This is cross-posted to my LJ blog here.
TWC No. 1 released
I’m pleased to announce that Transformative Works and Cultures has just released its debut issue. My coeditor, Kristina Busse, and I are incredibly excited about it because we think there is some excellent scholarship in this issue, plus some great personal essays that help the issue range widely. We want academics and fans to meet in this space, and we’re hopeful that this issue will generate a lot of interest and discussion.
We encourage visitors to sign up for a user ID, so we can better track our “circulation.” In addition, it’s possible to comment on the essays, so we hope readers will do that to engage the authors in dialogue.
One thing Kristina and I are particularly excited about is the open access nature of the journal—that means it’s available to all online, for free. I’m all over that for several reasons. Those of you who have heard me speak (passionately) at academic conventions about the publishing industry will know that I think that the print model is on its way out, and the prestige of print is not long for this world. I’m watching it happen in the sciences (I’m employed in the scientific, technical, and medical publishing industry), and it’s going to bleed out into the humanities and social sciences next. It’s a natural fit for TWC: this issue has embedded Imeem vids, screen caps, and stills. In color. Try that in print!
The open access thing was particularly driven home to me while I was fact-checking some bibliographical items in this issue. I knew this already, but I discovered anew (because I do not have an academic appointment and thus don’t have mad library privilegez, which may have let me bypass some of this), that a huge amount of content is locked down, even for stuff that is, frankly, old. So you want to discover the page range of that article? Ha ha ha! We’re not telling! It’s a secret! To learn that info, you can buy the article! For a mere $30! Yeah, right.
TWC is going to be under intense scrutiny for a couple reasons. One is the whole audience = acafan thing. Academics will scrutinize the issue for rigor, and fans will scrutinize it for accessibility. (Can the twain meet? We think so, obviously, but let’s find out.) But it’s also going to be under scrutiny because anybody can read the essays for free—no passwords, no fees, no nothing.
Particularly for fans, who are keen sharers of info, it’s hard to believe that this model is actually revolutionary, but in the academic realm, it really, really is. The essays are going to be read and cited widely not only because they are damn good and add important things to scholarship and meta discussion, but because users can actually access them without traveling to the library stacks to find a printed issue that they can photocopy. Sure, we’re going to get puzzled generalist readers along with our target acafan audience, but you know what? I actually think that it’s a good thing to widen the audience. Welcome to fan studies, everybody!
The first issue of Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC; http://journal.transformativeworks.org/) was released on September 15, 2008. This open-access online multimedia fan studies journal publishes scholarly essays, personal essays, and book reviews. TWC is published under the umbrella of the nonprofit fan advocacy group Organization for Transformative Works (http://transformativeworks.org/), and although its audience will primarily be acafans (academic fans), its scope ranges widely with the aim of providing a forum for fannish voices, academic or not.
“One important aspect of the journal is its open-access nature,” Karen Hellekson, coeditor of TWC, commented. “It will be available for anyone to read, without any subscription restrictions. Plus it’s online, so the articles can use hotlinks and embed videos. It’s really time to move beyond the print model, so it’s exciting that we’re able to do that.” She points to Francesca Coppa’s essay, “Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding,” as an example of an essay that uses embedded media. “It’s got screen caps from fan vids, plus embedded links to video, all to support her argument. It really explores the range of what multimedia has to offer.” The issue also contains an audio feature, presented by Bob Rehak, with two downloadable recordings of a discussion held at the 2008 Console-ing Passions academic conference.
The first issue ranges widely to showcase TWC’s interdisciplinary scope. For example, the political realm is dealt with by Abigail De Kosnik in “Participatory Democracy and Hillary Clinton’s Marginalized Fandom,” which applies fan theoretical models to contemporary Democratic political behavior. “This is a great example of fan studies being used to inform the political,” Kristina Busse, TWC coeditor, pointed out. “The field ranges so widely, and I don’t think people realize how applicable the scholarship is in other arenas.” For example, pedagogy and writing is handled by Bram Stoker award-winning horror writer Michael A. Arnzen, whose essay, “The Unlearning: Horror and Transformative Theory,” uses a classroom writing exercise revolving around horror texts to emphasize the central importance of transformation in writing, and Madeline Ashby’s “Ownership, Authority, and the Body: Does Antifanfic Sentiment Reflect Posthuman Anxiety?” uses specific anime films as metaphor for the role of women’s writing online.
Several interviews also appear in the issue. The TWC editors interviewed Henry Jenkins, whose groundbreaking work in fan studies is required reading by all fan studies scholars, and the three members of the Audre Lorde of the Rings, a conglomerate of academics, artists, and activists. Veruska Sabucco interviews one member of the Italian writing collective known as Wu Ming to talk about Wu Ming’s activist project and fan writing in terms of collective authorship, copyrights concerns, and popular culture. And fan voices are also heard in the Symposium section, including an essay by the founder of the Fanfic Symposium, Rebecca Lucy Busker, whose “On Symposia: LiveJournal and the Shape of Fannish Discourse” focuses on fannish meta discourses and the particular ways LiveJournal’s interface has shaped and affected style and content.
“This is a strong issue that we hope will invite many more diverse contributions,” Busse said. The second issue of TWC, which will focus on games and gaming, is scheduled for March 15, 2009, publication; No. 3 will appear September 15, 2009, and will feature more general submissions.