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Fan Fiction, Fan Practices & Language Learning

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Keynote for the 15th annual Technology and Second Language Learning conference (TSLL) at Iowa State University.

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Fan Fiction, Fan Practices & Language Learning

  1. 1. Fan Fiction, Fan Practices & Language Learning Shannon Sauro Malmö University @shansauro l l
  2. 2. “A fan is a person with a relatively deep positive emotional conviction about someone or something famous...” (Duffet, 2013, p. 18) Photo credit: Sake Jager
  3. 3. Online fandom: “the local and international networks of fans that develop around a particular program, text or other media product” (Sauro, 2014, p. 239)
  4. 4. CALL in the Digital Wilds “informal language learning that takes places in digital spaces, communities, and networks that are independent of formal instructional contexts” (Sauro & Zourou, 2017, p. 186)
  5. 5. A Few Fan Practices • Anime and manga consumption • Fan site web design • Debating and modding • Amateur translation • Spoiling • Fanfiction (Sauro, 2017) Art: Foxestacado
  6. 6. Anime consumption inspired and enhanced Japanese learning which inspired further engagement with Japanese anime (Fukunaga, 2006)
  7. 7. How a fan and L2 learner of English developed a new textual identity through regular correspondence in English around the design of a fan website for a Japanese pop singer. (Lam, 2000)
  8. 8. The advanced leadership and academic literacy skill development of a 13- year-old engaged in debate and moderating discussions in online forums and fan sites. (Curwood, 2013) Art: pennswoods
  9. 9. The development and use of intercultural and L2 language skills of a Spanish manga fan who engaged in amateur translations (scanlation) of Japanese manga from English into Spanish in an online fan community. (Valero-Porras & Cassany, 2015) Figure 2 (Valero-Porras & Cassany, 2015, p. 11)
  10. 10. Spoiling “…the purposeful discovery of crucial developments in the plot of a fictional story of a film or TV series before the relevant material has been broadcast or released.” (Duffett, 2013, p. 168)
  11. 11. Case Study of a Sherlock Fan To explore the informal L2 language learning and digital literacy development of a Sherlock fan.
  12. 12. Steevee’s Fan History 2009 • Joined Supernatural Fandom • Joined Twitter; Created a fan FB page 2010 • Joined Torchwood and Doctor Who fandoms • Created a fan Tumblr 2012 • Joined Sherlock fandom 2013 • Began reporting on filming of Sherlock #setlock Art: Foxestacado
  13. 13. Extramural English “…English-related activities that learners come in contact with or are engaged in outside the walls of the English classroom, generally on a voluntary basis.” (Sundqvist & Sylvén, 2014, p. 4)
  14. 14. “As we have noted, motivation is never simply in the hands of the motivated individual learner but is constructed and constrained through social relations with others” (Ushioda, 2008, p. 157) Art: Foxestacado
  15. 15. I tried to shift my accent from American English to British English. I tried to learn to write colour with ‘ou’ and so on. And I started to watch Doctor Who and Torchwood. Those were my next two big fandoms. (Interview, 14 December 2015) …it was the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the English language. That was it for me. I was so stoked. I’m going to get online and I’m going to talk to people and learn English. And I’m going to learn new words. And I used to sit there with a notepad next to Twitter and write down words I’d never seen before, look them up, learn them. (Interview, 14 December 2015) Art: Foxestacado
  16. 16. The non-native speakers are really the lose canon because they might understand something incorrectly because of their own lack of knowledge of the English language or sarcasm or whatever is being used as a metaphor for example. (Interview, 14 December 2015) Art: Foxestacado
  17. 17. Due to the massive increase of hits and followers due to setlock, I somehow became someone who was consulted on various things and I realized that if I wanted to help/give answers etc, I’d have to make myself understood in the way I wanted to be – that’s when my answers got longer and more in-depth, as I wanted to make sure my arse was covered XD (Email, 7 January 2016) Art: Foxestacado
  18. 18. “Fanfiction is a story written by a person in the fandom because breaking into the creator’s office and telling them that everything that they did is wrong and rewriting it is considered ´rude´ and ´illegal´” (Fan definition reported in Klink, 2017) Art: Foxestacado
  19. 19. Case studies of ESL learners’ use of fanfiction in anime fandoms to transition from novice writer in English to successful writer, and the bilingual fanfiction writing practices of Finnish fans of American TV shows to index multilingualism and global citizenship. (e.g. Black, 2006; Lepännen et al, 2009) Art: pennswoods
  20. 20. The Blogging Hobbit: A collaborative story of a missing moment from The Hobbit: • Story outline and map • Collaborative roleplay fanfiction - each group member to write from the perspective of one character from the novel • Reflective paper (Sauro & Sundmark, 2016)
  21. 21. “this writing activity has influenced my language skills…. During this project I have been able to expand my repertoar [sic] of English words which are not so commonly used in everyday English anymore.” (Sauro & Sundmark, 2016, p. 420 )
  22. 22. It is lying still, yet it spins around It tries to move but its body is bound All because of the precious it stole Fool us again and they eats it whole. (from The Mirkwood Mysteries; Sauro & Sundmark, 2016, p. 418)
  23. 23. Learner Fanfiction (172,911) • N=31 stories produced by Cohorts 2013 & 2014 • 2000-16000 words each • Rated Teen • Gen • Canon compliant Ao3 Fanfiction (92,760) • N=18 stories posted Dec 1 2013 – Jan 31, 2015 • 2000-16000 words each • Rated Teen • Gen (no het or slash) • Not alternate universe or other sub-genres
  24. 24. Top 10 Content Lexemes in Classroom Fanfiction Top 10 Content Lexemes in Online Fanfiction Thorin Bilbo Gandalf Dwarves Say Kili Time Fili Think Bombur Thorin Kili Bilbo Say Thranduil Eyes Time Head Fili Brother
  25. 25. Keywords Third Person Plural Pronouns: we, our, us Character Names: Gandalf, Beorn, Balin, Elrond, Gollum, Dori, Bombur, Bilbo Species: dwarves, goblins, wizard, elves
  26. 26. Negative Keywords Third person singular pronouns: she, her, his, him Kinship terms: son, sister, mother, brother, uncle Character names: Thranduil, Legolas, Tauriel, Bifur Contracted forms: d, s, re, t
  27. 27. “…fanfics that get really popular, they kind of answer to some kind of fantasy that people have about the characters. Or something they really want to explore or they create an alternate universe … We didn’t have anything like that, really. I mean, I think ours was very, kind of, very much like the book it a way, so maybe it wasn’t as exciting as some other fanfiction because it wasn’t innovating in that way…” B, Dream Team Interview (Cohort 2014)
  28. 28. “I felt it unfair to work with The Hobbit on such a project since a big part was to connect with a character from the book and write from that perspective. To choose a book with absolutely no women at all made me not wanting to take neither Tolkien nor this assignment to heart.” (Student Reflection, Cohort 2014)
  29. 29. “A challenge is an organized activity in which participants agree to perform or produce fan activities or fanworks according to some pre- determined criteria.“ • Gift exchanges Secret Santa, ficathon • Prompt-based Fests, games, battles • Other Big Bangs, charity drives (“Challenge”, n.d.)
  30. 30. “…restorying can also characterize the complex ways that contemporary young people narrate the word and the world... In other words, as young readers imagine themselves into stories, they reimagine the very stories themselves, as people of all ages collectively reimagine time, place, perspective, mode, metanarrative, and identity through retold stories...” (Thomas & Stornaiuolo, 2016, p. 323)Figure 1. Forms of Restorying (Thomas & Stornaiuolo, 2016, p. 319)
  31. 31. “Racebent characters have long been making appearances on sites like Tumblr, but they’ve been picking up heat recently. One of the most popular and frequent, at least on my dash? Hermione Granger as a woman of color, most often black.” What a “Racebent” Hermione Granger Really Represents (Bennett, 2015) Art: mariannewiththesteadyhands (in Bennett, Feb 1, 2015)
  32. 32. A Study in Sherlock: Collaborative mystery writing with a challenge 1. Retell a Sherlock Holmes mystery or tell an original mystery but in an alternate universe. 2. Tell an original Sherlock Holmes mystery in the original context. Instructions available in PDF here
  33. 33. “See here” Sherlock said pointing to the small screen, “I have had a google alert set up for these certain phrases ever since I took a small interest in the Ms. Al-Farsi-case, relating to racial violence in the Malmö area.…” “Islamophobiacs who fear everyone and everything they can’t buy at Ullared” scoffed John. “Yes, well, not quite” replied Sherlock. “The people behind the avatars on this particular site is not your average, uneducated riffraff pointing fingers at anyone who doesn’t share their love of meatballs.” A Study in Brown (Cohort 2016) A Study in Graffiti (Cohort 2016)
  34. 34. “Well, now I bother. Now and again a case turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to bustle about and see things with my own eyes. Because obviously, Oswald was not the murderer,” he said as if it was the most blatant fact in the world. The Missing Case (Cohort 2016)
  35. 35. “…my interest in Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes world is still at an intermediate level…. On the other hand, my knowledge of the Scooby Doo universe is far greater and I could enter that verse much easier than the universe of Sherlock Holmes. As a child I loved the characters of the Mystery Gang and therefore I really enjoyed this task.” (Student 18, Cohort 2015)
  36. 36. “…instead of saying “he said”, we and Doyle instead used “said he”. Second, we and Doyle often, from Watson’s perspective, referred to Sherlock Holmes as “my colleague”, and from Sherlock’s perspective referring to Watson as “my friend”. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes often said “pray” instead of “please”, and “I fancy” instead of “I believe”, which we also used in our fanfiction. “ (Student 16, Cohort 2015) Art: Foxestacado
  37. 37. “First off, I am highly Americanized in my English use, and I blame Hollywood. It has been a welcomed challenge to write in British. My biggest inspiration has once again been the BBC show.…I truly enjoyed using the word ‘foggiest’ in a text, and it is now a part of my vocabulary. My American is being invaded, ‘the British are coming!’” (Student 54, Cohort 2015) Art: Foxestacado
  38. 38. Acknowledgements Graphics Fox Estacado of The Art of Fox Estacado: Fine Fan Art and Geekery ( All rights reserved and used in this presentation with permission. Pennswoods All rights reserved and used in this presentation with permission. Photographs of #setlock Shannon Sauro.
  39. 39. References Bennett, A. (2015, February 1). What A "Racebent" Hermione Granger really represents. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from alannabennett/what-a-racebent-hermione-granger-really-represen-d2yp?utm_term=.whRP7G78P#.ooKogjg4o Black, R.W. (2006). Language, culture, and identity in online fanfiction. E-learning, 3, 180–184. “Challenge”. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Fanlore Wiki: Curwood, J.S. (2013). Fan fiction, remix culture, and The Potter Games. In V.E. Frankel (Ed.), Teaching with Harry Potter (pp. 81-92). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Duffett, M. (2013). Understanding fandom: An introduction to the study of media fan culture. New York/London: Bloomsbury. Fukunaga, N. (2006). “Those anime students”: Foreign language literacy development through Japanese popular culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 206-222. Klink, F. (2017). Towards a definition of “fanfiction”. Retrieved from Lam, W. S. E. (2000). Literacy and the design of the self: A case study of a teenager writing on the Internet. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 457-484. Lepännen, S., Pitkänen-Huhta, A., Piirainen-Marsch, A., Nikula, T., & Peuronen, S. (2009). Young people’s translocal new media uses: A multiperspective analysis of language choice and hetero-glossia. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 1080–1107. Sauro, S. (2017). Online fan practices and CALL. CALICO Journal, 34(2), 131-146. doi: 10.1558/CJ.33077 Sauro, S. (2014). Lessons from the fandom: Task models for technology-enhanced language learning. In M. González-Lloret & L. Ortega (Eds). Technology- mediated TBLT: Researching technology and tasks, (pp. 239-262). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Sauro, S., & Sundmark, B. (2016,) Report from Middle Earth: Fanfiction tasks in the EFL classroom. ELT Journal, 70(4), 414-423 . doi: 10.1093/elt/ccv075 Sauro, S., & Zourou, K. (2017). CALL for papers for CALL in the Digital Wilds special issue. Language Learning & Technology, 21(1), 186. Sundqvist, P., & Sylvén, L.K., (2014). Language-related computer use: Focus on young L2 English learners in Sweden. ReCALL, 26(1), 3-20. Thomas, E.E., & Stornaiuolo, A. (2016). Restorying the self: Bending toward textual justice. Harvard Educational Review, 86(3), 313-338. Ushioda, E. (2008). Language motivation in a reconfigured Europe: Access, identity, autonomy. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 27(2), 148-161. Valero-Porras, M.-J., & Cassany, Y. (2015). Multimodality and language learning in a scanlation community. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 212, 9-15. Presentation available at