Archiving the Future: Fanfiction as an Artistic Practice
By: Megan van der Nest (Ph.D. Candidate, Rhodes)
In a 2011 article in TIME Magazine, Lev Grossman gives the following description of fanfiction:
fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couch bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
Many people think of fanfiction as something written by 13-year-old girls with no concept of grammar or plot, who wouldn't know a good story if it hit them on the head. In this paper I will argue that, contrary to this point of view, fanfiction ought to be considered a legitimate artistic practice, in the tradition of archival art. In addition, by drawing on Derrida's theory of the archive and Michel de Certeau's theory about the relationship between consumers and producers, I will argue that fanfiction can serve an important social and political function, as a mechanism for questioning and transforming the dominant ideology of a society.