Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol 2

The second issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, an online peer-reviewed journal devoted to popular media and fan communities, is now out — another splendid and substantial package of theory, praxis, and reviews. The theme for Volume 2, which was guest-edited by Rebecca Carlson, is Games as Transformative Works.

My favorite piece of the bunch is probably an essay by Will Brooker, “Maps of Many Worlds,” on computer-game fandom in the 1980s. It’s smartly written and full of insights, as one would expect from Brooker (whose work on Star Wars fandom has been enormously productive for me), but it’s also unexpectedly — and rewardingly — personal, recollecting his own imaginative engagement with the graphical realms of games played on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. My own U.S.-based cognate for this was the Commodore 64, but Brooker’s observations hold true across the cultural and commercial borders of computer culture. I’m currently working on an essay about retrogames for an upcoming MIT Press collection on “Spreadable Media” (if you’re reading this, Henry and Sam, don’t lose faith! the piece is on its way), and so found Brooker’s discussion of, and evident reverence for, 8-bit graphics not only entertaining but useful. I highly recommend it, along with the rest of the issue.

Regarding upcoming volumes of TWC, I quote below the words of co-editors Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson:

We are soliciting and reviewing for our general issue No. 3 (Fall 2009) at the moment, as well as two forthcoming special issues, one on the CW show _Supernatural_ (“Saving People, Hunting Things,” edited by Catherine Tosenberger; see CfP http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/announcement/view/5) and one on history and fandom (“Fan Works and Fan Communities in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” edited by Nancy Reagin and Anne Rubenstein; see CfP http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/announcement/view/6). If you have any questions, please contact us or the special editors directly.

5 thoughts on “Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol 2

  1. Thanks :)

    I agree that Will’s piece is great–and a wonderful example of how scholarship can look in its different guises. As much as I love the solid traditional peer-reviewed essays, I think the Symposium format allows not only nontraditional voices to be heard but also showcases some of the more provocative and pleasantly accessible writing.

    And I’m real excited about the Spreadable Media project. It seems that’s all I hear about everywhere…

  2. Nina: my pleasure! I really love what you and Karen are doing with TWC so far; in content as well as in editorial approach, you’re blazing exciting new ground.

    Yes, Spreadable Media does seem to be on everyone’s lips! (Sounds like some new type of Chapstick.) Funny — and fractal — this migration of scholarship about migratory media …

  3. Thanks for the shout out! This is a great issue, and I love Brooker’s essay too. The personal experience angle is sheer perfection.

    I’m also a fan of the chiptunes essay in particular; maybe it’s because the little rinkydink music really resonantes for me, because that was *my* era! The little vids illustrating arcade music are simply adorable.

  4. Thank you! As you know, it’s a lot of work, but it’s also really rewarding, especially when the finished product’s there.

    It’s your fault I’ll be thinking of chapstick now every time I hear the title! :)

    I think there’s something actually profound about form mirroring content, or rather, scholarship follows pattern established and performed in the areas it is studying. It reminds me of the way I always think our acafan community uses a lot of strategies that we’ve adopted from fannish interactions (beta readers, drafting in blog posts, etc).

  5. I’ve always seen fandom as — at least in part — its own mode of scholarship, complete with a textually-centered social structure that encourages collaboration and sharing. And its own territorialities and disciplinary disputes, I suppose — still, a utopian alternative to the strict rules of Ph.Ds and tenure!

    Karen, the chiptunes piece was a revelation to me. I’m not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination, but have long realized that graphics — like visual effects — wouldn’t be the same without the accompaniment of music and sound effects.

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