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FANDOM AND PARTICIPATORY

CULTURE
INSTRUCTOR: CHELSEA J. MURDOCK
EMAIL: CJMurdock@ku.edu
OFFICE: 3116 WESCOE HALL
VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS: TBA

COURSE DESCRIPTION
This course will study the communities that develop around various media interests,
such as movies, books, television shows, and video games to explore the way that
textual production takes places in these communities. Students will be challenged to
consider the ways in which texts are mediated, adapted, and transformed in fan
production (fan vids, fan fiction, fan art, and fan music) while also considering the ways
in which participatory cultures are formed, enacted, and maintained. Students will be
asked to analyze details of both source and fan materials to identify generic features
and structures, as well as identifying and explaining the relationships among the
writers, readers, genres, and contexts of these materials.
By the end of English 203 course, students should be able to:

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Read consciously and contextually to develop interpretations of texts.



Analyze textual details to develop an interpretation of the overall text
Identify the generic features and structures of a text
Identify and explain the relationships among writers, readers, genres, and contexts

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Demonstrate the ability to use English studies methodologies to think critically about
language, texts, and experience.
Demonstrate development of deeper understanding of course concepts
Form judgments about the assumptions or claims presented in the texts
Make evidence-based arguments to support conclusions
Analyze contemporary issues in language, texts, and experience based on English
studies methodologies





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Write in ways appropriate to the course subject.

Compose in at least three different types of writing for different purposes, audiences, or
media (e. g. creative, analytical, evaluative, or digital)
Address multiple perspectives (scholarly and otherwise) on a topic while clearly voicing
your own
Effectively use critical terminology relevant to the course subject
Incorporate evidence, following the citation style particular to the course subject
Make conscious choices about language patterns, diction and style
Use feedback appropriately to improve their writing through revision





Major fandoms of modern popular culture will serve as conveyors for discussions, such
as Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter as well as other popular
culture touchstones. Through engagement with scholars such as Nancy Baym and Henry
Jenkins, as well as others, students will think critically regarding the language of
participatory cultures and fandoms, the textual production and engagement of these
communities, and further, how contemporary issues are discussed and embodied in fan
production and engagement. The major assignments of this course have been created
with a mindfulness toward fan production and scholarship, valuing conversation
between the two—creating a space for students to become “aca-fans,” fans who engage
with fandom with an academic mindfulness. Therefore, the major assignments will ask
students to critically consider major topics of gender, class, race, language, and various
other topics within fan communities.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS
TEXTBOOKS
Jamison, Anne. Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World. (Smart Pop) 2013.
Jenkins, Henry. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. (New York,
New York UP) 2006.
Hellekson, Karen and Kristina Busse. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the
Internet. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland) 2006.
A majority of class readings will be posted on the Blackboard site. A list of
readings has been provided in the attached “Unit Descriptions and Readings”
document.

COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS
If you do not have access to a computer off campus, there are many computer labs on
campus to use to participate in the course. Most public libraries also have computers
with internet access that you can use for free. You have to have access to a computer
to participate in this course. You should also have access to a high-speed internet
connection.
You will need to have an up-to-date web browser, operating system, and some
additional software on your computer to take this class. Check KU Blackboard Learn for
hardware and system requirements. Some of the documents in this course will be
available to you in PDF form. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader software on your
computer, you can download it by going to http://get.adobe.com/reader/ .
This course will also use video and sound in various capacities throughout the course.
Make certain that you have the ability to listen to the videos of YouTube. Headphones
are suggested but not required.

COURSE COMMUNICATION
ANNOUNCEMENTS
Announcements will be posted Blackboard on a regular basis. They will appear on your
Blackboard dashboard when you log in and/or will be sent to you directly through your

KU email from Blackboard. Usually these announcements will bring attention to
deadlines. Please make certain to check them regularly, as they will contain any
important information about upcoming projects or class concerns.

EMAIL
You can contact me at any time through the KU email system. My email address is
CJMurdock@ku.edu. Emails are answered pretty quickly, but please allow for a 12 hour
turnaround on responses. I do answer emails over the weekend. When emailing, please
do the following:



 Put a subject in the subject box that describes the email content with your
name, week of the
course, and message subject. For example:
WK2ASSIGNMENT.
 Send email only to CJMurdock@ku.edu.
 Do not submit your assignments by email, unless otherwise instructed.
 Make certain to check your email frequently.

DISCUSSION BOARD

You can access each forum by clicking on the Discussion Board link in the Quick
Access links. In order to get full credit for each discussion, you will need to post a
thoughtful, well-written response to the question and respond to two of your
classmates’ answers. Word count will be listed with each prompt. Make certain to check
the schedule for days when the discussion board is due.

OFFICE HOURS

Once a week I will be available for virtual office hours –one evening session using
GOOGLE + HANGOUT. Click GOOGLE+ button in the Quick Access. You must have a
gmail account to use this function. During virtual office hours, I will respond to chats and
to video conference requests. This expands my ability to engage with your work and
your ability to seek aid and feedback. You must contact me via chat, video
conference, or email at least once in the semester.
Regular, in-person office hours will be held ____.

TURNAROUND/FEEDBACK
During the week (M-F), I will check the Discussion Board and monitor task completion
several times a day. If you have a concern and send me a message, you can expect a
response within 12 hours.

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS
You will be required to write in a course journal, which can be accessed through
Blackboard. Prompts can be found in the online journal folder. All occasions of online
journal assignments will be noted in the course schedule.

MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS

In addition to your weekly assignments, there will be four unit projects/papers for this
course:

Major Assignment #1 Fan Autoethnography— In this project, you will
explore a particular fandom from your perspective. How did you get involved?

Why? What do you see as the defining characteristics of your fandom and fan
activity? How do you interact with that fandom?
Major Assignment #2 Poaching or Playing? Paper— What’s your stance on
fan creations? Do you think they are derivative and unoriginal? Do you think they
are transformative and innovative? Either way, you will make an argument for
your stance, citing readings from class to support your points.
Major Assignment #3 Transformative Works— Write a fanfic. Record a
podcast. Draft a song. Knit a hat. More and more options are available to you.
Become a part of the larger conversation by creating your own transformative
work. This project will require a proposal, the transformative work itself (contract
evaluation), and a short (4-page) analysis paper.
Major Assignment #4 Ongoing Blog Posts— Throughout the semester, you
will be challenged to keep up a blog to consider various prompts and issues as
they arise in the class, creating our own participatory culture.

Details on all these projects will be provided as the semester progresses.
Additional information about each project can be found under the Major Assignments
link in the Quick Access section. You will need to turn each project in using the drop
box provided in each unit. For these assignments, you will simply upload your
assignment into the Blackboard system.

GRADING
Your final grade for the course will be based on the following weights for your
graded work.




Project #1
Project #2
Project #3
Project #4
Discussion board posts, journal

10%
20%
30%
20%
20%

entries, blog posts

I will grade using +/- letter grading system on both individual projects and your final
grade. To calculate your final grade, your letter grade will translate into numbers
according to the following scale:
A=94-100%
A-=90-93%
B+=88-89%
B=84-87%
B-=80-83%
C+=78-79%

C=74-77%
C-=70-73%
D+=68-69%
D=64-67%
D-=60-63%
F=0-59%

After a major grade is returned, I will not discuss the grade for 24 hours. If you have
any questions regarding your grade, please email me or sign on during virtual office
hours.

OTHER COURSE POLICIES
ATTENDANCE

You are allowed four absences to do with as you wish. You do not even need to contact
me to use them. When you hit five absences, you will reported through MySuccess,
which will alert your advisor of your absences. Six absences will lower the grade by a
whole letter. Seven absences will result in a failing grade for the course.

CHANGES TO THE SYLLABUS

Changes to the syllabus will be rare. When they do occur, you will be informed in writing
through Blackboard Announcements. I reserve the right to change the syllabus at
any time.

LATE WORK
Late work will not be accepted. Assignments will not be available after the deadline.
If you have an extenuating circumstance, please contact me by private message before
the assignment is due to make alternate arrangements.

DISABILITIES

The Academic Achievement & Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations and
services for all KU students who are eligible. If you have a disability for which you wish
to request accommodations and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as
possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is 785-864-4064
(V/TTY).
Information about their services can be found at http://disability.ku.edu . Please contact
me privately in regard to your needs in this course.

ACADEMIC HONESTY
Intellectual property and integrity are important values for the university community, so
cheating in any form, including plagiarism, will not be tolerated. Any time a writer uses
someone else's idea, words, or work without explicitly citing the source, the writer has
been academically dishonest. Some specific examples of actions that constitute
plagiarism include pasting together uncredited information or ideas from the Internet or
published sources, submitting an entire paper written by someone else, submitting a
paper written for another class (and thus not original work), and copying another
student’s work (even with the student’s permission). In order to avoid unintentional
plagiarism and to represent your work honestly, you will need to be meticulous about
giving credit to any and all sources, whether directly quoted (even a few words) or
paraphrased. Please study the University's description of and rules concerning academic
dishonesty in the Student Handbook as well as the English Department's description in
Composition & Literature. All incidents of plagiarism will be penalized, reported, and
kept on file in the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the
University Provost’s Office.

POLICY ON STUDENT ACADEMIC CREATIONS

Since one of the aims of this course is to teach students to write for specific audiences,
ungraded student-authored work will be shared with other class members during the
semester in which you are enrolled in the class. Please do not submit materials on
sensitive subjects that you would not want your classmates to see or read, unless you
inform the instructor in advance that you do not want your work shared with others.
This class, due to its online nature, is going to be very open and community-driven.

Reading peer work will be required. Bear this in mind when writing for the course. When
we start fan fiction, make sure that your fiction is friendly to a wide audience. Keep it
the equivalent of PG-13 or below.
OTHER POLICIES
Be sure to read Composition & Literature thoroughly for all other Departmental policies.

WRITING CENTER

For help with your writing, I strongly encourage you to contact the KU Writing Center. At
the Writing Center you can talk about your writing with trained tutors or consult
reference materials in a comfortable working environment. You may ask for feedback on
your papers, advice and tips on writing (for all your courses), or for guidance on special
writing tasks. Please check the website here for current locations and hours. The Writing
Center welcomes both drop-ins and appointments, and there is no charge for their
services. For more information, please call (785) 864-2399 or send an e-mail to
writing@ku.edu. The website is loaded with helpful information about writing of all sorts.