Spaces of Fanfiction
What is fanfiction? Essentially, fanfiction is a piece of literary writing which bases its world building, characters, or other elements on an existing piece of work in order to expand upon or transform its story and themes. For instance, an author of fanfiction (also called fanfic or just fic) can continue a character’s story twenty years after the end of the original, imagine a previously unknown romance between characters, or rewrite an unsatisfying ending. Fanfiction is an old practice, but it has grown massively on the internet and on its various dedicated platforms (Ao3, Fanfiction.net, Wattpad …) where millions of fics have been published. Despite being an initially often depreciated form of writing, fanfic has increasingly gained formal recognition in recent years, especially with the Ao3 platform’s collective win of the Hugo Award, a prestigious science fiction and fantasy award, in 2019. In recent years, it has also become more and more common for writers and creators of the original works to interact with this literary form.
The roundtable will explore the complex status of fanfics as both a space for creative freedom and the reproduction of existing codes, patterns, and ideas. It will bring together authors and researchers from several fields to discuss the construction of specific literary codes and tropes, practices of online sociability, and the writers’ relationship with the authors of the source material. Another focus will be on fanfiction as a mainly young and feminine practice that can be studied as a juvenile subculture. Last but not least, in terms of representations, the presenters will discuss fanfic’s ability to fill representational gaps or to correct representations considered inadequate by minority groups.
The event is part of the series Spielräume der Gegenwartsliteratur organized by the research project Neighborhood in Contemporary Berlin Literature at the ZfL, which is held between April and June in cooperation with various partners in Berlin.