Fans and Fandom

Instructor(s): Megan Abrahamson

Course Description

Fanfiction is, by one definition, a text dependant on a pre-existing canon of events and characters in an “original” source, but it is nevertheless highly debatable where “fanfic” ends and “original” material begins. In today’s popular culture, we are bombarded by the fact that very little is “original” anymore: depending on who you ask, there are as few as seven “original” plotlines in existence. In terms of the wider literary world, fanfic shares fluid borders with “remakes,” “re-imaginings,” or even “allegories,” and “allusions.” Fandom is an even more pervasive social phenomenon, whereby non-creators and non-originators (“fans”) of any form of entertainment become participants and, in effect, partial owners of a text. Students will explore the fluidity of these concepts of who owns a text in the face of copyright legislation, definitions of intellectual property, and freedom of information. Ultimately students will be encouraged to form their own conclusions and definitions of what it means to be a fan and a conscientious consumer in the information age, and also how to define the boundary between derivative and original material.


As this is a study of fans and fan works, much of the content will be drawn from online sources. We will read derivative fan-fiction and view fanworks available through sites such as,,, and Some of the professionally published primary sources we may look at include: Selections from Beowulf and Grendel Selections from Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies US Copyright, Fair Use, and Intellectual Property Laws Statements from published authors regarding fanfiction, including Diane Duane, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Joss Whedon


Films: Galaxy Quest Ringers: Lord of the Fans Episodes from Supernatural, Futurama, Family Guy Selected scholarship on fandoms and fanfiction will be made available through a course reader.


3 analytic papers (two 5-7 pages, and one 10-12 pages), 1 creative project (fanwork), 1 oral presentation (15-20 minutes long), weekly electronic exercises, attendance and active class participation.

About the Instructor(s): Megan Abrahamson

Megan Abrahamson is an Honors alumna, holding a BA in English and History and an MA in English with a concentration in medieval studies. She has published “J.R.R. Tolkien, Fanfiction, and ‘The Freedom of the Reader.’”