Inquiry Project BETA DRAFT

Problems I know about:

  • I know it’s under the word count. Feedback on what bits could see fleshing out would be much appreciated, but I’m definitely glad I narrowed my topic.
  • Needs formal citations…or does it? Do we need a formal APA citation page?

Anyways, any help on those fronts would be much appreciated, as well as help on fronts unforeseen.

My writing voice

A number of Chinese fanfiction authors were recently arrested for distribution of pornography. In South Korea, posting some types of fanfiction can mean having all internet access revoked. Fanfiction authors have had their works used as ammunition against them in child custody cases, as if their hobby somehow renders them unfit parents.

Despite the personal risk, authors continue to publish. And yet the mainstream opinion of fanfiction is that it is at best, a frivolous, poorly-written waste of time and at worst, a dirty secret, like a pornography addiction or picking your nose. Mentions of fanfiction in the media generally run from dismissive to scornful.

“So as long as there are unfulfilled women who are also geeks, I think there will always be Slash Fic. It’s here to stay, I’m afraid, no matter how awful it may be.” Eric Diaz for Geekscape

I’m trying to strike a balance between formal and casual in my writing. My everyday speaking style gets pretty formal at times, which is complicating things.

Blog Real Estate Search

I’m not super jazzed about the platform, but I think Weebly will do well for my project. It’s simple, streamlined, and functional for my purposes. I considered other pages like WordPress, or even using my Tumblr. But WordPress seems like a lot of site for not a lot of content in this case, and I’d rather keep a healthy separation between my Tumblr and my real life. I’m fiddling around with a site now. I’ve saved fanficsandfeminism as a URL.

Research Trends

To finish my Research Trends post, I picked the eight articles that had stood out to me the most, then made a list of things I knew occurred throughout them. I modified a little as I went through (added one category, took another away, split another into two), skimming each article and marking when it mentioned one of the trends. Here is my final result:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 3.30.00 PM

Research Nugget #7

Lantagne, S. M. (2011). The Better Angels of Our Fanfiction: The Need for True and Logical Precedent. Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal (Comm/Ent)33(2), 159-180.
Accessed here.

At some point, sampling the music of others became a respected and acceptable technique for a musical artist. This shift has not happened in the world of fanfiction. This Article does not argue whether fanfiction should be considered fair use. Indeed, such a blanket proclamation is largely impossible, due to the case-by-case nature of the fair use doctrine. However, this Article does argue that the emotional arguments often used to support the illegality of fanfiction actually weigh in favor of fanfiction on the fair use analysis. This Article argues that a true fanfiction court case is necessary to help strip from the topic the heated emotions that it provokes. Part I examines the purposes of copyright law and the lack of a moral aspect to the law. Part II discusses the relevant precedents on the subject of fair use. Part III analyzes the emotional arguments raised against fanfiction. Part IV argues that a true fanfiction precedent will be useful to establish parameters and provide some rough guidelines as to the important factors on which to dwell when debating fanfiction.

This article discusses the legality of fanfiction under the Fair Use doctrine and in compares it to the legal status of sampling and remixing in music. It also mentions the general negative reaction to fanfiction and compares them with the mixed reactions to music sampling.

The fair use doctrine, a flexible four-factor test, protects use of copyrighted materials in order to ensure that copyright does not “stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster.”  Codified by a section of statute titled “limitations on exclusive rights,” the doctrine directs inquiry into (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fair use doctrine must be applied to the facts of each individual case.  As the Supreme Court has warned, “the task is not to be simplified with bright-line rules,” and courts must always keep in mind “the purposes of copyright.”

It also discusses almost-cases of fanfiction that have reached the courts, such as 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, a sequel to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and The Wind Done Gone, a sequel to Gone with the Wind. The author then goes on to discuss some of the emotional arguments for and against fanfiction, such as that it is unreal, requires the author’s permission, should only involve works in the public domain, that characters are akin to authors’ children, and that fanfiction is not real writing and aesthetically displeasing.

The author concludes that while not all fanfiction is fair use, not all of it infringes upon copyright, and that none of it is “immoral.”

I felt it was important for me to address the legality of fanfiction in my discussion, since it’s something that often comes up and a question I haven’t bothered to look into just yet.

Concept Experience #6

1. It has been shown through research that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. If you see more positive posts than negative posts, then you start posting more positive posts as well.

This passage is vague and nonspecific in a very Buzzfeed-esque way. The references to “research” don’t tell you very much, and having both links in that same sentence feels asymmetrical and makes the second sentence seem unnecessary, when in fact, it’s not.

2. There have been studies done on Facebook and all the emotions related to posts. “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

Here, the signal phrases aren’t all that related to the article in question. The hyperlinked words should be almost a summary of what the article they link to is about.

3. Researchers in a new study have found that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. They found enough data to show that “emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

Here, there’s not enough information linked to. It links an article about the study, but not the study itself. Like #1 and #2, it also fails to cite the source of the information.

4. In a new study, researchers from University of California, San Diego have found that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. Publishing a paper in the journal PLOS ONE, the team analyzed over a billion anonymous status updates from more than 100 million Facebook subscribers across the United States and found that positive posts beget positive posts and negative posts beget negative posts. They said that while both are common on the site, the positive posts are more influential. They concluded, “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

The main difference between #3 and #4 is how #4 names the source of the information in the article, rather than referring to “researchers” and “a new study.” The full article names the journal the study was published in as well as where the research was done.

Throughout the article, LeBlond links to other pages using signal phrases that a reader might want to know more about. The links tend to come at the ends of sentences, so as not to interrupt the flow of reading. Where there is a quote, the link to the source comes immediately after, almost like an in-text citation.

Research Nugget #6.2

After some confusion, I realized that the assignments for July 14 and July 11 were both called Research Nugget #6, though they are two separate assignments. So I titled this one to make it more clear which came first.

For most of recorded history, the interactions of humans with their media have been primarily nonconversational and passive in the sense that marks on paper, paint on walls, even “motion” pictures and television, do not change in response to the viewer’s wishes. A mathematical formulation—which may symbolize the essence of an entire universe—once put down on paper, remains static and requires the reader to expand its possibilities.

This passage stood out to me as it relates to my topic largely with its mention of “non-conversational and passive” interaction with media. It reminded me of my research nugget #3 quote about the difference between “affirmational” and “transformational” fandom, and got me thinking about how “transformational” fandom is entirely a child of the internet age. While it debatably existed prior to the internet, it didn’t become so widespread until presently.

It also reminded me of the Firefly fandom, which you can find an essay about here. The short story is that fans of a show cancelled after one season successfully campaigned for their show to get a wide-release film sequel. Something similar happened to Arrested Development, which was cancelled after three seasons, then picked up ten years later by Netflix for a fourth season and upcoming movie.

If you don't get these in-jokes, it is imperative that you open Netflix immediately.
If you don’t get these in-jokes, it is imperative that you open Netflix immediately.

I wonder if passive fandom isn’t becoming a thing of the past and giving way to transformational, or at least active, fandom. There’s definitely a much shorter distance between creator and fan nowadays. It will be interesting to watch how that will continue to affect the creative end.

Research Nugget #6

Lothian, A., Busse, K., & Reid, R. (2007). “YEARNING VOID AND INFINITE POTENTIAL”: ONLINE SLASH FANDOM AS QUEER FEMALE SPACE. English Language Notes45(2), 103-111.
Accessed here.

For us, slash fandom has become a place where a young urban dyke shares erotic space with a straight married mom in the American heartland, and where women whose identity markers suggest they would find few points of agreement have forged erotic, emotional, and political alliances. We do not wish to make excessive claims for the radical diversity of a space dominated by middle-class, educated, liberal, English-speaking, white North American women. Nevertheless, our own experiences in this virtual sphere suggest there is something interesting, and queer, going on here. We are variously lesbian and bisexual and straight, married and partnered and single, American and German and Scottish, generationally, economically, and geographically divided. Though we are all feminists, all engaged with academia in some form, and all white women currently located in the United States, we probably would never have engaged with one another if not for the virtual spaces of online fandom. Nor would we have encountered the other participants whose ideas shape this paper, and about whom we prefer not to divulge detailed personal information. In a pseudonymous online culture, participants are judged on textual contributions alone, although it is important to remember that — just as the apparently democratic nature of the Internet is constrained by economic barriers to access — cultural capital evident in these texts unavoidably conditions our perceptions.

This article utilizes an online discussion between fandom participants to apply queer theory to the slash fanfiction community. They discuss how online fandom can be the only queer spaces some people have access to, and highlight that online connections are no less real.

They also review prior analyses of slash. They remark that while the other answers hold water, it’s also worth noting that slash conveniently sidesteps heteronormativity, which can be a refreshing change for readers. That explanation also allows for the existence of lesbian and bisexual slash fans.

Slash fans have been the focus of several academic studies since the 1980s. Such analyses, as well as discussions within slash fan communities, usually seek to explain why women would write sexually explicit fiction about male homosexual relations. Answers vary both within and outside fan communities, but most can be placed into a few categories. Cultural approaches argue that few female role models are available in media texts, or that, if they are, their overdetermination for female viewers complicates or even prohibits identification;[8] textual approaches suggest that fans respond to shows’ homosocial or homoerotic overtones;[9] feminist readings offer same-sex relationships as models for a more equal relationship;[10] psychoanalytic analyses address the fact that women can be and desire both subjects within a given pairing, thus offering a wider variety of identificatory options;[11] and sexual approaches (often the default response by fans themselves) foreground the object status of male stars who become sexual objects in the female fannish gaze where “one hot guy’s good; two hot guys are better.”

They also discuss whether or not queer identity is a necessary prerequisite for participation in queer spaces. The conversation delves further into the ways that participation in online slash allows a blurring of lines between “queer” and “not queer,” and how “queer” is less of an on/off switch and more of a sliding scale.

Not all slash fans identify as queer, but this space provides room for people to queer their identities. Queerness isn’t a mandate here — it’s an open possibility.

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