Fic, Anne Jamison

By a stroke of good fortune, I happened to read Joanna Russ’s feminist classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing just prior to reading Anne Jamison’s Fic (Smart Pop Books), which made for an interesting pairing. On one hand, Russ’s book feels depressingly current: You need only spend a few minutes on Twitter to witness all of the tactics for suppressing women’s writing that Russ details. But on the other hand, even with all of these tactics being leveled at the (mostly female) writers of fanfiction (especially the “poor author too pathetic and forlorn to get a man” trope), here we are talking about it in a sustained and serious way. Progress!

(Progress?)

Fic is not — as I was imagining when I picked it up — an academic text. As Jamison explains in this excellent interview at Critical Margins, she wanted to reflect the complicated relationship to authordom that you find in the world of fanfic, rather than producing a more traditional monograph. Accordingly, she includes interviews and short essays from writers of fanfiction, offering their views on fanfic communities, diversity (lack of), the ethics of monetizing, etc.

This is all very good, and I appreciate the inclusion of these voices on a theoretical level (some of them had really interesting things to say, and some not so much, sorry Amber Benson), and I wouldn’t have minded if Anne Jamison’s chapters had been twice as long in each case and if there had been twice as many as them. An academic who teaches classes in fanfiction and a writer of fic herself, Jamison’s writing style is friendly and approachable and also nicely authoritative. Like where it is extremely readable, and you also feel you are in good hands.

Because Jamison’s particular area of study is Twilight fanfiction, this book leans heavily on the Twilight end of things. Her most in-depth case studies of modern fanfic area centered in the Twilight fandom, and she has a whole section about E. L. James and the fandom’s conflicted relationship to fanfic-for-profit. If that sounds like a complaint it’s only a complaint in the sense that this book was fascinating, and I wanted it to go on being fascinating for maybe infinity chapters while offering a basis for comparative studies of different fandoms and norms and community standards.

My main criticism of the book, in brief, is that there isn’t more of it. If there were infinite books dealing with the workings of all the different online communities, I would curl up in my reading nook with all of them stacked around me and never come out again. And I certainly look forward to any scholarship Anne Jamison plans to produce on this topic in the future.

Assist me please: In the comments, if you have favorite works of fanfiction, kindly recommend them to me. I never know where to start with fanfic — there’s so much of it — so would appreciate some guidance.

  • YOU’VE OPENED THE GATES. Although I’m not sure if we share fandoms and I’m mostly a slasher which means things I like are pretty dude heavy. ANYWAY, I keep my recs here: https://pinboard.in/u:renay/t:fanfiction/ — they’ll all have fandom tags so you can browse through them. If you give me more specific fandoms I can probably help you out more. 😀

    Most of the fannish texts I’m aware of (that I haven’t read) are academic but I find TWC a huge resource for people writing about fandom and fanwork: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc 😀 😀 😀 😀

    And of course if you’re still itching for fannish meta I have more resources I can yank out but I won’t do it here because I’m afraid of scaring you away. >.>

    PS E.L. James is a huge jerk. Confirmed.

    • THANK YOU RENAY. I will look into all of what you have linked. You will never scare me away with too many resources. I love all the resources, and researching new things is the sun that rises and rises and never ever sets on my life. TELL ME ALL THE THINGS FOREVER.

      • Check out work by Karen Hellekson or Henry Jenkins, although with Jenkins his books are pretty dated. However! It’s sort of useful to see where he was coming from. His blog archives go back to 2006 and are also a great resource. fanlore.org is a fan wiki and you could probably get lost in there (lots of history!). For fannish-themed link round ups, Meta News is excellent: https://metanews.dreamwidth.org/ They’ve started including mainstream sites, too, so it’s a mix of voices.

        Get an AO3 account. Browse fandoms! Bookmark stuff! 😀 WELCOME TO FANDOM.

    • LibraryHungry

      Oh my god, Renay, I found the Veronica Mars fic on your pinboard and now I am spiraling down a rabbit hole! Thank you and heeeeelp!

      • HA HA WELCOME TO THE RABBIT HOLE. 😀

  • MumsyNK

    I was sincerely hoping that you would take this opportunity to advocate for the fanfic universe to produce some solid Darcy-loved-Wickham story arcs. DISAPPOINTED.

    • Oo, yes! Sorry about that! I wrote this post before we talked about the Darcy/Wickham thing. BUT: Anne Jamison retweeted me inquiring why there isn’t more Darcy/Wickham fic out there, and the internet said, basically, The Austen fandom is extremely weird and doesn’t do the things a regular fandom would do. So there you go.

  • For some reason, I don’t read fanfic. I just don’t seem to have the inclination to do it, I guess. Which is sad, because I like the idea of taking a fictional world and expanding it.

    This book sounds fascinating. I have been reading a lot about feminism lately and this book (and its pairing) are going on my list.

  • LibraryHungry

    I fell very, very deep into fanfic for the first time in the past month. Like never read it before, and then I haven’t finished any novels in the past month because I’ve been reading only book length fanfiction. I’m not sure if I can give recommendations, though–I feel like what you’re looking for and what your fandoms are is pretty personal. I’m mostly a Buffy girl.

    • I like Buffy! Share your best Buffy fic recs pleeeeeease! 😀

      • LibraryHungry

        Okay, then–like I said, I just jumped into this like a month ago, and I’ve been digging through Elysian Fields pretty extensively. I think my favorite–which is like huge book-length–was West of the Moon, East of the Sun (I can’t link to it, because it’s NC-17, but you can search by title). I downloaded it to my Kindle and read it in a weekend. I also loved This Thing We Have (http://dark-solace.org/elysian/viewstory.php?sid=4225).

        I read a lot of stuff tied to the comics; I could go on and on (and on) if you are into those!

  • !!! Then, Jenny, you would adore Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers. It’s an academic text, but it’s all about pre-Internet fandom and how they did their thing. And so is Star Trek Lives!, that’s all about old-school Trek fandom… and Fanlore! Have you spent any time on Fanlore? I LEARN SO MUCH EVERY TIME! I can GO ON.

    I tend to gorge on fic myself; I’ll consume something and then go off to look for fic and then I get whiny when it’s not what I want and then I don’t write it. So my recommendation is to start with a fandom and go looking for fic. I know AO3 lets you sort by comments and kudos, which is a good way to find popular fics, and then you can usually shop around by author and the like. tumblr is also a great, if terribly disorganized, resource. Although LiveJournal was not much better…

    • Although if you haven’t read the marvelously meta “Steve Rogers at 100”, you are missing OUT.

    • Hmmmmm, okay. I am less immediately interested in pre-internet fandom, but okay! I will give it a try and see, because I trust you!

      Also, yep, I have been sorting things by kudos and comments on AO3, and it has produced some excellent things for me. But I am mostly looking for fandoms where I’m already into those ships, so I super much like to hear recommendations for other people’s favorite fics, maybe in fandoms I wouldn’t think to visit.

      • Fair enough! Most internet fandom stuff will be found on Fanlore… although there is also Harry, a History, Melissa Anelli’s book about Potter fandom from her perspective as webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron.

  • Jeanne

    I did mention the golden Darcy/Wickham fic idea to Eleanor. She publishes her fanfic at http://archiveofourown.org/

  • Oh, Austen fandom. Yep. Weird. It’s mostly because Austen is in the Public Domain, so people who normally would be fic authors are self-published novelists instead ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    But now I want to read Darcy/wickham forever, damn it.

    My favorite fic of all time was a Marauders Era gigantic beast composed of letters and notes and photographs and illustrations and probably like a million other stuff. It was never finished, though (which I’m okay with, considering I know how that story ends and I’m perfectly happy never reading it again *sobs*). It’s called The Shoebox Project and an epub/mobi copy can be downloaded here: http://shoebox.lomara.org/
    (also, when describing the story, the authors wrote “Don’t worry; Peter won’t be stupidified”, and I’ll love them forever just for that)

    • YES I have read that and I liked it a lot. I was sad it never finished cause I would just have been curious how SHE ended that story. And I much appreciated that Peter wasn’t made into an idiot.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    Ooh this sounds good. I haven’t read any fan fiction before but last year the husband read a novel-length Harry Potter fanfic and loved it. He still talks about it now and then as he is re-listening to all of the HP books. Can’t remember the title though. I can find out if you are interested.