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Interview with Katherine Larson and Lynn Zubernis, editors of Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

Read the interviews with Katherine Larson and Lynn Zubernis about their own fandom and what compelled them to edit their new book Fan Phenomena: Supernatural.

Lynn Zubernis, editor of Fan Phenomena: Supernatural
 
What film, TV or book series are you a fan of?
I’m a huge fan of the Supernatural tv series – in fact, I’m so passionate that I’m pretty much fandom monogamous!
 
What is it about this 'phenomena' that appeals to you?
What appeals to me most about Supernatural is its family dynamic and its willingness to explore not just the scary and the suspenseful, but the emotional. I actually watched the show casually for a year without being drawn into the fandom. I could see the good things about it – it’s well written, beautifully filmed, very well acted. But none of those characteristics made me fall head over heels for the show. It wasn’t until an intense emotional scene between brothers Sam and Dean Winchester that I suddenly sat up and dropped what I was doing and said “OMG this is the BEST SHOW EVER!” That was it – I was in love.
 
Those emotional moments and that family dynamic are still what captivate me, and that’s been extended to the other important characters in the Winchesters’ lives too. The idea expressed on Supernatural that “family don’t end with blood” is a powerful one, and I think it resonates with many fans. I like to say that what we call ourselves – the SPN Family – is more than just a hashtag on twitter. It’s the way the community feels for many of us, in a very real way.
 
The casting director for the show also deserves all the kudos, because the chemistry between the lead actors has always been what brought the characters to life, and that continues in the current ninth season. The Winchesters and the angel Castiel are deliciously flawed but well-intentioned characters, struggling to overcome repeated tragedy, and their ‘otherness’ makes them relatable to many fans.
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact?
I think that family dynamic and the compelling characters continues to be what draws fans to the show and has kept it on the air for an amazing ten seasons. People relate to the Winchesters and Castiel – their heroism, their humanity, their struggles, and their ‘otherness’. Supernatural has retained an impressive quality over the past decade, largely because most of the cast and crew have been with the show since the beginning and remain as passionate and loyal as the fans.
In addition, the show established a close reciprocal relationship with its fans early on, even before the advent of Twitter and Tumblr, through face-to-face interaction at numerous conventions and in the fourth-wall-breaking dialogue the show itself established with its fans. We’ve been researching and writing about Supernatural since its third season, and our early conversations with creator and showrunner Eric Kripke and showrunner Sera Gamble were all about connecting with fans – from the beginning, that dynamic was something the creative side was interested in.
 
Kripke had a deft hand in creating ‘meta episodes’ that spoke to the fans, sharing inside jokes and making it seem like we were all “in this together” trying to save a show that was a bit of an anomaly on its network and seemed constantly on the verge of cancellation in its early years. That dynamic and closeness has continued, evidenced by the use of the term ‘SPN Family’ by fans, cast and crew to describe the Supernatural phenomenon.
 
The passion of the Supernatural fans has contributed to the show having a cultural impact far beyond what you might expect from a little show on the CW network. The SPN fandom was ahead of the social media curve, gaining a reputation for winning online polls and contests early on – and that hasn’t changed. The fandom’s strong presence online brought many of the Show’s iconic images and quotes into popular awareness, with quite a few expressions finding their way into the pop culture vernacular. The fandom’s online presence has in turn contributed to the show’s popularity and longevity.
 
What drew you to fan studies and encouraged you to write a volume of the Fan Phenomena series in particular?
It was actually my passion for Supernatural that drew me to the field of fan studies. I fell so hard for the Show that, as a psychologist, I began to ask ‘what the hell is happening to me’ and turned to fan studies for an answer. When I discovered the amazing fandom community and experienced firsthand what a supportive and healthy place it can be, I wanted to do the research that would back up those perceptions. Combining my own background in psychology with the wisdom of the acafans who preceded me, provided me with some answers – and at the same time, kept raising more questions. I’m still fascinated by my own evolution as a fan, and by the phenomenon of fandom in general.
 
As soon as I heard about the Fan Phenomena series, I knew that Supernatural belonged – although it’s still on the air, the Show has established itself as a fan phenomenon. We’ve been fans of Supernatural for almost nine years, and have been researching the show for almost eight, so writing the SPN volume for this wonderful series was a privilege. We knew immediately that we wanted the volume to reflect the reciprocal relationship between the creative side and fan side, so we were thrilled to include essays about the show written from multiple perspectives – fans, academics, cast (actors Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel, and Richard Speight, Jr., who plays The Trickster/Gabriel) and crew (brilliant cinematographer Serge Ladouceur) all contributed chapters. We think the result is a book which celebrates the show and reflects the SPNFamily.
 
 
Katherine Larson, editor of Fan Phenomena: Supernatural
 
What film, TV or book series are you a fan of? 
Supernatural.
 
What is it about this 'phenomena' that appeals to you? 
The complex family dynamic that forms the basis of the series appeals to me on a personal level. The problems of these two brothers are at once disturbingly familiar and yet laced with enough otherworldly elements to allow the viewer some distance when that family dynamic might cut too close to the bone.  On an intellectual level, I love the ways in which the show manages to encapsulate so many aspects of popular culture.
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact? 
Supernatural seemed to be at the forefront of changing relationships between fans and producers. The producers of the show have demonstrated a knowledge and interest in the ways in which the fans watch and then use the series and this is reflected back in the show itself.  Fourth wall breaking is becoming commonplace now, but Supernatural has been doing it for a while and doing it so well.
 
What drew you to fan studies and encouraged you to write a volume of the Fan Phenomena series in particular?

We started out as fans of the series and then began examining what was happening to us, in part because our reaction to the show was so visceral and compelling – really like nothing we’d ever encountered before.  This of course led to research – it’s what we do as academics – and the discovery of an entire field of study.  First we were hooked on the show and then we were hooked on the field itself.  After that there was no looking back.  And, after researching the Supernatural fandom for several years and from all perspectives (that of the fan, the producer and the academics) and producing two other books on the fandom, it seemed a natural fit to edit this volume.  It was also a place where we could allow some of those other voices – fan and producer – to exist side by side with the more academic explorations of the series.

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 10:08 (0) comments
Re-Imagining the City launch in Melbourne
28th May 2014, 9am - 6pm

Intellect is excited to announce that there will be a launch for the book Re-Imagining the City on 28th May in Melbourne. The launch will be a part of the Transformations: Art and the City symposium.

Re-Imagining the City examines how contemporary processes of globalization are transforming cultural experience and production in urban spaces. It maps how cultural productions in art, architecture, and communications media are contributing to the re-imagining of place and identity through events, artifacts, and attitudes. This book recasts how we understand cities, how knowledge can be formed, framed, and transferred through cultural production and how that knowledge is mediated through the construction of aesthetic meaning and value.

To find out more about the symposium please visit their website www.rmit.edu.au/art/research/transformationsymposium

Read more Posted by Alice Gillam at 14:30 (0) comments
Win a copy of Fan Phenomena: The Hunger Games!

Up for grabs today is Fan Phenomena: The Hunger Games. For a chance to win send the answer to the following question to pennock@intellectbooks.com:

Who originally owned Katniss' Mockingjay pin?

 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 10:42 (0) comments
Win a copy of Fan Phenomena: Audrey Hepburn!

A free copy of Fan Phenomena: Audrey Hepburn is up for grabs!

For your chance to win send your answer to the following question to pennock@intellectbooks.com by the end of the day:

What was Audrey Hepburn's first significant film role?

 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 10:43 (0) comments
Call for papers: Journal of Design, Business & Society

The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a scholarly peer reviewed journal that publishes high-quality academic papers, case studies, and critiques that examine the role of design in business or society, as well as book reviews of relevant literature. We aim to promote cross-disciplinary research, and therefore, in addition to soliciting design papers, we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and so on. The journal is published twice a year by the international academic publisher Intellect. The journal also commissions special issues with guest editors.

 
The Journal of Design, Business & Society works in collaboration with a range of universities, has a partnership agreement with Design for Business: International Research Conference, and with organizations such as the Melbourne International Design Week, agIdeas, the Design Foundation, and the Designers Institute of New Zealand.
 
Currently we are inviting manuscripts that explore any of the following themes:
 
·       Design for Business
·       Design for Society
·       Design for the Environment
·       Design and Innovation
·       Design Thinking
 
And from any of the following perspectives:
·       Industry
·       Branding
·       Consumerism
·       Fashion
·       Products
·       Sustainability
·       Transportation
·       Communications
·       Digital Media
·       User Experience
·       Built Environments
·       Architecture
 
Please email manuscripts of 5,000 to 8,000 words, of any inquires to dbs@intellectbooks.com. The journal uses Anglia Ruskin's Guide to Harvard's Referencing System. All images need to be included with ALL SUBMISSIONS. Authors are responsible for copyright permissions.
 
Principle Editor:
Dr. Gjoko Muratovski, Auckland University of Technology (gjoko.muratovski@aut.ac.nz)
Associate Editor:
Dr. Toni Johnson-Woods, University of Queensland (t.johnsonwoods@uq.edu.au)
Associate Editor:
Dr. Robert Crocker, University of South Australia (Robert.crocker@unisa.edu.au)
Editorial Assistant:

Ekaterina Loy, Intellect (dbs@intellectbooks.com)

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 09:58 (0) comments
Fan Phenomena Week - Zachary Ingle

Zachary Ingle, editor of Fan Phenomena: The Big Lebowski, discusses his own fandom and what drew him to the Fan Phenomena series: 

What film, TV or book series are you a fan of? 
The Simpsons
 
What is it about this 'phenomena' that appeals to you? 
It has been my favorite TV show for almost 25 years now, since its debut. In fact, for much of that time, it was the only TV show I consistently watched. I think it is the smartest and funniest TV show ever produced.
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact? 
The intelligence of the writing, the vastness of its Springfield universe, and its ability to stay fresh after all these years.
 
What drew you to fan studies and encouraged you to write a volume of the Fan Phenomena series in particular?
I was already a fan of two of Intellect's other series--the Directory of World Cinema and World Film Locations, both of which I enjoy collecting, reading, and contributing to. I knew that this new series exploring fan phenomena was an excellent idea from the first time I heard about it, and eagerly wrote chapters for the volumes on two of my other passions: Star Wars and Marilyn Monroe. Editing the volume on The Big Lebowski was a tremendous opportunity, as it has some unusual rituals attached to its fandom, such as Lebowski Fests and its own religion, Dudeism. I consider it an honor getting to edit my own book for Intellect.
 
 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 12:27 (0) comments
Fan Phenomena Week - staff views
Some of Intellect’s staff share their thoughts about Fandom and the cultural impact of their favourite phenomena.
 
Alice Gillam, Marketing Assistant
 
What film, TV or book series are you a fan of?
Veronica Mars
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact?
It was never particular popular in terms of ratings and was in fact cancelled after 3 seasons. It has avid fans that have helped fund a kickstarter in order to bring the characters back in a standalone movie. It enjoyed critical success, however this was mainly for the first season. It was unusual in being a teen TV series with a strong female lead, who was allowed to be difficult, complex and often not particularly nice in a way that female characters in mainstream TV programs rarely are. However it probably did not have any significant cultural impact, unfortunately this type of complex female lead is still pretty rare in pop culture. It was cancelled is favour of a reality show about the Pussycat Dolls.
 
What would your cosplay costume be if you visited Comicon?
I'm not a big fan of dressing up so it would probably be something I could get away with putting minimal effort into. Perhaps Mystique disguising herself as me.
 
 
Tim Mitchell, Assistant Publisher
 
What film, TV or book series are you a fan of?
Six Feet Under
 
What is it about this 'phenomena' that appeals to you?
Intelligent use of popular culture to discuss questions about death and how it is approached in western society.
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact?
It is an incredibly well–written series set within the confines of a particular family and funeral home with each episode taking the death of an individual to explore wider cultural issues of religion, race, drugs, sex, identity and so on. Excellent use of black humour and cynicism. Occasionally shocking but never gratuitous. One of the finest examples of television production values and a narrative arc being used in a way that matches the aesthetic impact of both cinema and the novel in their respective ways.
 
What would your cosplay costume be if you visited Comicon?

Not sure this applies, thoroughly everyday characterisation, which is part of the attraction! 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 09:45 (0) comments
Interview with Jennifer K Stuller
Editor of Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In this interview find out Jennifer K Stuller’s thoughts on her own fandom, fandom studies and what inspired her to write Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
 
What film, TV or book series are you a fan of? 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 
 
What is it about this 'phenomena' that appeals to you?
As a pop culture historian with a focus on the journey of the female hero, Buffy Summers and her friends were a revelation in terms of its representation of heroism. The focus on both personal strength and community - and how that inspires in the real world is what appeals to me most about BtVS's "Fan Phenomena."
 
What do you think makes it so popular and have such a cultural impact? 
Wonderful, unexpected, intelligent, funny, emotionally resonant, and deeply layered storytelling. A new vision of heroism that forever changed how female heroes, and how communities of heroes, are represented in popular culture. 
 
What drew you to fan studies and encouraged you to write a volume of the Fan Phenomena series in particular?
Seeing how transformative fandom can be for individuals and communities. Fandom can inspire creative endeavors, social change, new projects, educational initiatives, and so much more. The themes in Buffy resonate back and forth with fandom, they were, and continue to be, in conversation with fandom. 
 

I was encouraged to write a volume of the Fan Phenomena series by a colleague and friend from the Whedon Studies Association. Being deeply involved in Buffy fandom, from co-leading a university course that used the series to explore issues of human nature to planning a party to celebrate Buffy's 30th birthday at a local comic book store with my GeekGirlCon sisters to being a part of Whedonesque Burlesque (and performing as Joyce Summers) to co-producing a book launch party that turned a Seattle bar into "A Night at the Bronze" to being asked to speak about fan activism as a featured speaker at the 6th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses (June 14) all of my interaction and participation as a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has enriched me intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. It's brought me family, self-confidence, community, and so much more. The chance to work with a community of writers and thinkers to delve into the larger impact of this phenomena was a delight and a privilege. 

 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 12:54 (0) comments
The Soundtrack Call for Papers & Conference Presentations
CINESONIKA 4: The Forth International Conference & Festival of Sound Design

Conference Dates: 8-9th July, 2014

Keynote Speaker: Amy Herzog (Queens College, CUNY)

Venue: Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

We are seeking multi-disciplinary contributions on sound in relation to the moving image. Media thinkers, film scholars, art historians, performance theorists, composers, filmmakers, sound practitioner, multimedia semiotitians, philosphers of perception - we invite these and others to submit proposals for 20 minute panel presentations. All accepted abstracts will be considered for inclusion in the CINESONIKA issue of The Soundtrack academic journal if expanded into papers and submitted for peer review (1000-3000 words for short articles, 5000-6000 words for long papers). Articles should be formatted according to the Intellect Style Guide.

Submit an Abstract - Please wite "Cinesonika 4 Abstract" in the subject heading.

Deadlines for Abstracts (under 500 words): 1st June, 2014

Please submit your abstract and short bio both as attachement (.doc or .pdf) and also pasted into the body of your email submission to submit@cinesonika.com

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 11:50 (0) comments
Special Issue: Indigenous Film and Media
International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics
The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics (MCP) seeks papers for a themed issue on Indigenous Film and Media. Papers should address any aspect of Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Maori, Sami, etc. film, media, and popular cultures. MCP is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and popular cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those which run across cultures, nations, and nation-states. Consequently, this themed volume welcomes comparative research across media and/or Indigenous ethnicities and cultures. In particular, the volume highly encourages comparative papers between Indigenous and, say, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and African film, media, and popular cultures.

Topics might address, but are not in any way limited to the following:
Film
Television
New Media
Video Games, Blogging, YouTube
Advertising
Fashion
Sports
Popular Literature
Comic books, Graphic novels, and Cartoons
Radio shows
Folklore
Museums
Theater, Festivals, Spectacles, and Ceremonies
Music
Visual art
 

MCP invites interested contributors to send (4,000-8,000 word) essays, short commentaries (2,500-3,000), and book reviews (1,000-2,500) on Indigenous film, new media, social media, and popular cultural politics to the Guest Editor at the following address: adahan@mnstate.edu on or before May 30th 2014. Contributors should also include brief biographical notes of approximately 200 words. 

Read more Posted by Jessica Pennock at 10:50 (0) comments