Fan Fiction, Learning, and Literacy

Rebecca Black

This presentation addresses the sophisticated literacy and social practices, as well as forms of learning and identity building, that adolescents engage in via new media and information and communication technologies (ICTs). In particular, the session focuses on fan fiction, a form of writing based on media and popular culture such as Japanese animation and Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Fan fiction authors engage in inventive writing practices such as creating new narrative threads, extending timelines, and developing relationships between characters. Moreover, new ICTs have provided means for fans from across the globe to share, critique, discuss, and develop their texts in online fan fiction archives and writing communities. In such fan fiction writing spaces, youth are using new ICTs to engage not only with popular culture and media, but also with a broad array of literate activities that are aligned with many school-based literacy practices. Thus, the presentation highlights points of convergence and divergence between in- and out-of-school literacy practices and addresses the potential of fan-based activity for adolescent language and literacy development.

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