Episode 67: Stephanie Burt: Part 1
Episode 67, “Stephanie Burt: Part 1,” is the first half of a conversation with Stephanie Burt, a Harvard poetry professor and comics fangirl. In this segment, they discuss poetry criticism, the similarities between fanfic and hardcore punk, taste and quality, situating your critical perspective, and the way various academic fields—from fan studies to the English department—treat feeeeeeeeeelings.
[00:02:44] The piece in the New Yorker is “The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction.” Thank you for the shoutouts Stephanie!
[00:03:10] As is often the case, our interstitial music is by Jahzzar.
[00:12:57] Stephanie referred to Eleanor Henderson’s novel Ten Thousand Saints.
[00:17:40] The book Stephanie is thinking about is Subcultural Sounds: Micromusics of the West by Mark Slobin.
[00:18:00] Boskone, if you don’t know, is a SFF con held in Boston. It’s coming up; if you’re local, come see Flourish there!
[00:28:04] Joanna Russ’s work is amazing. Here’s an interview with her that’s available free online.
[00:35:38] “Fascinated and frustrated” comes from Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers, if you haven’t heard Flourish quote it literally a zillion times before.
[00:36:36] Camille Bacon-Smith’s book about SFF fandom is called Science Fiction Culture.
[00:46:55] Did you miss Zan Romanoff’s episode of Fansplaining? Now’s a great time to listen to it!
[00:49:07] At least one of us wasn’t familiar with Essex Hemphill’s performance poetry, so here’s one of his poems!
[00:54:00] danah boyd’s book is It’s Complicated.
[01:01:03] The fic is Truth and Measure by Telanu, if you want to read along!
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!
ELM: This is the first of a two-part episode, Episode 67, “Stephanie Burt: Part 1.”
FK: I am so excited that Stephanie’s coming on this podcast. I have been waiting for her to come on for a long time.
ELM: OK, so you are basically lying right now because we have already recorded it.
FK: Yeah, I mean…
ELM: Don’t pretend that we haven’t talked to her yet, cause everyone’s gonna know cause we had to know to turn it into a two-part episode!
FK: Yes, but this podcast is not yet up, so she hasn’t yet been on the podcast, in that it’s not published yet.
ELM: OK, all right. Well, what is it, combative friendship?
FK: Yeah, in her emails to us she described us as having a “combative close friendship” that she admired but could never take part in, which I felt was one of the nicest things that anyone’s ever said to us.
ELM: Yeah! [laughs] All right. So Stephanie came on and had a lot to say. I think partly because every question we asked she said, “I have a two part answer.” So it’s twice as much answer to every question. So we decided as we were recording, why don’t we just split it into two episodes? So we’re gonna have the bulk of the conversation in this episode, and then we’ll have an extra probably about half hour in the next episode, and then we’ll answer some listener mail to wrap things up.
FK: Yeah and I think it’s gonna be really good. Part of the reason I think she’s so two-part-answer-y, I think, is she is, if people don’t know her, she’s a professor at Harvard, a professor of poetry, so does a lot of talking to people and fansplaining in fact. Uh, I guess it’s not ’splaining when you’re a professor teaching.
ELM: I mean…
FK: [laughs] Can be. She’s not splainy, don’t worry, only in a good way! She’s also the co-poetry editor for the Nation and she recently did a book called Advice from the Lights, a book of poetry, among many others. So, I’m really excited to have her on, because I feel like she has a particular point of view on fanfic that relatively few other people have.
ELM: I feel like our listeners may be familiar with her, it was a piece in the New Yorker’s Pageturner blog a few months ago that pointed a lot of people towards “The Rec Center,” so that was exciting. That’s not the only reason I liked it, but I did like that element. So yeah! Having already had that conversation with her…it was great…I feel like I’m in Doctor Who. I’m like “So it will be great in the future, because it was already great.”
FK: [laughing] Well why don’t we just end this torturous introduction and call Stephanie, roll tape, what do we say in this situation?
ELM: Yeah, let’s just go to the interview.
FK: OK, I think it’s time to welcome Stephanie Burt to the podcast. Welcome, Stephanie!
Stephanie Burt: I feel very welcome!
ELM: Hi, so excited about this.
SB: I’ve been a fan for, a meta-fan, a fan of Fansplaining, for awhile. I think I listened to the first podcast before the third one even went up! So I’ve been following your development in my ears. That doesn’t sound right. [all laugh]
ELM: I feel like we’ve evolved over time.
ELM: You can use this opportunity to really push us on that, to see, to prod the edges of our development. That’s what this is about, not you.
SB: Even more meta than I thought. [all laugh]
ELM: OK. So, we’ve already given a little intro but actually I think you’re kind of a unique guest in the sense of, I’d love to know about how you frame…why are you here? That’s an aggressive way. But yeah, I would love to hear how you frame yourself, position yourself fannishly, because I could do that, but I feel like you have really a specific perspective on this.
SB: So many reasons. I have been in and out of mainstream comics fandom and in and out of print-based, word-based science fiction fandom since the mid-’80s, and I would say that I’m definitely very much in those spaces now—and I’m in those spaces as a participant and as a critic, as someone who’s in those spaces in a lot of ways, both of those spaces, which are conventionally thought of as fannish spaces, and they are more and more part of the teaching and of the academic or quasi-academic critical work that I do.
But I’m best known—if people know me—and I’m most published with writing that’s out there with my own name on it as a poetry critic, as someone who writes about how and why people do read and can read and maybe oughta consider reading this poet or that poet or these poems. And the longer I’ve done that kind of work, and the more I think about the poetry world, and watch the history of the poetry world and where poetry is now, the more it feels like a set of fandoms with some academic hierarchical gatekeeping nonsense—and also some very worthwhile scholarship layered on top of it or uncomfortably integrated with it. So I would say now, that the contemporary poetry world works fannishly for me, even though it’s got a whole bunch of characteristics that make it an uncomfortable fit. And it’s also true that I write poetry about highly cathected pop cultural objects, some of which are under copyright.
So if you’re a, if you’re a big-tent person which I know that at least one of you is not [ELM & FK laugh] then my entire professional life is fannish or metafannish. And if you’re a small-tent person, then my life as a writer and as a consumer of media has become more and more invested in and interested in and affected by the questions of what’s amateur, what do you do for love, what’s the difference between admiring something and being really into it, when does getting paid by the New York Times book review to write about something change the way you feel about it, what’s the difference between writing about Achilles and writing about Wolverine—all those questions that if you ask them wrong are stupid gatekeeping questions, but if you ask them right lead to really deep answers about why we love what we love and how we talk about it. I mean, there’s more answers than that, but that’s probably enough.
ELM: I feel like we need to ask all of those questions, but the right way.
SB: Yeah. [laughter all around]
FK: One of the things that really struck me about what you just said was that you compared poetry and fanfiction writing, and one of the jokes that people have often made to me is that poetry is the one thing that you’re actually less likely to make money from, or make a career from, than fanfiction writing? I’m not sure, sometimes it’s made the other way. Sometimes people say you’re less likely to make a career from fanfiction than poetry, it depends on their perspective and level of cynicism about these things. But I thought it was really interesting that you were talking about that question of “When are you an amateur, when are you a professional, when are you…”
SB: Yeah, and the missing term here—in terms of my own points of comparison that I haven’t brought up yet—is music. Because during the years and years when I wasn’t part of narrative pop culture world at all, when I wasn’t thinking about poetry I was mostly thinking about music, where a lot of the same questions about when are you an amateur, when are you a pro, is it better to be an amateur, does the work change when it becomes your career? Can you make a career independently of giant media conglomerates? How is that working out for you? What did the internet change?
All of those questions that arise in one way around poetry, in another way around narratives about fictional characters whose copyrights are controlled by large companies, and in a third way about other kinds of fictional narratives. All those problems arise around music. And they arise in different ways around different kinds of music. So if you want a career in big loud rock music, your idea of what’s independent and what has integrity and what are your responsibilities to the community—and frankly whether you can even make it on your own—work one way. And if the music you really care about requires an orchestra to play it, your relation to professionalism and money and training are totally different. And honestly, since I was an arrogant ridiculous closeted teen writing 5,000 words about the latest Talking Heads album and wondering why the student newspaper did not want to publish that— [laughter] It’s true.
ELM: Painting a picture here. This is excellent.
SB: Yeah, it’s kinda sad, yeah. [all laugh] Since then, I’ve been thinking about all of the, several different ways to see the making of art and its relation to love and amateurism and community and commerce and getting paid for it. My answers to those questions have, I don’t know, gotten longer? [laughter] Gotten less dumb? I wanna say gotten less white, but I don’t know. Been disentangled a little bit from patriarchy? I hope?
ELM: So let me poke at this a bit, because I definitely see all the analogies there, and I was a musician for, I mean, not past. I’m still actively a musician, but…
FK: I’ve gone to your choir concert recently!
ELM: It’s telling I just framed it that way! Because it used to be my entire life was going to rehearsal, and now I am in a choir where I rehearse for three hours a week, and it’s still serious musicianship but it’s not being a musician. And I was choosing between real college and conservatory—I shouldn’t be saying it that way, but that’s how I feel about it. So that’s just a frame of how I’m coming at it, I definitely know what you’re talking about. But I wonder if there is any other art form that is actually analogous to fanfiction in the way of, fanfiction is, or fanworks are, singularly positioned in this space where the vast majority of people don’t see them as “maybe I’ll be the one to hit the jackpot.” “Maybe I’ll be the one to win the one poetry prize that lifts me into…” With poetry the stakes are so…not necessarily low, but they’re limited. There’s not a massive audience you can tap into, right? It’s more about…you know what I mean? Fanworks still have that ceiling. Does that make sense?
SB: So it does, but I think I disagree.
ELM: OK, tell me why!
SB: I disagree for two reasons. First, there are kinds of…the word “pop music” is actually really misleading here. There are kinds of song-form music that people get very heavily invested in and very heavily invested in the amateurism of. In, “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna find my friends there, I’m gonna devote a lot of my life to making and sharing and circulating and defending this kind of music, and I will travel to places where this music is played, to meet other people who play it, and it’s clearly not something that almost anyone makes a living out of.” This is what hardcore punk was for a lot of people who were in that world. And I was never in that world, but I knew people who were in the ’80s and early ’90s, and if you read Eleanor Henderson’s novel Ten Thousand Saints you can get a glimpse of that world.
It is different from the world of fanworks as we know them, because it was and is a very male world. It was a world where the paradigmatic experience was live rather than shared texts or videos or sound recordings. And it’s a world where the making of the art was time intensive and physically laborious. You had to play the music. But the idea that this was an amateur world that was about the creation of a community, and the maintenance of that community, around shared love of works of art that had very specific rules, that most people wouldn’t like or understand, that was what hardcore punk was about in the ’80s.
And it’s weird to see the ways in which they’re similar, and then the ways in which they’re opposites, the most obvious one being gender and the second most obvious one being something that is, can be, preserved indefinitely that’s created often in silence versus something that’s created collaboratively and is super loud. And the kinds of music that ’80s and ’90s—and still today—including kinds I care about a lot, the kinds of music that are adjacent to hardcore but related to it including what used to be called indie pop when I was really into it, the kind of music that came out on labels like Sarah Records and Harriet Records and Subway Records, this was a kind of music that was also, nobody thought they could make a living out of it. Almost only people who really have made a living out of it are Belle & Sebastian. If you think about people getting together in their basements, in their bedrooms, with 4-tracks in 1993, trying to make music that sounds kind of like Belle & Sebastian for 2,000 other people who would be really into it who wanna make the kind of music themselves, so it’s really democratic and really amateurish, that has a similar structure to fan worlds. Maybe I’ll stop there.
FK: Well, what this has inspired in me is—you know the stuff that says STAY PUNK? I want stuff that says something like STAY FANNISH, I don’t know.
ELM: STAY FIC?
FK: STAY FIC…
ELM: STAY FIC!
SB: Is it not already your merch?
ELM: We have no merch.
FK: We have no merch! I was actually thinking about how we should have merch and maybe that should be some of our merch.
ELM: Can we not call it merch?
SB: Why would you call it anything else?
FK: We have to call it merch.
ELM: You know my hatred of the word “merch.”
SB: In a music scene it would clearly be called “merch.” Among people who, and this is still the case, people whose music I follow who are not—nobody expects a 30-year career doing this, but people who are trying to make enough to keep buying tofu and almonds [laughter] for a year or two by driving around North America in a van playing this kind of music, it is called merch and you need to sell merch because people go to Spotify or they go to Bandcamp and they don’t buy records anymore by and large. People buy t-shirts.
FK: People don’t buy fanfiction but potentially you can sell merch?! Oh no.
ELM: I’m a classical musician. I am not using the word “merch.” [all laughing] MERCHANDISE.
SB: What word would you use? People have Patreons but yeah. If there were MERCHANDISE…
ELM: Thank you!
SB: If you had a STAY FIC T-shirt, I would buy it as long as—and this is actually a thing—if you’re gonna do this please make sure that some of the shirts you make are in baby-T or girly cuts! Because I don’t wear guy cut t-shirts anymore ever.
ELM: All right, yeah! We can do a diversity of cuts.
SB: Yes, yes.
FK: Despite being the person who does not wear girly cuts anymore, I am pleased that we should include them if we make them also. We’re all on the same team here, a diversity of cuts.
ELM: We’re making these shirts…
FK: Apparently we have now committed to shirt-making. [laughter]
SB: That was not the effect I thought I would have on you.
ELM: This was your secret agenda!
SB: This was not the effect I thought I would have!
ELM: Your agenda was to come in and have us make specific shirts to your taste, mission accomplished!
SB: I will make jewelry for you if you tell me what kind of jewelry you want once the shirts are made.
ELM: Oh my God, this is not going the way I thought at all, and I’m so delighted. [all laugh] OK, let’s go back to serious though, we are legit doing all of this, just as a side note, so mark that down. But I definitely take your point, I think that there are, obviously there are examples. And even as you’re talking I was thinking of more extreme examples. I was thinking of the culture of, and I’m sure this exists in other parts of the world, but I lived briefly in Ireland and the culture of just sitting for a session is so uncommercialized it’s extraordinary right? You’re literally like “I’m gonna take my fiddle and go play this.”
SB: That’s right, and that is one of a number of cultures, and there’s a book called Micromusics by Mark Slobin that I found out about from the classical music critic Alex Ross that’s a really good book about these cultures of live, local, amateur music-making. And…
ELM: Shape singing in Appalachia, I’m sure, contra dancing too, you know.
FK: I mean I would be remiss not to bring up filksings, which I’m about to go to…
ELM: Yeah, you would, Flourish!
FK: Yeah, I would! I’m about to go to Boskone this month and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is the filksing.
SB: Is Boskone next weekend?
FK: Maybe? It’s either next weekend or the weekend after. Oh no, it’s the weekend after I think.
SB: I have a lot of memories of Boskone that all come from the ’80s, I haven’t been to it since.
FK: As far as I can tell it’s pretty much the same but the people are older. [ELM laughs]
SB: Hmm. I would consider going. Let’s think about it. [laughter] I’ve actually never been to a filksing, and if you’re gonna go and it’s the Saturday, let’s talk.
FK: I think so!
ELM: OK, if you guys go together you’re gonna have to document this, and we’ll put it on Fansplaining. Take pics. Selfies.
FK: Last year when I went, there was a series of people singing folk music to the tune of every Star Trek theme with lyrics written for it and it was so fabulous. It was great!
ELM: OK, we need to get back on topic. I’m not talking about filk with you, Flourish. Flourish has proposed us doing a filk episode multiple times and I’m like “OK, what’s the angle” and I get silence, I get crickets.
FK: The angle is…
ELM: There’s no angle, she just wants to say “filk, filk!” over and over again.
FK: And I wanna listen to filk! And record people singing filk! It’s audio, right?!
ELM: I think what you wanna do is an ethnography of filk singing, and you can do that and publish it elsewhere.
SB: That exists.
SB: That exists.
ELM: If you wanna do your own. OK. Back to the topic at hand. Here’s a question I have for you: I think, I love fan studies, but I often get a little…not disappointed. I don’t wanna, I’m not an academic and I wanna stay in my lane here, but it feels like a lot of fan studies—from what I’ve read and seen at conferences and stuff—is definitely in the social sciences, also a lot more… like, ethnographies, that kind of thing. And I’m a book critic, literary fiction, for the New Yorker magazine as well, so it’s very specific, and I definitely also think about these questions of like, what enthusiasm means—and what does it mean when I’m reviewing a book, and what does it matter where I’m reviewing it for? A lot, actually.
SB: Yes, yes!
ELM: But, I get a little disappointed that it seems like in academia there are so many spaces that are actually kinda fannish—but they won’t use those words and they won’t cross over. You go to a fan studies conference and you don’t…even people who are studying fans will call it “audience.” You know? Like, Victorian “audiences.” And I know that’s changing, but I’m wondering if you have feelings about these kinds of divisions and people using different words and not really wanting to use the other words.
SB: I have so many feelings!
ELM: All right!
SB: Can I…are there words I can’t use on the podcast?
SB: There are not.
ELM: We say that we’re clean, but we’re explicit.
SB: Good, because this drives me up a fucking tree, and I think about it every day. [laughter] Because there are multiple traditions of approaching through the academy works of art. Right? And we’re really talking about works of art. A Belle & Sebastian song or a 30,000 word MCU fic, or Middlemarch or a string quartet or whatever, they’re all works of art. And the question is, how do we talk about works of art and why people care about works of art and how people care and what we do because we care. And then other related questions, like: what are the parts of a work of art? What are its salient qualities? How to explain why you yourself like it, and how to explain and address the fact that other people like things that aren’t what you like. And every approach to works of art in academia distinguishes itself through a different set of ways of answering those questions. All of which are really good questions! And all of the approaches have obvious flaws or holes or insufficiencies.
So the approach that I learned to do growing up, and the one that it sounds like I do when I’m not careful or when I’m writing for a really tight wordcount, and that I sort of used to endorse uncritically and now endorse with a ton of caveats and not really—I’m just saying this because it’s short and I don’t actually believe that—is when you love something and it matters a lot to you and you think it’s beautiful and good and wise and true you just say “This is beautiful and good and wise and true and better than other similar things, and here’s why.” And you feel that way, and you say that, and you’re careful to compare it to other superficially similar things, so you compare, like, poems to poems, instead of sonnets to Middlemarch, and you compare pop songs to other pop songs and you don’t compare them to the Ring Cycle, but you just say “Here’s why I think this is awesome.” And that’s actually the kind of literary criticism and critical writing that I got into this line of work, and it is work, to do. And some of it’s stuff I would even do for free.
But when that’s the only way you talk about works of art, there are obvious problems, one of which is if you don’t do it very well or you do it in a hurry it sounds like you’re bullying or it’s a dictum and you’re not really persuading people, you’re just saying “I’ve got a megaphone and you don’t.” Or “I’ve got a job at Harvard and you don’t.” And that’s not how anything should work, at least in the humanities. One of them is, like, I’m a white lady who grew up middle-class in America. And if I just say “This is good because it’s good and here’s why I think so and I love it and here are why it has 30 separate working parts and they rhyme and by the way line five is about Wolverine and of course you know that there are now four Wolverines,” that’s obviously a problem if I’m talking to a guy who grew up on a boat in the Mediterranean with no money. Right?
The situatedness of all writers, all readers, all listeners and all tastes is not addressed by the explicitly aesthetically evaluative ways of talking about works of art that I inherited and grew up feeling comfortable using. Even though those ways of talking about works of art are useful, both for high-culture high-prestige and pop-culture lower-prestige works. And the history of rock criticism—and I say rock not pop advisedly—and to some extent the history of book-based print-based science fiction criticism, is a history of talking about Theodore Sturgeon or talking about...what’s a good example…Blondie, or the Minutemen, with a vocabulary that was developed for talking about Paradise Lost and why it’s so good.
So that vocabulary is obviously useful, I hope, if you’re listening, and is the way we still talk informally to people who share our situations and share our tastes, including about 30,000 word Iron Man fics, but it’s obviously insufficient, and if you use it unreflectively it’s kind of racist if you’re white. Right? Cause it doesn’t acknowledge the political situatedness of all readers and viewers and listeners. So what do you do? And what do you do in particular if you’re really into works of art and kinds of art that don’t have a history of appealing to the academy? That don’t have a history of, like, “It’s prestigious to explain why this is good?” If you wanna explain why, I don’t know if you think John Adams is a good composer, Elizabeth?
ELM: I like John Adams. Do you dislike John Adams?
SB: I don’t have feels about John Adams. I’m not really an opera person. It was a random example of a famous contemporary composer who’s within high culture.
ELM: Fine. I’m not gonna go to his concert, like, a concert of his works or any contemporary composer whatsoever, because it’s not my favorite period of classical music. [all laugh]
SB: I need someone contemporary for this!
FK: Wow guys, wow.
ELM: Fine. Fine!
SB: If you wanna explain in 20,000 words why you think John Adams is a good or bad inheritor of, I don’t know, Charles Ives, and you really like teaching and you kinda like being in a library and you want a job at a university, you can kind of do that. But if you have the same feels about our notional 30,000 word Iron Man MCU fic, you can’t do that, you can’t just explain why this is the best Iron Man MCU novella. The academy will not hire you to do that—and until recently, most of the people on hiring committees would not even have known what you were talking about, although that’s obviously changing. Now, even if they did, they’d be like “I don’t wanna have to explain that to my colleagues if they don’t already know.” Right?
So if what you wanna write about and what you’re really into, I’m trying to describe a story about the evolution of fan studies. And it’s not the only story but it explains what’s wrong and why, how I think about what’s wrong. If you’re heavily invested mostly in pop cultural objects where the academy wouldn’t hire you to do aesthetic evaluative criticism, you’ve got a different set of problems from the ones that I am addressing that I’m having, having sort of grown up mostly being a poetry critic. Your problem is aesthetic evaluative criticism that doesn’t acknowledge its situatedness is not rewarded at all and not understood by the academy. So if you wanna write about those works, you need a totally different approach that instead of hiding its subjectivity, it hides its subjectivity in a different way, and that’s what anthropologists are shouting at each other about right now. [FK laughs]
An approach where instead of claiming your tastes are the best, claims your tastes are being bracketed and aren’t being used. So the first really useful academic approaches to the fandoms and the taste communities at the core of fan culture have been approaches that pretended that the tastes of the writer and the tastes of the scholar were not in play and not relevant. People writing books about, like, Star Trek slash were by and large not people telling you what was the best Star Trek slash because it contained the best wisdom about human life. With the exception of Joanna Russ, who had come up as an English department academic. Yay, Joanna Russ!
They were people coming from the social sciences with tools that were developed so that you could talk about taste communities and cultural practices where neither you nor your audience was really really into them as matters of their own taste. And so that enabled the basis of fan studies in the interpretive social sciences, right? And in communications departments, where it still thrives. But the price of that was that there were these books that were written using the vocabulary and the terms that came from certain branches of sociology and anthropology and communications, where you couldn’t—or at least you weren’t encouraged to—speak of individual works of art or your own reactions to them in the aesthetic and formal terms—or in, frankly, the emotional terms that are why I’m there in the first place, and why a lot of people in fan studies are there in the first place.
And the work of bringing fan studies communities that come from—Flourish, media studies, which you know something about and correct me if I’m getting this wrong, please correct me if I’m getting this wrong—the work of bringing methods and approaches and academic norms that come from communications, media studies, anthropology, sociology, interdisciplinary women’s and gender studies departments, to a point where pure writing and individual investment and emotional work and frankly style can be described accurately? That’s work that’s really important to me, and I’m watching it happen in people I read. I’m coming from the other direction, where style and individual reactions to works of art in a history of works of art and artists come first. And the challenge for me as a critic is to acknowledge my situatedness, and think about how to address the communities and the histories and the politics around who encounters what, without abandoning my desire to say “this is why I love this and don’t like that.”
FK: So it’s funny, because at first when you started saying this I was like “Oh, I had something really good to say to what Elizabeth said, and now you’re going down this other rabbit hole,” but then you came back around to the thing Elizabeth was saying, which was—
ELM: Flourish it’s like we’re watching your journey of how to have a conversation. You’re like “I already had an answer! But now you already came back from my…” [talking over each other inaudible]
FK: No no no but—
ELM: Continue continue, tell me what it is! [laughing]
FK: Where you started, you were saying it’s frustrating that people talk about like Victorian audiences and they don’t say “fans,” they don’t engage in that way, did I misunderstand?
ELM: Yeah, people are definitely, there are…and actually there’s a conference I really wanted to go to that our former guest Evan is coordinating, but I’m not going to be in England at the time. Audience studies does sometimes couch it in those terms, but a lot of people don’t.
FK: Yeah, the reason I was gonna say that is I think this is actually back to what Steph just identified—which I thought was really insightful—the idea that instead of looking at terms or whatever, you’re looking at the social groups. And if people are not behaving in exactly the same ways as people are behaving today on a community level, in certain ways, then people are like “Oh well, we’re not gonna use the term fans,” sometimes, even when there’s an emotional reaction that clearly is fannish, right? This maybe gets back to to our differences in the way we talk about fandom.
ELM: I wasn’t talking about using the word “fan,” and I think you get hung up on the term “fan,” no offense, Flourish [laughs]
SB: Have I caused a fight?!
ELM: Well, I just like…
FK: No no no, I misunderstood what you were saying, so…
ELM: I think this is a thing that you are wont to do—now I feel like I’m attacking you, and that’s not a negative thing. I’ve even noticed this when we’ve talked about, like…
SB: Wait, did you mean me or did you mean Flourish?
ELM: No no Flourish. Flourish. We can fight later if you want, we’ll have to find something to fight about.
SB: Oh no.
ELM: I feel like we agree on a lot of things actually.
SB: I feel like I’m in the back of a car [all laugh] and we’re going someplace really good but you’re arguing about directions.
ELM: And your moms are fighting right now!
ELM: Um, no, I think that it’s not about whether you use the term “fan,” it’s exactly what Steph was saying, it’s about acknowledging that feelings. Affect. Right? It’s acknowledging that, and an 18th or 19th century scholar writing their feelings…they had tons of feelings about Paradise Lost, you know? It’s not just a formal critique!
SB: And this is a huge problem even within the part of literary academia which I’m most comfortable in—which is a fairly formalist, “put the microscope on the individual poem rather than study the whole historical period” part of literary academia, where a lot of poetry criticism has been, like, bloodless and weirdly uninterested in how human beings have emotions when that’s why we’re writing the damn things in the first place. And the present-day living poetry critic who’s sort of meant the most to me in a lot of ways—and if you know my published work you’ll know who this is, and she’s great—is somebody whose really significant emotional investments as far as I know have all been throughout her life in high-culture, high-prestige objects. This is not someone who’s seen any of the Marvel movies, except inasmuch as parents kind of feel like they have to. But part of her goal throughout her writing life, and she said so explicitly, has been to sort of put the feeling back into poetry criticism, to say “No, we like this…we like this 16-line lyric, not just because the words balance or because it gives us a philosophical insight into the meaning of meaning of meaning, but because this is what it’s like to feel all alone in the world and to have no way to express it except by putting words together.” Putting the feeling into criticism is really important to me.
And it frustrates me that fan studies and audience studies at best attribute feelings to third parties who are examined as groups while denying sort of the feelings of the individual doing the writing, and at worst pretend that nobody has feelings. Because why are we here? Why did all of these people go to the opera in the 19th century? They cared! A lot of my job, and jobs like mine, is explaining why other people cared or why I care in a way that maybe will help you care. And we have different tools to do that in different spaces, in different academic spaces and in different extraordinarily nonacademic spaces. When you leave a comment on something that you like on AO3, and when you file something in the New Yorker that’s 1,200 words about a movie, and when you or I send 9,000 words to certain periodicals saying “This is why this book of poems that only 500 people have purchased ever seems extraordinarily innovative,” the work done in those three kinds of language use is some of the same work, even though it’s done using a different vocabulary, a different length, different tools.
SB: Thank you! YAY AGREE! I’m bouncing up and down.
FK: I don’t know that I disagree, but I do kinda have a problem with the characterization of fan studies as denying feeling in people. In, I mean, one of the most quoted things is talking about why are we fans, we’re fascinated and frustrated with something. Right? Talking about sort of…
ELM: There’s something cerebral, very very detached about those words, though. I think those are, you know what I mean?
FK: I don’t disagree with saying that there’s a discussion of…I’m not saying there’s not a formalization and a desire to sort of formalize it, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that people aren’t attentive to the fact that there’s feeling in there. It’s just that in order to talk about the feeling it’s like, well, we need to sort of build a wall of talking about feeling in academic terms.
SB: I agree with Flourish and disagree with myself. [all laugh and talk over each other] I was painting with too broad a brush, and I sort of started reading people who were doing fan studies before I thought of myself as someone who would ever do it, and I got frustrated by somebody like Camille Bacon-Smith—not in the Star Trek book, but in her book about the science fiction community—because that’s a really good example at least for me of someone who was denying her own situatedness and denying her own feelings while writing about other people’s feelings. And you kinda have to do that if you’re coming from a social science background, and other people who sort of helped invent fan studies like Henry Jenkins did that less. But I wasn’t reading his work as early in my career as reader.
FK: And you’re also not wrong that there is that formalization, and I think that you’re probably right about Bacon-Smith.
ELM: But, and I don’t mean this as a…if you go back to the original question, hopefully I’ve framed it in the way that I meant, which is to say that my disappointment is not with fan studies, and there are so many scholars that I respect and love, and I definitely think they talk plenty about feeling and affect and stuff like that—though it is true that I think that, because of the forms that people are working within, they’re not really allowed to talk about their own feelings, even though it’s very obviously there on the surface, when there’s people presenting the work and you’re like “Yeah, you love this too.”
SB: And sometimes it’s like a game…
FK: Yeah, but there is the term of “aca-fan,” right? That was the entire idea of using the term “aca-fan,” although I think it’s gotten diluted and not…
ELM: I think people are pushing back against that because it’s a weird, extra thing to tag on, “I’m also a fan,” right? I’ve talked to other aca-fans about this, and I feel the same way as a fandom journalist too. It’s like, and I often feel like I have to…to kind of clarify that some of the stuff that I talk about I don’t actually care about on a fannish level whatsoever. Yesterday a friend of mine was like, oh, he was…all right, shout out to my friend, but he was sending me comics stuff and I said, “Hey, you know, I’m not into comics, this isn’t my fandom and I don’t understand why you’re sending me all this.” And he’s like “Well, you cared so much about Nazi Captain America…” and I was like, “I…I was paying attention as a journalist! And I find it offensive! But I don’t really care about Captain America. I care about fans being hurt. I care about the harm Marvel might be doing. But I am not a Captain America fan, no offense to literally everyone I know,” except maybe the two of you? [laughter]
FK: If I had to pick one in the Marvel universe it would be Cap, so maybe, you know.
ELM: Well, offense meant to you. [laughter] No, he’s fine! Fine. You know what I mean? So I feel like sometimes I occupy a weird position too, where I have to pay attention to stuff I don’t really care about because it’s in the conversation and I need to see if people are engaging, you know what I mean?
SB: I do, and I don’t want to paint people where fan studies is their academic field with too broad a brush, and honestly, if I had come into this set of conversations later I probably would not have that kind of frustration of the same level. I’m frustrated really with the way that when I wanna read something about, like, why I care about Elizabeth Bishop, there’s a vocabulary that I understand that—honestly, it’s not just like “why do I love this” it’s “this is a work of art that someone really worked to make,” that it’s worth describing it as beautiful and meaningful and in great detail without having to care how many copies she sold.
And then when I wanna read about something that, instead of being made by Elizabeth Bishop, was made by Chris Claremont, Paul Smith and Louise Simonson, it’s possible to write about their work with the same level of care and attention to detail—but it’s almost impossible to have a job where that’s what you have to do. If you wanna have a job where you’re writing about work of that kind, your job has to involve how many copies did it sell and did it elect any candidates and reading all of the letter columns and you have to use a different tool-kit.
ELM: As if you were reviewing a fic on AO3 and you had to think about how popular the author was and how many kudos the story got—which you might, in the back of your head!
SB: And that’s interesting, but you shouldn’t have to, you shouldn’t have to. I want all of the kinds of art and all of the kinds of art-making that I care about to receive the kind of respect for the work and for the artist that I am used to seeing, like, high-prestige high-culture poetry get and deserve. That’s what I want.
FK: But I think it’s not just that, OK, and maybe this is because you two are critics and I think you both believe in your own taste. And Elizabeth, you noticed this about me when we were trying to pick the fic for our next special episode. Right?
ELM: Oh yeah, now we’re gonna get meta. Let’s talk about this!
FK: No, we are gonna get meta because I think this is actually really important.
SB: We’re already meta!
FK: When I think about people I know who, my grandfather the English professor loved Nabokov. I like Nabokov too—and probably partially because of him—but he had no shame about his fanboyishness for Virginia Woolf and for Nabokov and for all of these people who I have sort of gotten into through him and also love now, but he was sure that he was right. Right? About liking those things.
SB: And that’s kind of not OK, but it’s also OK?
FK: Right, but then I think about even my ability to pick a fanfic to ask Elizabeth to read, I was so nervous picking anything.
FK: I genuinely was like, first of all, I’m not sure that I can…I’m not sure that I can suggest fanfic to other people that’s not under a social sciences rubric of things you could learn about the fan community. Because I feel comfortable in that rubric, I feel comfortable saying “I know this, let’s show you.”
ELM: But that’s not the question here at all.
FK: Exactly. When I have to think about taste I’m like “Shit, my taste is crap, it’s always been crap, I know it’s crap because I love all these things that are crap that people has always told me are crap.”
SB: But they’re not! They’re not crap!
FK: Even though I don’t believe that intellectually anymore, emotionally I still have this convincing you know?
ELM: No, you’re right, Flourish, your taste is bad and…oh my God! [laughing at the face Flourish made]
SB: [laughing] I’M STILL IN THE BACK SEAT! [all talking over each other]
FK: I’m afraid of being wrong about this! It really freaked me out when I realized that I have so little confidence in my own taste…
ELM: I’m sorry!
FK: And I think a lot of other people who like fanfiction, even if they’re excited about fic, share…maybe they share that. Maybe other people share that. When I see other people talk in this way, I feel like they must.
SB: I have two thoughts about this, one of which has to do with the situatedness of taste and of criticism in general, and one of which is specific to some kinds of art of which much but not all fanfic is one. So can I—they’re separate.
SB: First, if you wanna explain why you love what you love and how you think it works from an aesthetic or formal or appreciative perspective, and you do it long enough and you’re not a dick, you start thinking about your own situatedness and where your taste comes from. And when you do that, you think about whether and how and when you can separate things that shaped your taste, like demographic identity markers, right? I’m white, I’m a lady, I’m a trans lady, I’m privileged, I’m from the East Coast rather than being from Texas or Colombia. How much can you extricate those things or bracket those things and say “No, I like this because it’s wise, it’s complicated, it does justice to the tragic nature of experience and the necessity of organizing, and it teaches you good listening skills.” [laughter]
Those are really hard questions to answer and you can never be sure you’re right! And my meta-answers are: you have to know that those are always open questions or you’re a bad critic. But, it’s still OK to say “here’s why I love what I love,” you just have to have a disclaimer somewhere and you have to be able to acknowledge that everybody’s situated and so your recommendations are not gonna be valid for everyone. And if you have a large enough word count, which I do when I write books, you say that, and you fucking say that over and over, and you recommend multiple things so you’re not putting all your eggs in one thing that maybe you only like cause you’re from DC or cause you’re trans or whatever. If you only have 800 words, cause it’s the New York Times book review, you just kind of hope that goes without saying, and you acknowledge it elsewhere, because I do wanna get people to see things that I love. And you encourage gatekeepers and editors to hire and reward critics whose situatedness is different from yours.
So, that’s my answer to the general “How do you handle I’m situated, why should I recommend anything, what if my taste is crap, what if there’s no such thing as taste.” And I think there is. So should I answer the other question that’s specific to “Why does Flourish feel like so much is crap, why do people who read a lot of fanfic feel like it’s crap?”
FK: I think it’s less that “we think,” I think it’s less “thinking that it’s crap” and more “thinking that I might be crap in addition to it.” [laughing]
ELM: You recommend a fic and I read it and I’m like, for full context, it’s because I recommended a masterpiece. [SB laughs]
FK: It is!
ELM: So I set the bar quite high!
FK: And I genuinely thought “I will never—even though I like a lot of fics, I’m never gonna be able to recommend a fic that is this good, and what’s more you have real taste and I have fake taste.”
SB: You guys, the light turned green! Can’t you just, like, drive?! I’m gonna retire the metaphor. [all laugh] I love being in this car, but. Should I give the second part of this answer which has to do with why…
FK: Do it, do it, do it!
SB: I just gave an answer that was sort of geared to high-culture taste communities—but really to all taste communities—about the situatedness of all criticism and all recommendation and why it’s great to explain why you love things anyway. This answer’s specific to, like, low-prestige taste communities, why do people who are heavily invested in low-prestige taste communities,—which I also am—so often feel a thing I used to feel and no longer feel—and this happens, like pop music too. “Maybe I’m crap if my taste is crap, how can I make a recommendation? What’s wrong with me that I love this low-prestige work so much?” Which, like, Zan Romanoff’s novel is so good at. I almost wanna say all of the answers I’m gonna give are actually in Grace and the Fever, so why am I even talking? Just go read Grace and the Fever! But I’ll say it anyway: Zan Romanoff, if you’re out there, thank you.
It’s not just fanfic and it’s not just boy band fan communities that have this. The sentimental novel had this. The novel itself in the early 18th century, just prose fiction about realistic people in general, had this. [laughter] Several different kinds of music communities had this. I suspect that certain kinds of artmaking right now where the art is not in English, where it’s connected to an immigrant community, have this, although I don’t know because almost all my art consumption is Anglophone. And writing that we would now call porn, from the ’60s and ’70s, Samuel Delany’s good about this and he wrote some of this, had this a lot.
The common thread here is that these were genres and kinds of writing or kinds of music that were sexually explicit, or addressed to a subordinated social group and that social group’s concern, or both. So identifying yourself and trying to make public your taste in any of these things including early 18th century novels or gay porn in the early ’70s was saying, “I’m a member of this out-group and its concerns are my concerns and that’s why I care about this genre,” or it was saying “I really wanna talk about sexy things in public.” And so if explaining your taste and describing your aesthetic criteria requires you to do either of those things, then you’re gonna say “maybe I shouldn’t do this, maybe it reflects badly on me if I do this.”
And again, this isn’t specific to fanfic! It happens even around, if you look at the history of people writing about performance poetry, if you look at who writes about Essex Hemphill—who is a primarily performance poet, like, most of whose work had to do with people of color and with HIV positive people in the ’80s—and the answer to that, honestly—and I use Essex Hemphill as an example advisedly—the answer to that is if you really love something, and it means a lot to you, and you have the kind of personal security where you’re not gonna be fired or kicked off your insurance or kicked out of your house for explaining, or damage people you’re close to, by explaining why you like it, fucking go for it! Just say “Here is why I love this, obviously not everyone will love this, here’s how the genre works, here’s why this is an especially good example of this genre,” and you don’t have to do that, right? You don’t, if I had to write about why I love all the works of art that I love, or even just all the poetry that I love, I would never make dinner and my partner would have to make dinner every night and I’d be a bad human being, right. [all laugh]
No individual who loves a particular fic or a particular work of porn or a particular detective novel—cause detective novels used to be this! They were easier to rescue partly because they were about dudes, but detective fiction used to be this. It was cheap paper, it was supposed to be terrible, it was for boys, whatever. But it’s important that someone do this. Because it’s important that works of art that people have labored over, that have given so much pleasure and emotional support to people, it’s important that those works of art be acknowledged as works of art and it’s important that somebody fucking do this.
And that’s true for, honestly, Flourish, you’re not—you don’t publish the same kinds of writing that I am publishing, and I couldn’t do what you do. But here you are, running a podcast that to some extent does this, right? Everybody does their critical and metacritical work in different ways, but the answer to “why do I feel like my taste is worse, or why does it make me feel like crap,” is to say no, nobody is crap for liking a particular kind or genre, and if something is making you feel that way that—I’ve quoted this same fucking Adrienne Rich poem like 10 times this week, cause it’s great: “This way of grief is shared, unnecessary, and political.” It is political to say “I know I’m situated, and now I’m gonna tell you why I think Wordsworth is still great.”
And by the way, Wordsworth is really conscious of the situatedness of taste when he’s good, which is early in his career. [all laugh] It’s political to say that if you’re writing about Wordsworth, and it’s political to say—and we’ve read pieces, and this is what fan studies does at its best, honestly, and what Joanna Russ did—it’s political, and it’s really useful to say “I love this, here’s why, I’m obviously situated, if you feel like crap for loving this or feel like you’re not allowed to love this ask why, cause you love what you love.” And then you can go to, like, debating the relative merits of two or three or ten works of art of the same kind. Which is always a useful debate to have. I’m sorry, that was a lot! That was a lot.
ELM: No no, it was incredible!
FK: It was a good lot.
ELM: Combination college lecture and therapy section for Flourish. [all hoot with laughter]
FK: As our podcasts often are!
ELM: Flourish, you have to pay for therapy. [all laugh] This is emotional labor that we’re performing for free for you. Go to a therapist!
FK: Some days, I really think I might stab you. [all laugh]
SB: If you stab, if one of you stabs the other, this car is going to crash. [all laugh] And here I am in the back seat and, that would not be a good outcome! I will say that I can think immediately of at least three podcasts that I’ve never been on, where I’m purely a listener, where individual episodes of that podcast have absolutely served therapy-ish functions for me in various points over just the last year.
ELM: That’s excellent.
FK: Good, good, good.
ELM: No, I think the therapy’s fine. I think that, yeah, obviously I agree with all of this and it’s also like…what’s the worst that happens?
SB: “What’s the worst that happens” depends on who you are. There are people who actually can’t…
ELM: Oh absolutely. Oh no. I don’t mean to diminish any of that. I mean in this particular instance that prompted this therapy session.
FK: YOU MIGHT MAKE FUN OF ME, ELIZABETH.
ELM: I already make fun of you.
FK: OK, that’s true, the worst has already happened.
ELM: It’s already happened!
FK: In fact, it’s happening in this moment. [laughter]
ELM: And you’re surviving it, you know?!
SB: One thing that I actually think about, that I’m still thinking about…what’s the best way to address this…that isn’t a problem for everyone, but it’s definitely a thing that I think about and that I see a lot with my friends: danah boyd, who’s not a fan studies person, who’s not a humanities person, who’s a sociologist of life on the internet, wrote a book that I really like about growing up on the internet and how today’s digital native teens are different and they’ll be fine and it’s very anti-alarmist. It’s a book that says the real problem with today’s teens isn’t people being online, that’s mostly a solution to problems, the real problem is class inequality. So one of the things that danah boyd found was, and this book is a couple years old but I think it’s really good, I believe the book is called It’s Complicated, so you’ve read it? You own it?
ELM: I actually had to read part of it in grad school, but I didn’t read all of it, so.
SB: Oh, OK. I read it so that I could write about the youngest poet and the digital-ish poet in this book of 60 essays and 60 poems that I did last year. And this book just stayed with me. So she writes about collapsing context, which is what happens when someone who only knows you on Facebook encounters you on AO3, what happens when someone who only knows you from your Twitter persona takes your class. Right? The people, the teens who she was studying were kind of blindsided by this happening. It didn’t, they didn’t expect it. It’s a thing that can be very weird even when you expect it, and it means that a lot of us, a lot of people who listen to this podcast, are like, curating or being careful about our presence in one space, so that if somebody from another part of our social life or another space finds out it’s not the end of the world.
I think a lot about how to handle that as a critic, because in order to be a good person, and in order to be an effective teacher of undergraduates, some of whom are minors, I wanna follow a certain set of rules. And in order to be a critic who loves and wants to explain at length why I love, a whole bunch of writing that has pretty explicit content, I wanna do something else. Some of that writing is actually poetry by D.A. Powell, it’s not just fic.
So those are questions that vex me, and I hope I’ve answered them correctly, and my rule for how to answer them are be respectful of other people’s secrets and other people’s privacy and other people’s boundaries and don’t reveal anything about my tastes and my interests and my history that doesn’t belong to me, but if it’s 100% about me, there’s gotta be some space where I can represent that. Usually as a critic. And the question of collapsing contexts and overlapping contexts is a question that I sort of thought of and went back to, because I was in, how do we write about sexually explicit work? How do critics address this?
If you wanna write a book on Samuel R. Delany and address all of Delany’s work, none of which is…which was pseudonymous at the time but which all has been attributed since, you can’t do that and be a high school teacher probably, you’ll be fired. But you can be a college teacher. But you have to think as a writer and as a critic and as a scholar about what criteria you say and what you address when, when you’re dealing with certain, how to describe certain communities. And that’s specific, not even to the low-prestige stuff but to the explicitness that is part of why some of us are in some genres. Whether or not you would call that art-making and that audience space a fandom. Does that make sense?
FK: OK, I think that we’re about at the time to wrap up Part 1. So why don’t we take a pause, we’ll wrap up Part 1, and do a couple of housekeeping things, and then we can have the second half of this conversation on next week’s podcast.
ELM: Next two weeks’ podcast.
FK: Ugh, next two weeks’ podcast. You know. The next one! The next one.
SB: The next one.
ELM: We’re devoting all of February to you.
FK: All of February.
SB: Yikes, I hope I’m worth it!
ELM: All right. We’ll talk about, this was wonderful and I can’t wait for all the stuff we’ll talk about in Part 2!
ELM: That was a lot of answers!
FK: A lot of answers. And hopefully the questions we asked were not dumb!
ELM: Or not asked in a dumb way.
FK: There we go, that’s the way to put it.
ELM: Yeah. I hope so! We’ll find out. Only Stephanie can tell us.
FK: Only Stephanie. We’ll have to ask her about that.
ELM: So in the interest of full disclosure, since you know that we already recorded the entire conversation, that stopping point, that was a good topical wrapping-up point, and for the rest of the episode—which will be the next one—we talked about trans stuff. I know that she full-time transitioned publicly, coming out as trans to all, within the last few years…?
FK: Yeah, it’s been sort of a journey that she’s shared really publicly, and has gone through over the past few years, and has also talked a lot about the role that poetry but also pop culture and fandom has played in that. So she has a lot of insight into identity and story.
ELM: That latter bit, it’s gonna be not just talking about trans identity but like, through the lens of fandom.
FK: Yeah. Absolutely. So I’m excited to share that with everybody, and then after we’ve done that it’s about a half an hour, we’ll do some listener mail, catch up on some stuff, you know! The us’.
ELM: The us’?! That’s grim. We have a letter from Jenny about our fandom and capitalism episode, so we can dig into that because we love that topic!
FK: And money.
ELM: No, that’s not a “we” that’s a “you.” [FK laughs] I wouldn’t say no to money. If you were like, “You want some money?” I’d be like “OK.” I’m not anti-money.
FK: Glad you cleared that up for us.
ELM: On a personal level…! Anyway, I feel like that’s it for now. We should probably do some of our housekeeping bits.
FK: Yes, absolutely! So as you probably know, we have a Patreon, which you can get to at patreon.com/fansplaining. We are supported by listeners like you, and if you pledge that Patreon, you’re helping keep us on the air or in your computer or your phone or wherever you listen to us. Lots of tiers of rewards for that. So. That’s one way you can support us.
ELM: I thought you meant T-E-A-R-S.
FK: Just crying with how rewarding it is.
ELM: There have been some tears in this podcast.
ELM: Yeah, undeniable. And so our most popular award is the $3-a-month, which means you get access to our special episodes and we are recording one this weekend.
FK: And we talked about it in this episode in fact! That fic.
ELM: You didn’t actually name it, should we name it here?
FK: Yes, it’s “Truth and Measure” by Telanu, so femslash February it up, guys, it’s Devil Wears Prada, Miranda and Andy.
ELM: Yeah, so we’ll be recording that, and that should be out next week, so yeah! If you enjoy hearing us talk about fanfiction sort of as a piece of literature, then you should pledge.
FK: For sure. And if you don’t have any spare cash to share at the moment, there’s still things you can do to support us! For instance, rating us on iTunes is a huge help, it helps people find us or just spreading the word. Telling people about Fansplaining.
ELM: [laughs] It’s so cheesy!
FK: You can also go to… [break for ELM laughter] our website which is fansplaining.com and leave us comments. We have an open ask box, anon is on, you can also email email@example.com and those comments are incredibly incredibly fun for us to get and we love talking about them and thinking about them. If you feel like it you can even leave us a voice mail, there’s a number listed at the top of fansplaining.com. Call that number, leave us a voice mail, we will play your voice on the air and then we won’t slaughter the intonation of the thing you wrote.
ELM: That’s true. Cause we do. 100%. I think the final thing is we have a Medium, medium.com/fansplaining, and in this Year of our Lord 2018 I am making a serious commitment to having more writing up there, which we can pay for with the pledges from Patreon, so I just reached out to some people and a whole bunch of people sent me some great pitches. So we’re gonna have stuff in the next six months coming out about some personal stuff, about fanfiction, and comics, multiple people wanna write about race in fandom, I’m super excited about that, so I think we’re gonna have some good stuff. And then also you’re gonna write about language!
FK: Yeah, yeah! It’s in progress right now, writing about different terms people use for fannish things.
ELM: In case you saw those posts on Twitter and Tumblr that people were loving cause they were saying, the question was “Do you say ship in your language or do you have a new word for that? Did it come from the English?” and it’s just really interesting to see the way these relatively recent and specific terms kind of would travel around the global internet, you know?
FK: Yeah, for sure. So if you were tracking that, it was kinda hard to keep track of all the things people said, and so I’ll be distilling it all into a post.
ELM: That’s right! So yeah. Check out the Medium, medium.com/fansplaining, and not to plug it endlessly, but if you have some cash to spare it’s gonna go towards supporting that writing and hopefully commissioning some art for those pieces as well, so that’d be really helpful!
FK: Hooray, I think that’s it!
ELM: One final thing—I need to clarify this before we go into the credits, I had drinks with the lovely hosts of “Fathoms Deep,” the Black Sails podcast, over the weekend and they told me…well, Daphne told me, hi Daphne, that she thought when we said “in honor of One Direction and Captain Flint” those were just us naming our favorite fandom things.
FK: Oh no, those are people who have given money to us and asked us to say things in honor of One Direction and of Captain Flint! Those are two separate people.
ELM: Yeah. I just wanted to clarify that, so it didn’t look like we were just desperately tossing in…I don’t even know if you would even say “in honor of One Direction” yourself at this point.
FK: I think I would say “in honor of Saint Harry Styles,” if I were gonna pick.
ELM: You wouldn’t pick, like, the entire Star Trek universe? Or your trash son Kylo Ren?
FK: I might change it every time, you know. In honor of the great soul, the great great soul of Benjamin Sisko. Like…
ELM: That’s a Star Trek thing, isn’t it.
FK: It is. He’s very spiritual. And also space Dad. Not in a kinky way.
ELM: And I would…I was gonna say I would always say James Flint, but sometimes I’d probably shout out to Thomas Hamilton. Anyway so just to clarify, just to clarify, those are pledges, not just us being self-indulgent, and I gave us the opportunity to be self-indulgent now by talking about the things we love for 30 seconds.
FK: True. OK. I will talk to you later, Elizabeth.
ELM: I’m gonna go write some fanfiction about Thomas Hamilton.
ELM: Bye bye!
[Outro music, thank yous and disclaimers]