Category Archives: Related to our readings

Yes, there is a fan studies journal

What are (what is?) fan studies, you ask?

To get some idea of what fan studies is about, and what is possible in the field, check out the recently-launched online academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures, or TWC.

TWC is an international peer-reviewed journal published by the non-profit Organization for Transformative Works. It publishes articles about “transformative works,” meaning, broadly, cultural works transformed by the individual fans and fan collectives who use and discuss them. Fan fiction, or fanfic, for example.

You can find out more by skimming the Table of Contents of their first five issues, which cover a huge range of stuff. For example, the first issue covers everything from Star Trek to Warhammer 40,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign to horror fiction to BDSM “slash” fiction to theories and practices of collective (not individual) authorship.

Not a bad site to bookmark. 🙂


Torn Clothing (analyze this!)

Torn clothing, apropos of our John Fiske reading. What’s the difference between the following?:

Torn jeans on the runway (source unknown)

Torn jeans on the runway (source unknown).

The Practice of Everyday Life: “Time Theft”

La Perruque

True or False (answer from your own perspective): When you are “at work,” you owe your employer all of your energy and attention from the time you start work to the time you leave, and everything you do while at work should serve your employer’s interests.

Do you agree? Why or why not?

Michel de Certeau discusses the ways in which workers exercise creativity on “company time,” using the term la perruque (lit., the wig) to describe this kind of rogue creativity. He presents this as an alternative to a working life that is overly rationalized, precisely regimented, controlled by corporatization, inflexible, and sterile.

On the other hand, many in the business world describe this phenomenon as “time theft” and see it in negative terms. They view time theft as a threat to productivity. So what we have here is a battle to determine how minutely workers’ time can be controlled. Here are some references from various perspectives:

1. The Urban Dictionary definition of time theft.

2. Jon Jacobs, on “Deconstructing Time Theft,” at JobsintheMoney.

3. William Atkinson on time theft, from the journal Risk Management (2006).

4. Barbara Ehrenreich on working for WalMart (2002).

5. An article on an art installation inspired by De Certeau, titled La Perruque (from a San Franciso city guide in 2001).

Happy reading! Hopefully these sources will help bring to life De Certeau’s abstract concepts.

Out of the Closet and into the Universe

Kirk and Spock, by Daniel James Cox

Apropos of our reading of Henry Jenkins’ essay on GLBT Star Trek fandom (in The Audience Studies Reader), you may find interesting this 2001 article by Jonathan Kay from discussing the relative (in)visibility of gayness in the official Trek universe.

Fandom Makes Its Own Meanings

Gay Parties in New York Attract the Superhero Crowd

Speaking of what fans can do to, or with, a text, and how texts can be put to unofficial or unexpected purposes, check out this article about superhero-themed fetish parties in New York’s GLBT community.

Or, perhaps closer to our Jenkins reading, dig this fan music video accompanying Stephen Lynch’s (warning: off-color) song “If I Were Gay”:


Richard Hoggart (1918-) is an enormously important figure in the history of cultural studies, having written the seminal book The Uses of Literacy (1957) and many other works and having founded, in 1964, the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham.

The CCCS was the wellspring of cultural studies in Britain, and has had a strong influence internationally. It operated from 1964 to 2002, when it was closed (to great controversy).

Moral Panic!

A still from The Blackboard Jungle (dir. Richard Brooks, 1955), which we'll soon be discussing in class.

A still from The Blackboard Jungle (dir. Richard Brooks, 1955), which we'll soon be discussing in class.

In 313 we’ll soon be discussing the concept of moral panic, a term used by cultural critics to describe episodes of widespread public anxiety over putatively “deviant” or “dangerous” behaviors or groups that are said to pose a threat to society.

Often young people and youth culture are the targets of moral panic, as discussed in both John Springhall’s Youth, Popular Culture and Moral Panics and James Gilbert’s A Cycle of Outrage (both of which are excerpted in our Moodle readings). We’ll be exploring this theme in upcoming classes.

The Wikipedia page on “moral panic” is unusually thorough and well-documented. Worth a look, and worth bookmarking.

Also, here is an example of something fascinating that developed fairly recently and might or might not be categorized as an instance of moral panic: the widespread reaction to an online “game” or pastime called Miss Bimbo, in which players compete to create the ultimate stereotypic “bimbo,” or idealized female figure (the link here will take you to a story in the London Times online). Yow, it’s a mind-boggler.

Finally, here’s an excerpt from the lyrics to that classic by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent” (released on Gee Records in 1957):

I’m not a juvenile delinquent



No-no-no, I’m not a juvenile delinquent

Do the things that’s right

And you’ll do nothing wrong

Life will be so nice, you’ll be in paradise

I know, because I’m not a juvenile delinquent

But listen boys and girls

You need not be blue

And life is what you make of it

It all depends on you

I know, because I’m not a juvenile delinquent

It’s easy to be good, it’s hard to be bad

Stay out of trouble, and you’ll be glad

Take this tip from me, and you will see

How happy you will be…

(Lymon, incidentally, died of a heroin overdose at age 25.)

Benjamin and the Frankfurt School

Here are some items relevant to our reading and discussion of T.W. Adorno:

1. First off, the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) supplies some useful contextual information about the so-called Frankfurt School and its best-known contributors.

Walter Benjamin

2. Secondly, a very well-known and important scholar associated with the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin, is referenced in our Adorno reading. The relevant work by Benjamin, a famed essay titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” can be found at MIA. Adorno and Benjamin are not interchangeable thinkers, but can be seen as usefully complementing if not contradicting one another.

Ways of Seeing

3. Thirdly, also in connection with Benjamin, the 1972 BBC television series Ways of Seeing (which also led to a book of the same name) was greatly inspired by the work of Benjamin, particularly the aforementioned “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Hosted and largely written by John Berger, this TV series has been very influential. Here FYI, via YouTube, is an excerpt:

The chief questions in play for our Frankfurt School scholars were, is mass culture revolutionary in its potential? And, if so, why is it so often reactionary in its effects?

Something is provided for all, so that none may escape

Courtesy of the Marxists Internet Archive (, Adorno & Horkheimer’s classic and very influential essay, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (1944), is available online.

Essential stuff for students of popular culture! Please read this ASAP.

You may also be interested in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University, where Horkheimer and Adorno began their classic work.


Fake for Real

With Ewen’s “Chosen People” essay in mind, here are some possibly related sites that I found of interest:

The consumer-oriented blogsite tells you “How to Spot a Fake Rolex.”

Some companies are proud of their replicas, or “fakes.” Take for instance the Swiss Replica Store. Or consider ReplicaEstore, which proudly claims that its replica handbags (faux Louis Vuittons, etc.) are “virtually indistinguishable from the designer originals in every way” and therefore the best replicas on the market.

Koert van Mensvoort notes that his game Fake for Real, a playful commentary on the “fakes” industry and the rage for authenticity, has been sued out of the market by…Louis Vuitton!