Stalking the fan : locating fandom in modern life
The thesis begins by acknowledging the writer's status as a fan. The stimulus for the enquiry emerges from the discrepancy the writer encounters between his fan experience and the ways in which the academy conceptualises fandom. Such theories serve to position the fan at extremes of the field of reader response: as either a passive, cultural dupe or as a radical, textual freedom fighter. By contrast, this thesis aims to take the diversity of fan response into consideration, and situate its analysis in very real concepts of people's lives. In the first of three parts, a typology is developed that examines the contested and disputed nature of fandom. Reference points are drawn from academic writing, popular media and a focus group session with fans of diverse interests. The second part is devoted to fieldwork. Fan conversations, observations and reflections are combined to create six intimate pen-portraits that convey differing ideas of fandom. Topics covered include fans of Doctor Who, The Adventure Game, Sheffield Wednesday football club; the users of archive TV website The Mausoleum Club; attendees at a Kirsty MacColl get-together;Panopticon( a Doctor Who convention); Forbidden Planet (a collector's shop). The final part, `Fandom and Modem Life', draws together the ideas of the thesis to propose a series of maxims on how fandom operates that emphasise complexity, diversity, the significance of emotional attachment, and fandom's interrelation to capitalism (of it, but not about it). Fandom's role is considered in relation to notions of religiosity and sexuality. Fandom is defined ultimately as a form of social identity possible in contemporary western society. The thesis concludes by speculating on how fandom may evolve in the future.