Refracted Input

Clare O’Farrell’s blog on books, TV, films, Michel Foucault, universities etc. etc.

Rebecca W. Black. (2008). Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies). New York: Peter Lang.
My rating: ***

Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies) Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction by Rebecca W. Black

This book uses current educational theory to discuss adolescent fan fiction. The book is useful in that it attempts to argue for the importance of fan fiction as an educational tool in promoting literacy. It also points out the fundamental discordances between the way knowledge is structured and delivered in schools and the way fan writing and communities work. However some of the characterisations of what is happening in schools are perhaps a little old fashioned – but this might in fact be a reflection of what is occurring in American classrooms and as such does not necessarily apply outside the USA.

Unfortunately the author only offers rather vague suggestions as to how teachers might work with fan fiction and their students. It could indeed be done but would require teachers who were very experienced and knowledgeable in terms of how fandoms, media technology and social networking operate.

But this is definitely a start. Fandom and fan fiction have been highly stigmatised, and given fan fiction is the fastest growing type of writing in the world today it is good to see some recognition from the educational sector of this form of literary engagement.

For extended discussions on how fan reading and practices might be harnassed in an educational setting see Henry Jenkins’ blog Confessions of an aca-fan.

5 thoughts on “Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction

  1. justincaynon says:

    This is a really old post, I know. But its very nice to read that someone had this idea.


  2. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Comments on old posts are most welcome!


  3. justincaynon says:

    Well you’re welcome. I didn’t realize anyone in education had the forward thought to make something that used fan fiction to teach. No doubt there is some fear of backlash legally for it. But I support any efforts made to bring Fan Fiction into the lime light and make it something at least semi-respected again.


  4. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Justin, I use fan fiction techniques myself to teach teacher trainees in a couple of the courses I run. I find the students respond really well as it gives them a starting point for their creative and imaginative processes and helps them to understand the source texts a lot better. I don’t think one needs to worry about legal problems if the source text is simply a spring board for further creative processes and the students’ work is not being published! After all, ‘fan fiction’ even if it is not described as such is arguably a very old literary form. Even Shakespeare used it! PD James’ latest book could perhaps even be described as Jane Austen fan fiction.


  5. justincaynon says:

    That’s true. Still I find it nice that someone has found some use for it.


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