Tag: fan fiction

Tarkovsky on art

Sculpting in TimeSculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrey Tarkovsky (1989) Sculpting in Time. Reflections on the Cinema. Translated from the Russian by Kitty Hunter-Blair, University of Texas Press.
My rating: *****

Publisher’s page. Includes table of contents and extract.

I want to underline my own belief that art must carry man’s craving for the ideal, must be an expression of his reaching out towards it; that art must give man hope and faith. And the more hopeless the world in the artist’s vision, the more clearly perhaps must we see the ideal that stands in opposition to it – otherwise life becomes impossible!

I have been reading Tarkovsky’s truly wonderful book in which he reflects on and explains the thinking that went into his films. If some of the language in the citation above, with its mention of the ideal, hope and faith appears old-fashioned to hardened veterans of the new millennium, it would appear nonetheless, as Tarkovsky argues, that life is still impossible without these things. Having recently viewed a TV series, Spirited, which after the long and careful establishing of two strong and independent characters with a positive control over their own existences, suddenly in the last three episodes, opts to turn them into the pathetic victims of a cruel and heartless universe, his remarks seem very apposite.

Faced in this case with what essentially appears to be a radical loss of faith and hope by the writers in their own creation, the consumer, who feels betrayed by this loss, is left wondering which way to turn. Perhaps this is the experience of many fan fiction writers. (Just to be specific, this is not an art form that I personally practise). And indeed not just fan fiction writers, but a whole range of other creative practitioners. They are forced into creating their own story to make up for the failure of other texts in providing the ideal they were hoping for. Thus in some instances, they might actively engage, as Tarkovsky would have it, in opposing the hopelessness of particular artistic visions.

One could take this further and argue that in Lyotard’s postmodern world, everybody is looking for the perfect story and when they don’t find one ready-made, they are forced to create their own. This applies as much to the most esoteric flight of theory as to the trashiest piece of fan fiction. It applies to a range of other practices as well – including the political, and right down to the way people tell themselves the story of their own lives. This desire to create one’s own story is, of course, by no means simply limited to the so-called postmodern age or culture. As many have argued, the desire to tell and to consume story is something deeply embedded in human experience. Story is not simply about diversion, bread and circuses, the mindless ‘entertainment’ much touted by Hollywood and its ilk. Story is about imagining better (or worse) worlds, of reflecting on our everyday and the possibilities of human experience, and experimenting with different ways of thinking those possibilities.

The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context

Sheenagh Pugh, The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context. Bridgend: Seren, 2005.
My rating: ****

The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context by Sheenagh Pugh

This book offers an excellent and sympathetic overview of fan fiction as a literary form. The author uses material from both media and literary fandoms as illustrations, including The Bill, Discworld, Blakes 7, Hornblower and Jane Austen. The book is eminently readable and a great resource for anyone wishing to learn about the practices of fan fiction communities.

The author is a poet, novelist, critic and translator and teaches creative writing at the University of Glamorgan in Wales.

Fan Fiction and Fan Communities

Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse (eds.) 2006. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.

My rating: ***

Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet My review
Quite interesting with some useful if rather rushed definitions of the some of the jargon used by fan fiction writers in the introduction. A large proportion of the articles in this edited collection are about slash. Slash represents, in terms of volume, the smallest section of fan fiction but it is one that academics gravitate towards with a passion – all that transgression and interesting deviance to wax theoretical over!

Annoyingly I have had to link to Wikipedia again but it does include the most comprehensive and easily accessible set of online references concerning slash.

Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction

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.