Digital Icons: Digital Fandom and Media Convergence


Special Issue

Issue editors: Natalia Sokolova (Samara University) and Sudha Rajagopalan (Utrecht University)
Deadline for submission: 1 August 2012

While the history of fandom is long and storied, never before have fans (of television, cinema, games, sport or celebrities) operated in such a hypermediated environment as exists in the contemporary world. Just as cultural texts use multiple medial platforms, so too do their fans have access to and utilise this multiplicity of platforms to reify and display their commitment to the objects of their fandoms. As scholars, it is crucial to analyze digital fandom in order to understand the various processes in modern culture and the new media sphere, by virtue of fans’ active attitude to mass media, their practice of community formation and their engagement in the media industry. It is a truism, but it pays to reiterate that in this age of digital fandoms, the distinction between producers and consumers is no longer sacrosanct. Fans not only participate in debates about the media text(s) that are the objects of their fandom, but they also create cultural texts of their own—particularly, videos, fiction, games—that further the original text either by corresponding to it or deviating from it in imaginative ways.

In the years since Henry Jenkins pioneered the study of fandom, Anglo-American approaches to researching fandom have moved from a celebratory, romanticizing pitch to more measured analyses that examine the inherent tensions, particularly the politics and hierarchies, of fan communities. While these studies have investigated various aspects of (mostly) American fan cultures, this special issue of Digital Icons seeks to give fandom research in the region of Russia, Eurasia and Central Europe, a young and growing field, fresh impetus. This special issue on fandom in a new media environment invites not only textual analyses of fan production in the region, but encourages an examination of the digital affordances that engender fan practices. Further, the issue intends to address the local and transnational contexts of media production and economy in which these digital fandoms thrive.

With this in view, several questions will serve to underpin this issue: are fandoms in the region the rich participatory and democratising world of Jenkins’ vision? In what ways does fan production – art, remix videos, fiction, games – augment, reinforce or radically alter the products of media industry? To what degree are digital fandoms rooted in regional cultural traditions – can we speak of ‘global’ fandoms and if so, what does such a distinction imply? In what ways and to what extent is media convergence in the region a reality? What is the impact of fan practices on media convergence, including convergence of media platforms, convergence of consumption and production, as well as global media convergence and various transmedial phenomena? How does the media economy affect fan engagement? How do digital fandoms affect the parameters and substance of stardom and celebrity? What does digitalfandom tell us about the relationship between online and offline worlds? How do fans/audiences act as publics if/when traditional public spheres appear unstable, particularly in post-communist states? How do fans engage with history and build upon cultural memory? What impact do social media have on fans` interaction and communication? What kind of new perspectives and approaches can the researcher utilise to study digital fandom in the region? These are just some of the important inter-disciplinary questions that can serve to guide submissions.

We invite contributors from a wide range of disciplines to submit research articles and interviews, and reviews of relevant books, events, courses, platforms and projects. We also invite fans in the region to contribute meta-fandom texts, which are submissions that involve introspective, self-reflexive observations on being a fan in the region in the age of digital media.

To find out more about Digital Icons’ editorial practice and submission guidelines, visit our Information for Authors page


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2 Responses to “Digital Icons: Digital Fandom and Media Convergence”

  1. Paul Booth Says:

    Thanks for posting this! Do you have an email address or URL for where to submit abstracts or to get more information?

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