: Researching technology and tasks, (pp. 239-262). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Sauro, S., & Sundmark, B. (2016,) Report from Middle Earth: Fanfiction tasks in the EFL classroom. ELT Journal, 70(4), 414-423 . doi: 10.1093/elt/ccv075

Sauro, S., & Zourou, K. (2017). CALL for papers for CALL in the Digital Wilds special issue. Language Learning & Technology, 21(1), 186.

Sundqvist, P., & Sylvén, L.K., (2014). Language-related computer use: Focus on young L2 English learners in Sweden. ReCALL, 26(1), 3-20.

Bringing Fanfiction to the English Classroom

Below are the links and resources introduced in the workshop A Study in Sherlock & The Blogging Hobbit: Bringing Fanfiction to the English Classroom at Katedralskolan.

  1. Powerpoint slides part I – by Björn Sundmark
  2. Powerpoint slides part II– by Shannon Sauro
  3. Fanfiction Tasks Worksheet
  4. The Blogging Hobbit (2014)– detailed instructions
  5. A Study in Sherlock (2016)– detailed instructions and rubric
  6. Casefic 2016 – 17 Sherlock Holmes fanfiction stories completed by students this past January

Example fanfiction shared with students by Sherlock fans and used as models for different types of casefic in 2015 and 2016:

  1. The Beleaguered Red-Head by moonblossom – Retelling of The Red-Headed League in the BBC Sherlock Universe
  2. The Adventure of the Bridegroom’s Photograph by spacemutineer Original casefic based on a real life mystery – ACD Holmes
  3. The Vast Profundity Obscure by mistyzeo – Original casefic – ACD Holmes/His Dark Materials fusion

Additional resources and materials on using fanfiction for language and literacy development:

  1. Fandom & Language Learning – a collection of videos and other materials (some already included here) on using fanfiction and fan tasks for language teaching.
  2. Lessons from the Fandom – a book chapter outlining different ideas for language learning tasks that draw upon different fan practices, including fanfiction, threaded games, and fan-subbing.
  3. Report from Middle Earth – report on the language and literary learning that resulted from incorporating our first fanfiction task, The Blogging Hobbit, in a university English teacher education course.

 

A Study in Sherlock – Casefic 2016

Here are the Sherlock Holmes inspired mysteries (casefic) written by English teacher education students for this year’s fanfiction project, A Study in Sherlock (2016). In total there were 19 stories (17 of which are available here) written by teams of 2-5, students who were given the option of retelling a Sherlock Holmes mystery in a new universe or telling a new Sherlock Holmes mystery in any universe (including the original universe of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.)

The Adventure of the Garrideb – A retellling of The Three Garridebs but set in Malmö, Sweden and following the protagonists Miss Sherlottie and Dr. Winston.

The Bride of Christ – A Sherlock Holmes short story, set in Alabama in the 1910s. Sherlock’s gender is altered, and her name is Sherry. Together with John Watson, she investigates a missing person case and gets tangled up in mess of religious fanatics, inbred moonshiners and incompetent policemen.

The Covenant of Surtr – Sherlock Holmes and John Watson encounter a cult.

An Eastern Wind is Coming  – A tale of revenge set in the BBC Sherlock universe.

The Greedy and Murderous Garridebs – Fanfiction retelling of the The Three Garridebs.

The Missing Case – Fanfiction based on BBC’s Sherlock (and elements of ACD Sherlock Holmes). Set in an alternate universe where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson travel to the USA to solve the murder of John F. Kennedy.

The Quilong Dragon Soup – It has been forty years since they first met, however, they still are the same old John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. A man shows up in an asylum, showing many of the symptoms of the Spanish flu. Delirious, sweating, and vomiting, the man utters one last word before dying, Dragon. It is now up to the two protagonists to solve the case and regain their former glory.

A Scandal in Social Media – Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are young high school boys who are roommates in Baker dorm during their first year at Bortholomew’s boarding high school. They get involved with the beautiful Irene Adler while trying to save Mycroft Holmes’s reputation from a scandal all over social media.

A Spell in Scarlet – The first two chapters of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet, redone in the universe of Harry Potter during the late 1800s. And Sherlock is a woman.

The Stolen Ring – A trip to Sweden turns into something much more dangerous as John discovers that someone is out for vengeance. Inspired by BBC Sherlock.

A Study in Blue – Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who fusion. What happens when Sherlock and Watson are called to help Lestrade with a murder and find a Doctor Smith and a Ms Noble at the crime scene?

A Study in Brown – A retelling of BBC Sherlock’s A Study in Pink set in Malmö with Sherlock and John as high school students.

A Study in Crimson – A fusion of ACD’s A Study in Scarlet and the tv series Penny Dreadful.

A Study in Graffiti – A modern story based on A Study in Scarlet.

A Study in Loneliness – Fanfiction influenced by A Study in Scarlet and the episode A Study in Pink from BBC series Sherlock.

A Study in Mean Girls – John Watson works as a teacher at a high school, and he feels somewhat unfulfilled with his life. However, when a student is burned alive, he is directed by the principal to work on the case with a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

The Wild Chase – Set in an original sci-fi universe. Sherlock Holmes with Dr Watson is on a vacation, but Striker and Robin is on a case and need some help solving it.