The Origin of Fandom Lore
Fandom Lore is a project that explores how fandoms based on Adult and Young adult fiction promote inclusion and diversity, giving marginalized groups a voice.
I interviewed seven illustrators and one author from various marginalized communities about their experiences with fan culture. The interviews discuss how fandom has influenced how readers perceive fiction. They examine how representation or lack of representation can affect a reader's individuality. They emphasize how fandoms foster community and belonging for those who feel isolated in a world dominated by what feels like a uniform culture. Ultimately, this project aims to promote a better understanding of our world's multiculturalism.
When readers cannot recognize themselves in the fiction they read, or when the images they encounter seem to misrepresent or exaggerate their culture, they can feel undervalued in society. The white, heterosexual-cis population has always found itself represented in literary works, whereas marginalized groups have had to carve their way into fictional worlds. Fandoms, or more specifically, the idea of a fanbase, has become the term used to describe communities built around a shared enjoyment of particular niches within pop culture. They have become communities where fans can give a voice to the voiceless, to those whose perspectives are often ignored. Fandom provides a platform for them to be heard. Fan Culture has changed and challenged storytelling through social media platforms such as TikTok, Tumblr, and Instagram, opening doors to alternative perspectives that highlight marginalized communities. For Jade that means advocating for other South Asian and queer Muslim girls who continue to be misrepresented in the media.
For Bhavan that means using her illustrations to challenge the Indian beauty standards that surround skin-lightening cosmetics. For Karen, that means exposing the biases of her traditional Mexican culture. For TJ Klune, it has meant writing previously untold stories that feature a 40-year-old chubby queer man or queer teens with ADHD as the main characters. In the blink of an eye, fandom has turned pop culture into a conversation, offering an arena in which to highlight displeasure or appreciation for these fictional worlds. In these conversations, fans start talking about the representational gaps in media and come to a mutual understanding; in order to be represented, marginalized social groups and ethnic groups need to break the mold built by the dominant groups.
Each interview is available under the Profiles tab. Additionally, please use the "Forum" tab to share your own fandom experiences and discuss topics of mutual interest with others.
This multimedia project has been created by a UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student and is supported by the Raab Writing Fellows Program, which is funded by UCSB Trustee Diana Raab. The program offers mentoring and research opportunities in writing to selected undergraduates who want to develop their own artistic projects.