As you might have guessed from last weeks post I am familiar with fandoms. I participate in making things from my favorite stories, draw pictures of characters when bored, and have dressed up for the midnight premier of movies like the Avengers. Although I have been a part of that side of fandoms I have not participated in the more literary side of fandoms. I have never written or sought out fan fiction stories, though I can see how they can be valuable learning tools.
Writing fanfiction in particular seems to have a good parallel with video games when it comes to learning. Both activities draw the fan or player in and in many cases compel them to form a community of learning as described in a New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. In the book the authors give an example of a college course where students played a video game throughout the class. In time the students were compelled to create a learning community around the game and learn deep lessons without the aid of their professor (Thomas & Brown, 2011).
Fanfiction works in much the same way. People form a deep connection with their favorite characters and worlds from books and television and are compelled to write about them. This burning desire leads them to write and possibly join a fanfiction website, where other people can read their writings and give them writing advice. In essence they create a sort of writers club that mimics the standard creative writing course, except the writers don’t write for a grade but for the love of the story.
While I haven’t ever been to a fandom event at a library I have no doubt that they help the library interact with teen artists and writers. In her essay Katie Behrens writes about hosting a fandom centered art event. Behrens said that”even if teens aren’t active in online fandoms, chances are good they’ve read something awesome lately and have that creative itch to make something” (Behrens 2012). These events can easily attract teens for some hands on learning, and isn’t that one of the biggest goals of a library?
Behrens, K. (2012). Essay: why you should pay attention to fandoms [web post]. Retrieved from http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=7618
Thomas, D. , & Brown, J. (2011). A New Culture of Learning : Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. CreateSpace.