Fandom and E-lit

Something that has occurred to me is the nature of fanfiction and fandom, and how the internet has helped it flourish.

One thing that I’m starting to wonder is if all fanfiction falls within the “electronic literature” genre–certainly some works do, but they could just as easily be handwritten and distributed within an in-real-life audience. Works of fanfiction that are published and distributed online are certainly electronic in origin and intended for an electronic view, I’m sure. Now whether they count as literature is debatable, but I’m going to use ‘literature’ to mean written works, not Officially Published By Some Company and Taught In The Classroom works.

The internet has given an incomprehensible number of fans a space to come together and create works celebrating or riffing on their favourite works produced by others. Fandom and fanfiction have been around for ages, well before the era of computer technology. In fact, the first fanfiction was in a fanzine for Star Trek fan in 1967.

But more modern works of fandom include fan-made videos, or fanvids. (Hi, Spock!)

These videos are certainly electronic literature, digitally born and bred. Derivative in nature, yes, but so many creative works find their inspiration in other sources. Imitation, it could be argued, is a form of flattery. This article has some interesting things to say on the ancient art of plagiarism, for example,

All works live within a tradition, all are a mixture of originality and influence, of half-forgotten, half-digested impressions and ideas from elsewhere.

So, my question for the class in general, in a sort of broad sense (and I know this is a fairly vague blog entry) is, can we consider fanfiction, fanvids, fandom-based RPG games, etc, part of the electronic literature canon? That’s a big sticky question, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Guys, take it away.

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