Fan fiction as world-building: transformative reception in crossover writing

continuum coverFan fiction as world-building: transformative reception in crossover writing

Natalia Samutina

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies

Volume 30, Issue 4, 2016


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This article contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms and functions of imaginary world-building in contemporary popular culture, introducing the perspective of active transformative reception, which is the perspective of fan fiction writers and readers. The author argues that contemporary fan fiction as a postmodern literary field and ‘fictional anthropology’ is much broader in its transformative capabilities than it is believed even in fan studies, in particular in relation to world-building. She takes as an example Russian Harry Potter fan fiction and pays special attention to the production and reception of such fan fiction genre as crossover. Analysis of texts of this genre and a survey conducted in the Russian Harry Potter online community let her come to the conclusion that this transformative activity of contemporary fandoms in virtual worlds blurs all the lines between different types of sub-creators and undermines the traditional preconceptions of how imaginary worlds can be built, inhabited and developed.