Natalia Samutina 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

The Great Female Readers: Fan Fiction as a Literary Experience

2013, vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 137–194 [issue contents]

The main object of this interdisciplinary paper is examining fan fiction as a social practice and a literary experience. Its conclusions draw upon the results from two years of field research conducted in the Russian Harry Potter female fan fiction Internet community. Reading communities play a crucial part in this new type of literary communication, even though these communities are completely ignored by the literature industry. These online communities strongly support the readers’ writings, provide an exchange of experiences, encourage the rethinking of different contexts of literary and social behavior, foster the development of literary and social imagination, and so on. While analyzing and theorizing fan fiction in detail as a literary experience, the author draws upon Uses of Literature (2008) by Rita Felski and her concept of the “modes of textual engagement”. The author comes to the conclusion that fan fiction uses even more “modes of textual engagement” compared to institutionalized literature, while minimizing all the factors leading to the rejection of a reader — which helps to understand the reasons for fan fiction’s enormous popularity and the practices of extensive reading. Apart from the four general functions of literature Rita Felski deals with (recognition, enchantment, knowledge and shock), fan fiction is based on two additional functions of the correspondence with “canon”, and the correspondence on pornography. All these modes of textual engagement saturate the fan fiction reader’s experience with intensity, corporeality and efficiency. This ethnographic research is complemented with theoretical questions about the changing role of a reader and a writer in amateur online literary communication.

Citation: (2013) Velikie chitatel'nitsy: fanfikshn kak forma literaturnogo opyta [The Great Female Readers: Fan Fiction as a Literary Experience] The Russian Sociological Review, 3, pp. 137-194 (in Russian)
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