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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

Do you remember your first fandom? The first time you discovered a new fanwork that was just perfect for you? The first time you found a fan community? The first time you ever watched fan video or listened to a podfic? The first time you made friends with another fan online? The first time you shipped something?

Whatever the experience, a first time is unique.

What was your first time with us like? Did a friend rec you a fanwork on AO3? Did you find TWC while you were researching for a school project? Did you find Fanlore when you were looking up a bit of fannish history online? Did you find out about our legal advocacy because you had questions about your rights as a fan? Did an older fic you loved come to the AO3 through Open Doors? Were you looking for meta when you found Fanhackers?

Tell us in the comments below how you found us. Whether you remember the OTW before we owned a single server or just found us today, we are so excited to have you with us!

Please, help us to continue to go forward together by donating today, and tell us about your first time with the OTW. We'd love to hear your story.


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

In a world…

In a world without the members and donors whose support makes its work possible, the OTW could not exist. And if the OTW could not exist, the projects it's been carrying out for the past eight years would not be supporting fans, fanworks, and fandom right now and into the future.

Support the OTW now!

Without the OTW, first and foremost, there would be no Archive of Our Own. The AO3 is one of the two largest fanwork archives on the web, and it's the only one whose only constraint on fanworks is that they not violate U.S. law. The AO3 is the only fanwork archive with a dedicated legal team backing it up to protect its fanworks against takedown requests, because the OTW has made it clear that it believes fanworks are transformative works, and transformative works are entirely legal.

Without the OTW, that legal team that responds to takedown requests on the Archive would never have been assembled, and all the other legal advocacy work it's done would never have happened. The OTW's Legal team has applied for DMCA exemptions for vidding practices from the U.S. Copyright Office. They've spearheaded working with organizations whose interests overlap with OTW's to defend user rights and advocate for copyright reform around the world. They've helped people testify about fandom and fanworks to the U.S. Congress--and that was all just this year!

Without the OTW, dozens of at-risk fandom archives would have faded into the oblivion of link rot, accessible only to people who know about the Wayback Machine, if those sites were ever included in it. Thanks to the OTW's Open Doors committee, at-risk fan archives from the earliest days of the internet and forward have been able to move to the AO3, where the works they hosted will be preserved for future fans. Open Doors has also assisted many fans with donating decades of print archives to the University of Iowa's special collections.

Without the OTW, the leading journal of fan studies would not be an editorially independent, peer-reviewed, online open access journal. Transformative Works and Cultures is an innovative space in which peer-reviewed academic articles stand alongside essays by fans, and in which fandom, fans, and fanworks are treated as worthy of discussion. Equally importantly, TWC has provided a place where fan scholars have been able to tell the stories of transformative works fandoms, pushing back against their erasure from mainstream narratives about "remix culture."

Without the OTW, in short, fandom and fans would have no dedicated platform in online, legal, academic, and offline spaces. The OTW was founded in the belief that fandom and fanworks are legitimate, and that the best way to ensure they would be protected and supported was to do that work ourselves. Eight years later, that's truer than ever.

What keeps our current universe from turning into this darkest timeline in which the OTW doesn't exist? The support of our donors and members. Support the OTW's work, and donate today!

Support the OTW's work and donate today!

– Andrea Horbinski, OTW Board of Directors


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

Author's note: You may have heard that the OTW is doing a "drive" this week. We wanted to make sure everyone knew what this thing was all about, so if you're curious, you've come to the right place. Whatever your drive-related questions, we're here to answer them. Happy reading!

What a drive (a.k.a. a donation/membership campaign) IS:

  • a semiannual, week-long fundraising event to raise money for the OTW
  • a way to encourage people to become OTW members
  • the time when the OTW generates about 85% of its income. (The other 15% comes from donations given during the rest of the year.)

The OTW generates about 85% of its income during the drive. (The other 15% comes from donations given during the rest of the year.)

  • the reason why the OTW is able to keep working on projects like AO3, Fanlore, Open Doors, and Legal Advocacy
  • the reason those projects can continue helping fans all over the world

What a drive is NOT:

  • an evil plot to take over the world, one donation at a time
  • a way to raise money for individual people. In fact, the OTW is a nonprofit, and every cent you donate goes directly to operations. The OTW doesn't pay any of its volunteers, staff, or Board members.

The elements that come together to create a drive:

  • the OTW's Development and Membership, Translation, and Communications committees (the people writing, translating, and publishing these posts and answering your emails about donations and premiums)
  • spreading the word (the posts and graphics you see, the emails you get, and the stuff we share on social media)
  • premiums (the thank-you gifts you can get for donating)
  • a theme. (This drive's theme is "Different Tropes for Different Folks".)
  • you!

None of this would be possible without your support. Please help us meet our goal of US$175,000 by donating today!


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

We all have different reasons for getting into fandom, like an internet search that led us to an unexpected piece of art, a friend who showed us a favorite vid, or a parent who shared a treasured zine. Similarly, we all have different reasons for donating to the Organization for Transformative Works.

Some of us donate because we love AO3. Some of us donate because we're passionate about legal advocacy for fans. Some of us want to put our support behind preserving fan sites and fan histories through Open Doors and Fanlore. And, just as some of us are multishippers, some of us can't pick a favorite because we love all of the OTW's projects.

The good news is we don't have to pick just one project to support! The money raised during this drive will go toward continuing all of the OTW's work by funding our operating costs for the next six months, setting a strong foundation for our future in 2016.

You can help us meet our goal of US$175,000 with a one-time donation in any amount, or with a monthly recurring donation. Donations over US$50 will qualify you for a thank-you gift.

Whether you found fandom via a Google search for your favorite character, an article about remix culture on your favorite news site, or novelizations of your favorite films; whether you found the OTW through LiveJournal, Tumblr, a friend, or a family member, please join us over the next week as we celebrate the OTW and its projects with our favorite tropes.

Please join us, too, in providing the financial support needed to preserve and defend access to those fan efforts by donating to the OTW today!


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2015-10-06 12:18:11 -0400

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages.

I. 8 and 20

Communications assisted Journal in celebrating the release of their 20th issue soon after the OTW as a whole turned 8 years old. Journal's editors extended kudos to production editor Rrain Prior for her stellar work handling all the production details and to Communications volunteer caitie~ for the fabulous artwork for Issue No. 20. Systems also updated the software TWC uses, OJS, to its latest version and Journal has been able to bring some new recruits on board for production work.


Accessibility, Design & Technology produced 5 code releases, which included resolution of a few issues created (and addressed!) in hopes of making the lives of their fellow volunteers in Systems and Abuse a little bit easier. They also created a budget proposal for 2016, and worked closely with Development & Membership to create an Accessibility, Design & Technology-focused post and finalize an email about the upcoming membership drive. They've also been working up a few news posts about some upcoming changes we're really excited about. Stay tuned!

Abuse received over 300 tickets in September. They sadly lost a few staffers recently, but are in the process of recruiting. The committee has been working on documentation and is trialing a chair training track with two lucky volunteers. They will be evaluating the training as they go along, and one volunteer may get to join as co-chair next year.

AO3 Documentation are working well towards their goal of having new versions of all AO3 FAQs up by the end of the year. In September they uploaded the new version of the About FAQ, and have completed new help text for the 'Tips & Tricks' that all AO3 users see after creating their account.

Support had another 700-ticket strong month; as such, they are a touch behind on tickets, but are trying to catch up. They will also be transitioning between ticket tracking software over the next month or so to a system that will better handle the capacity we're receiving. User alert: there will be bumps!

Open Doors has just about finished helping the Table for Three mod import that archive, and will be helping the Seamus/Dean Forever mod soon.

Tag Wrangling welcomed 3 new staff members and said goodbye to 2 staff members who we will be missed very much. For projects, they began a new system called AO3_Wrangling_Project, which should make it easier to regularly wrangle unassigned fandoms in need. They've also have 12 new guideline discussions; they'll begin exploring those topics as a team shortly. Tag Wrangling has also responded to several requests from the Support team, from wranglers, and from users on Twitter, and have hosted several tag wrangling parties.


Legal celebrated a victory! In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in the case of Lenz v. Universal, agreeing with the OTW and its allies that "[f]air use is not just excused by the law, it is wholly authorized by the law." This is what we argued in our amicus brief in the case, which was submitted to the court all the way back in December 2013. Justice sometimes takes a long time! As Legal said in the OTW News post about the case, the Lenz ruling is good for fans and transformative creators, but our work is far from done—we will continue to fight for fair use in the U.S. and around the world.

For example, in September, Legal submitted a comment to the South African government in response to the government’s call for comments regarding possible copyright law reforms. Our comment urged South Africa to adopt a fair use standard to replace its narrow and outdated copyright exceptions.

Translation received 90 applications total in the August-September recruitment round. They accepted 40 new recruits, most of whom have already finished training and are hard at work, including two new language teams: Greek and Norwegian! This month, Translation is working closely with Development and Membership, translating the upcoming October drive posts, and with Elections, preparing content for the upcoming OTW elections and a few static pages on their website.

Wiki has been at work coordinating Stub September at Fanlore. Engagement has been good on Dreamwidth and Twitter, and significant additions have been made to many stubs!


Strategic Planning now has the 3rd and semi-final version of the OTW strategic plan under internal review. They will be presenting the strategic plan at the OTW Annual Meeting with the hopes of having it and the implementation support plan approved by Board. They will also be asking the Board for their strategic guidance on the focus, scope and reach of the next round of strategic planning.

Elections announced 8 candidates this year, and worked with them to provide individual Bios & Manifestos for OTW members to read. Voters will be able to choose who joins the Board during our election spanning November 6th to 9th. Eligible to vote are any members who joined between October 6th, 2014 and October 6th, 2015 (including both days!) For more information, please see the Eligibility and Voting Instructions posts. Other questions can be directed to the Elections Contact Form

Currently candidates are composing responses to the over 50 questions submitted. Thank you for the enthusiastic response! Candidates' answers will be posted in batches once they are completed by all candidates. On September 27th, it was announced that the Board had directed the Elections Committee to remove former Treasurer Nikisha Sanders from the ballot. Dan Lamson also withdrew his candidacy for the Board on September 27th.

Development & Membership continues to prepare for the October Drive and are looking at adding a second payment processor to the donation page called iATS, which specializes in nonprofits. They hope to have it up and running for the drive so that anyone not wanting to use Paypal will have another option. Development & Membership also sent some documents to Legal for review regarding the possible use of Cafe Press as an OTW Merchandise Store platform, and they hope to have a store up and running by the end of 2015.

Internationalization & Outreach worked on training new staff and updated their training and recruitment materials with the hope of recruiting again soon. Staff have been at work revising the committee's plan to make the OTW more inclusive, in response to internal feedback received.


Volunteers & Recruiting did a lot of recruiting in September, seeking staff for Abuse, Communications, Systems, and Volunteers & Recruiting and continued inductions from August. Thank you to everyone for volunteering, and those departing staff and volunteers for their work.

New Committee Staff: Kathryn Soderholm (Internationalization & Outreach), Phoenixacid (Tag Wrangling), Sass (Tag Wrangling), and 1 other Tag Wrangling
New Journal Volunteers: Sarah New, Latina Vidolova, Rebecca Sentence, Gabriel Simm and 2 others
New Translator Volunteers: wordsoftreason, halfslytherin, Ana Beatriz, theimprobable1, gallica, marrjoram, Hatoko, Ipek and 18 others

Departing Committee Staff: Matty Lynne (Support), Llwyden ferch Gyfrinach (Tag Wrangling), 2 Abuse, 1 AO3 Documentation, and 1 Communications
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1
Departing Translator Volunteers: Nari, Chloe, Mary Tagus, and 1 other

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.


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Here at AO3, we've been looking into getting some paid coding help for a few years, to work on projects that are larger or more time-consuming than our volunteers are able to tackle in their spare time, and also just to help with the backlog of work and offer some extra assistance. We had a contractor take on a few small projects last year, but to outsource work on major projects, you need to be able to form longer relationships.

Today we're excited to announce that thanks to user donations, we've been able to contract an experienced programmer for several months' worth of work! \o/ And she isn't just an experienced Ruby developer — she's a Ruby developer who has been working on the Archive since 2008! Since she's familiar with all the nooks and crannies of our infrastructure, it will be easy for her to jump right in on major projects, like the much-needed update to our searching and filtering code. After that, it's onwards to back-end improvements, code cleanup, and other long-awaited projects like site internationalization.

Our new contractor is starting work next week, and we'll have a preview of her work on the searching and filtering code soon! Thanks to all of you for the donations that have been keeping the site running and are now enabling us to make it even better.


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2015-09-21 12:29:12 -0400

Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting! This week we are looking for Abuse Committee Staff, Communications Chair Track Staff, Systems Staff and Volunteers & Recruiting Staff.

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Journal Staff, Journal Volunteers & Translation Volunteers. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Abuse Committee Staff - closing 28 September UTC
  • Communications Chair Track Staff - closing 28 September UTC
  • Volunteers & Recruiting Staff - closing 28 September UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Abuse Committee Staff

The Abuse Committee is dedicated to helping users deal with the various situations that may arise. We also handle any complaints that come in about content uploaded to the Archive of Our Own. The team determines if complaints are about legitimate violations of the Terms of Service, and what to do about them if they are; our major goals are to adhere to the TOS, to make our reasoning and processes as clear and transparent as possible, and to keep every individual case completely confidential. We work closely with other AO3 related committees such as Support and Content.

We are seeking people who can keep in close contact, be patient in rephrasing explanations, make and document decisions, cooperate within and outside of their team, and ask for help when it's needed. Staffers need to be able to handle complex and sometimes-disturbing content, and must be able to commit a sufficient amount of time to the team on a regular basis.

Abuse staffers are required to spend at least five hours a week handling committee work, though it often tends to be more. Please be sure you can handle the workload before applying.

Applications are due 28 September 2015 UTC

Commmunications Chair Track Staff

The Communications Committee is the central information distributing arm of the OTW, responsible for the distribution of information internally to OTW personnel and externally to the general public, the media, fans, and other fannish organizations. Communications is also typically the first point of contact for someone interested in or wanting help from OTW, and serves all of the organization's committees and projects. The position of Chair Track Staffer is designed for individuals with ample time to learn all aspects of Communications' activities, and who would like to work toward being considered for the role of chair.

Applications are due 28 September 2015 UTC

Systems Staff

The Systems Committee is dedicated to supporting, troubleshooting, and expanding the technological infrastructure that underlies the OTW’s many projects. Systems staff members manage many day-to-day aspects of Linux system administration, such as Email Server administration, DNS updates, Apache management, and user/group rights and permissions. Committee members also tackle larger projects like virtual machine installation and configuration, researching better ways to manage our infrastructure, optimizing, and planning for the future.

We are seeking individuals who have some experience in remote Linux administration. A focus in one of the following areas is greatly desired: Email Server administration, Routing/Networking, Configuration Management (such as Chef, Puppet, Salt, Ansible, or CFengine), Virtual Machine configuration and management with VirtualBox, VMWare, or Xen, and/or MySQL database administration. However expertise in all areas is not required, and training will be provided.

Applications are due 28 September 2015 UTC

Volunteers & Recruiting Staff

Volunteers & Recruiting staff guide and manage services, policies, recruitment and volunteer management for the entire organization; compose and maintain organization policy and training documentation; and communicate with other committees and workgroups in the Organization for Transformative Works on matters related to organization tools and staffing needs. Volunteers & Recruiting staff also serve as a neutral party for personnel-related issues..

Applications are due 28 September 2015 UTC

Apply at the volunteering page!


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Banner by Ania of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on on Journal'

This month we're celebrating Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), the OTW's international peer-reviewed academic online journal focused on media studies which has published its 20th issue . Don't forget to join us on September 19th for our live chat.

Today we're taking a deeper look at TWC's history. Paul Booth and Lucy Bennett are TWC authors, frequently peer review for the journal, and have guest edited an issue together; Paul is also a TWC editorial board member. Amanda Odom is an author who has written two Symposium articles. All three were kind enough to answer some questions about their experiences with the journal and the field of fan studies.

The journal’s 20th issue is a major milestone. It’s been seven years since Volume 1 was published. Are you at all surprised that TWC is still going strong?

Paul: I am not at all surprised at the success of Transformative Works and Cultures. From its first issue, it has been putting out quality scholarship and rigorous academic work that has been a boon to fan studies (and fandom in general). I know that open publishing in the academic world – that is, publishing that does not reside behind paywalls and outmoded forms of siloed scholarship – is perceived in many quarters of academic life to be less valuable, but if anything TWC has proven the exact opposite. By publishing in a style that emulates fans themselves, by allowing anyone to access and learn from the journal, TWC has made fan scholarship more accessible to academics and to fans (and to aca-fans, and fan-academics, and fan-scholars, and scholar-fans, or whatever other appellations might be appropriate!). Fan studies has grown as a field precisely because of this open access – by offering insightful and grounded articles to people who might not normally consider themselves part of the “fan studies” academic discipline, TWC has actually opened up what it means to be an academic and what it means to do academic work in the 21st century. Transformative Works and Cultures has truly broadened the field and allows many people to access work that they might never have had the chance to do so before. They should be commended on their anniversary for all this important work! We all thrive because of TWC.

Lucy: Not at all! I think that the journal is an absolute testament to the vibrancy of the field right now. I feel that fan studies is at such an exciting moment in its development – new scholars are emerging and, quite importantly, the field is becoming more reflective towards itself, finding the gaps and omissions and attempting to bring them to our collective attention. The run of conferences this year (PCA [Popular Culture Association conference], SCMS [Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference], FSN [Fan Studies Network conference]) and the dialogue that flowed between them demonstrates the energy that has been building. I feel that TWC has developed in accordance with this, producing some incredible work, alongside very timely and important special issues. This encouragement for special issues in particular I feel has bolstered the energy and direction of the journal, in addition to its emphasis on the protection of fan work and sources – an extremely vital factor within fandom research.

Being an open access publication is also hugely important in the current academic climate, making this work more available and accessible to a more widespread readership. I think this is an extremely valuable asset of the journal.

I want to say too – I also think that the success of TWC has been hugely helped along by the strongly supportive editing practices of Kristina and Karen. As an author and also a guest editor, I can see how valuable their guidance is through the process. Their encouragement and support to new and established authors is the jewel of TWC.

So overall, I am not surprised at all that TWC is going strong. Reading the early issues, I had strong hopes for the journal and am very excited about the way it has developed and exceeded my initial anticipation.

Amanda: I would be very surprised if it were not. The film, comic, and gaming industries (to name a few) have been embracing more than ever fan cultures. We can see this in the types of films that are grossing highest at the box office over the last few years (including The Dark Knight, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series). We can look to fan-favorite directors like Joss Whedon and James Gunn (who himself started out working with a longstanding fandom favorite, the Troma team) who have been given the resources to make those top grossing films. We can see it in the increase of “mainstream” authors who started out as and or continue to be fanfiction writers. In fact, several non-academic periodicals are considering the place that fanfiction holds in modern media (The Washington Post, Wired, and Entertainment Weekly have all had articles on this in the last year). The fact that Alternate Universe (AU) scripts are increasingly popular (Star Wars and Once Upon a Time come to mind) is another indication of the fluidity of canon texts.

What with novels like Grey and Twilight, the reworking of Star Trek and Star Wars, and the new prestige of cons like SDCC and NYCC, these last few years have seen a more widespread mainstream media focus on transformative works and fan communities. Have you seen a related increase in the quantity and variety of papers submitted?

Paul: I have to admit that while fandom itself is becoming a more mainstream type of identity – more people are identifying as fans, and more people are proud of their fannish identity – I haven’t seen an increase in the quantity and variety of papers submitted. Of course, I only see a very small percentage of the papers anyway – just the ones that I’m asked to review and the ones for my special issue. So I don’t have a view of the entire scope of the submissions. The papers and articles that get published today are just as high quality as the ones from 2008, and especially the general issues represent a wide variety of content about transformative works. If anything, what I’ve seen more generally in fan scholarship is a critique and re-reading of this mainstreaming narrative. Authors like Kristina Busse, Matt Hills, and Suzanne Scott are complicating this “mainstream” identity and illustrating that only particular identities are becoming mainstream, and only particular types of fandoms become exalted. Although we may have moved past the dichotomous perception that “sports fans are normal while media fans are Othered,” I think there’s a long way to go before media fans (specifically non-white, female, transformative fans) are perceived as equally valid as other types of fans.

Lucy: I do think that to some degree this more widespread focus on fandom has attracted more scholars to fan studies in general, and thus to the journal. It is difficult for me to gauge this in terms of overall submissions, but as a reader of TWC, and a reviewer, I have observed a wider scope of material being studied and published on. I find the mainstream focus from the media quite exciting in terms of exploring what this landscape means, both for fan studies scholars and fans. I think that TWC has reflected this energy very well, but it always has done, since its early issues.

Amanda: The discussion points from previous journals remain vital and relevant today as they did when they were originally penned. Looking back to the first issue, I note, for example, there was an article on “Participatory democracy and Hillary Clinton’s marginalized fandom.”

Interestingly, the article "'Once more a kingly quest': Fan games and the classic adventure genre” from 2009 is of even more relevance, as the Kings Quest series is adding a new game and both Gabriel Knight and Grim Fandango have had anniversary remasters, and many retro or small press game companies have turned to Kickstarter and other crowdfund campaigns to bring fan and creator dreams to life.

The definition of fandom is diverse. The journal has continued to embrace this diversity by discussing music, sport, novels, comics, films, and games, and in the way that it has explored history, considered future trends, and examined fandom “in action” by exploring current conventions and groups. Themes of the participatory experience, the issue of ownership (of bodies, of text), and of the social community of fandom have been refined in the mainstream. As the fan participation continued to evolve, the journal has been able to examine many micro and macro elements of the field.

Wearing your reviewer’s hat, can you tell us what it is about a particular paper that not only really grabs your attention but also makes that paper an excellent fit for publication in the journal?

Paul: For me, the most exciting papers are the ones that take me in new directions in fan studies. I think the power of journals like Transformative Works and Cultures lies in the forward-looking work being done in the journal. It's pushing the field in new directions. A publishable paper has to be based in the literature but not so reliant on it that it just restates what was already found. It has to also demonstrate that the author has done his/her homework, that he/she knows the key works in that area of the field. As a field we’ve moved past just “Jenkins 1992” (although that is still important!): so much fan studies work has come out in just the last ten years that it’s important to recognize the key changes in the discipline. Of course, it’s also helpful that the field isn’t so large that this is an impossible task! But the key for me is always going to be finding original arguments. I love reviewing and staying at the forefront of the field – knowing what’s coming down the pipeline gives me a thrill.

Lucy: Personally, there are a number of areas that can excite me about a potential TWC paper. It can be a bold attempt at method, a strong argument, or just an exploration of an area that has not been covered extensively before. Studies that embrace literature that go beyond the usual vista can also be very compelling. I find the emphasis on transformative practices can attract some very dynamic studies, and those that cover new, or previously scantily examined, ground can really grab my attention at the outset.

Amanda: Any text should engage because it establishes an element of relevance to some larger picture. For fan studies, I love to examine connections between a text in specific and a greater genre, a genre and a readership, a readership and a community.

Can you tell us a little about the pre-production editing process? Does the editorial staff work hand-in-hand with the authors? In general, does a paper change much at all from submission to journal publication?

Paul: I can only speak to my own experiences with the journal: the articles I’ve published and the special issue that Lucy and I put together. In general the amount of changes that happens to an article can vary greatly from what was submitted and what sorts of revisions are necessary. The content revisions through peer review can be either laborious or minor; it really depends on how solid the paper is upon its initial submission. The first paper I submitted to the journal (for issue 9, “Fan/Remix Video,”) was extremely different from what was eventually published because of the exquisite peer review process. I got extraordinary feedback that helped the article become much stronger – but in the process it changed a lot! The other article I’ve published, in issue 18, didn’t require as much content revision. (This isn’t a comment about the peer reviewers or editors, who are consistently good; just a reflection of different articles written at different points in my career). Both articles as published were different than what were originally submitted – different and significantly better! This is one of the reasons I really enjoy peer reviewing articles: I find that my own writing has benefited so much from the quality peer reviews I’ve received, both in TWC and in most of the other journals I’ve published in, so I try to give back quality feedback in return.

Publishing a special issue has its own challenges and joys, of course – both Lucy and I worked more closely with the editors to provide feedback to the authors. I was able to follow the copy editing process more closely as well, and I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the copy edits. It would never fail that Lucy, myself, and the author of an article would read through the article numerous times, feel as though it was perfect, and then get back a paper with lots of red marks! The work of copyeditors often goes unheralded, but it is never unnoticed – or rather, you never notice because they’re that good.

Lucy: The editorial staff at TWC are there throughout with their guidance and help, which is an extremely valuable part of the process. The guest editing and publishing experience for me has consistently been very smooth, mainly due to the editorial staff working hand in hand with the guest editors. Yes, a paper can change considerably during the process, although it does differ from paper to paper. The peer review process for TWC, in which I have been involved for a few years as a reviewer, is always a constructive one, with the feedback designed to help the author make their paper as strong and robust as it can possibly be.

One thing that authors sometimes overlook is not forging and explicitly foregrounding an argument in the introduction that unfolds throughout the article, or omitting a sturdy method section – a significant omission, as the journal stresses the importance of explaining methodology, especially if fan sources are involved. Seeing the transformation that can occur when this is revised can be a wonderful experience. Other papers may need very minor corrections, but I would say, from my experience, that very few papers are not improved to some degree by comments and suggestions from the TWC peer review process.

Amanda: In my experience as an editor and as a writer, I think this greatly depends. In some cases, essays may come in that just “sing". They are well supported, relevant, and humming along with the theme of a particular issue, and these kinds of texts can be very exciting.

Sometimes, a researcher may be on to something but may have concerns about what should be explicitly defined or what needs to be developed or detailed based on the target audience or general purpose of the text. (Actually, with a journal that focuses so broadly on fandom communities, one has to be careful; some readers may be familiar with AU fanfiction but may be lost at Live Action Role Playing (LARPing).) Then, emails and correspondence can flow back and forth and suggestions, insights into interpretation, and sometimes sharing of research or resources occurs.

All three of you (Lucy, Paul, and Amanda) are journal authors. What is it about fan culture and media studies that really speak to your muse?

Paul: Oh, this is such a complex question! When I distill fan culture and media studies to what specifically attracts me to them, it’s the sheer impact of fandom on the world. I believe that fandom is one of the most important parts of our culture, and not just because (parts of) it has been mainstreamed in the past few years. We associate fans with media texts, especially in a journal like Transformative Works and Cultures, and there’s good reason for this. Fans are visible; they cosplay, they write fiction, they make videos. 130,000 attend Comic-con. Millions use Tumblr, Twitter, or Wattpadd to meet and talk about their favorite television shows, movies, books, etc.

This is undoubtedly important. People encounter almost 15 and a half hours of media per day, which means we spend more time experiencing media than we do dreaming. Is it any wonder that our favorite media is what we choose to concentrate on? Fandom is a visible representation of this interaction, and the way that fans critique the media and try to make it better (however that is defined) is a crucial part of our media lives. Fan studies, as a way to make sense of this action, and as a way of illustrating it to others, is equally crucial in demonstrating the impact of fans in our culture.

But fandom is about more than the media, and fans represent a much more universal feeling: of positive affect, of community, of engagement, or social change. We see fandom in religious rituals, we see fandom in campfire stories, we see fandom in political engagement. The emotional pattern of fandom can be extended to the most exciting and dramatic parts of our cultural life. Fan studies allows us to contextualize, historicize, and personalize the activities of fans today, and apply that to every other aspect of our life.

The best of fans represent the best of us.

(Please note, I’m not deliberately ignoring some of the more negative aspects of fans either—studying fan antagonism helps us see discord in other areas of cultural life as well. But fandom is such a positive experience for so many people, that’s what I find so refreshing and constantly generative of ideas).

Lucy: For me, I would say the elements of fan culture that fascinates me the most are the passion and power that can be found within – two areas that can often be interlinked surrounding the fan object and affect. I hugely enjoy attempting to unravel a fan culture in order to explore its key areas, and the notions that can provoke pleasure and conflict. There is so much that can be explored within fan studies – I find it hugely inspiring.

Amanda: I am a fan myself. I love Batman, Sandman, Silent Hill, Alien… I’m excited to read/watch texts from my favorite series, and I am lucky to have a profession that allows me to explore this further. I love reading about how people react to and in fan communities. I love seeing what artists come up with to expand, redefine, or deconstruct canons. Exploring text as transformation, one always feels one is in at the ground level, even when a core text is a five hundred years old or more.

Where do you see the journal in another 20 issues? Where do you see transformative works in another seven years?

Paul: Forecasting the future is fraught with failure. That being said, I would hope that TWC is still going strong and still publishing innovative work. I’d love to still be associated with it – I don’t see that changing anytime soon! And in seven years, I think transformative works will be just as cool, innovative, and invigorating as they are now. I suspect there’ll be a new queen of social media to share them on (Tumblr…your days are numbered) but they’ll still be awesome. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Lucy: I see it still going strong – perhaps even going to more issues per year, if that would be possible! In seven years transformative works could be hugely expanded by the changes in technology (and how these tools are responded to), and also perhaps by the further integration with objects of fandom themselves. Orlando Jones (who I interviewed in 2014 with Bertha Chin for an article in TWC Vol. 17) is a compelling example of how an individual with a fandom can richly (and also sometimes controversially) engage with their online networks and communities.

Amanda: Certainly, the academic fan (acafan) is not a new phenomenon; researchers have a tendency to explore what they feel is relevant and interesting as it relates to their fields of study.

Organizations such as the Fan Studies Network have been introducing new research based communities and publications similar to the Journal of Fandom Studies, so there is an expansion of the discussion, while institutions such as the University of Iowa are also helping to ensure fanzine history is preserved by establishing archives of fan publications for future researchers and fans.

As a part of the spectrum of fan study, the journal will continue to have a place in the discussion specifically because, as I noted, it allows for fluidity and diversity in its investigations.

As to where transformative works as a field of study or field of public interest will be, that is a very broad query. Classics, characters, tropes, etc. will continue to be reconfigured; I look forward to seeing what becomes the next new thing, and what becomes popular (again).

And finally, what moment are you most proud of in your association with TWC?

Paul: I am incredibly proud of all the work I do with TWC. I think the special issue on Fandom and Performance that Lucy and I edited was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from doing it. But I think I was the most proud when I got my first article into TWC. I’m not thrilled with it now (I don’t think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done), and I’m more proud of other things I’ve done since – but at the time, publishing in TWC was a major achievement for me; it was one of my academic goals. So while I think I’ve exceeded the quality of that article in more recent work, it remains one of my proudest moments to have been accepted to Transformative Works and Cultures.

Lucy: There are two moments that really stand out for me.

Firstly, getting my article printed with them! It was my first submission to any journal, and an article based on a chapter of my PhD thesis that focused on R.E.M. fandom. The article took two rounds of peer review, and I learnt so much during that time. I almost gave up at one point, but Kristina and Karen gave me further encouragement. And I did it, and have not looked back ever since. This process was invaluable to me and my future work. Seeing the article finally published was a very proud moment and delivered me a message I would recommend to others: keep going, and don’t give up!

Secondly, the special issue on performance and performativity in fandom (Vol. 18, 2015) that I edited with Paul was another very proud moment. The original editors dropped out, and we stepped in at a very late stage. We managed to pull together a fantastic range of authors and topics in a very short time. When I stood back and viewed the final version of the issue, I was so pleased by the breadth and quality of the work within. It is always such a privilege and joy to work with Paul, so it was also a very enjoyable process. Kristina and Karen are also incredibly supportive and helpful and I feel extremely proud of the authors in that special issue. I hope for many more opportunities to work with TWC and I look forward to another twenty issues at least!

Amanda: When I was asked to peer edit an article for the journal, I was personally proud to join the role of reviewer. However, I think knowing that Transformative Works and Cultures is at its 20th issue anniversary is the greatest cause for pride.


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