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Episode 80: Real Person Fiction

In Episode 80, “Real Person Fiction,” Elizabeth and Flourish are joined by Aja Romano, internet culture writer at Vox, to discuss RPF: writing fiction about celebrities and other real, living people. Topics covered include stigma towards RPF within fandom and in the broader culture; the many ways real people turn up in all sorts of art; and what happens when a celebrity encounters online discourse about themselves. They also discuss a listener message about one of Fansplaining’s favorite...


Episode 79: Who Is Comic-Con For?

In Episode 79, Elizabeth and Flourish try to answer the question “Who Is Comic-Con For?” They talk about their experience at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, the third time they’ve attended the event together after meeting on a panel there in 2015, and consider the con from different angles. How has the arrival of film and TV franchise attention changed SDCC? And from consumer behavior to celebrity-watching culture, how does SDCC construct an idea of “fandom” for entertainment industry execs?


Episode 78: The Fan Studies Network

In Episode 78, “The Fan Studies Network,” Elizabeth attends the Fan Studies Network’s annual academic conference in Cardiff, Wales, and interviews the founders of the FSN, Lucy Bennett and Tom Phillips. Back in the U.S., she and Flourish discuss some of the most exciting things she heard at the conference, the intersections and tensions between academics and non-academic fans, and the ways in which diversity is still a challenge for fan studies.


Episode 77: The Truth About Toxic Fandom

In Episode 77, “The Truth About Toxic Fandom,” Elizabeth and Flourish examine a few widely-held conceptions about “toxic fandom,” also known as “broken” or “entitled” fandom. They explore whether these behaviors are inherent to being a fan, the culpability of both social media platforms and the producers and creators of source material, and how abusive fan behavior looks depending on the demographics of a fan community.


Episode 76: Camp Austen

In episode 76, “Camp Austen,” Flourish and Elizabeth talk to with Ted Scheinman, the author of Camp Austen, a book about his experiences at an Austen con attended by academics and fans (and academic/fans, too!). They also read a trio of listener letters: two on redemption and antiheroes and one on AUs and reading fanfiction by trope.


Episode 75: Bad Fans

In Episode 75, “Bad Fans,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss Emily Nussbaum’s concept of the “bad fan”: people who read against the expectations of the source material to celebrate the bad behavior of characters, from anti-heroes to villains. They then discuss a listener letter about the concept of redemption: what makes a character redeemable? Do all characters deserve to be redeemed? How does fandom grant redemption? Finally, they discuss alternate universes—yes, again.


Episode 74: Ask Fansplaining Anything: Part 1

In Episode 74, “Ask Fansplaining Anything: Part 1,” Flourish and Elizabeth answer a pile of listener letters from the past few months. Some touch on recent episodes, from more observations about fan tourism to critique of the discussion on alternate universe fic. Others pose new questions, on topics including the Society for Creative Anachronism, aging into or out of fandom, fic-searching and tagging methods, how to make fandom friends, and ways to help your family understand why fandom is...


Episode 73: Ship It

In Episode 73, “Ship It,” Flourish and Elizabeth welcome back Britta Lundin, writer on the CW’s Riverdale, to discuss her debut YA novel, Ship It. Topics covered include writing craft, fannish interpretations versus production realities, drawing lines on RPF, how much fans should care about canon, and how to explain shipping to someone who doesn’t understand it—whether that’s your mother or the editor of your book.


Episode 72: Alternate Universes

In Episode 72, Flourish always knew that someday she’d hear the words written on her wrist— In Episode 72, Elizabeth is a florist. Every day Flourish walks past her flower shop and— In Episode 72, “Alternate Universes,” Elizabeth and Flourish are joined by Morgan Leigh Davies, co-host of the “Overinvested” podcast, to discuss alternate universe fanfiction. Topics covered include the relationship between canon and fanon, the “any two guys” trope, how AUs can raise or lower stakes, and the...


Episode 71: Lori Morimoto

In Episode 71, Elizabeth and Flourish welcome back fan-scholar Dr. Lori Morimoto, who was last on the podcast in 2016 to talk about shipping and activism with Rukmini Pande. This time, she digs into transcultural fandom, including concepts like “contact zones” and “ontological security,” and how fan communities define themselves by what they include—and what they exclude. They also discuss the current state of fan studies, from its boundaries as a discipline to advice for current students...


Episode 70: "Our Most Passionate Fans"

In Episode 70, “Our Most Passionate Fans,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss the ways that corporate America interacts with fandom—especially when fandom behaves badly—through the lens of the Rick and Morty/McDonalds Szechuan Sauce debacle. (Spoiler: corporate America does not do well.) They also continue to discuss fan tourism and read a listener letter about what happens when your own fandom descends on your town.


Episode 69: Fan Tourism

In Episode 69, “Fan Tourism,” Elizabeth and Flourish consider the different ways that people travel to experience their fandom, settling on a spectrum of fan tourism, spanning immersion into a fictional place to craft-focused television set visits. They also discuss being a fan of a source material set in a culture or time period other than your own, the differences between Disney and Universal Studios, breaking the (traditional theater sense of) the fourth wall, and whether Elizabeth is a...


Episode 68: Stephanie Burt: Part 2

In Episode 68, “Stephanie Burt: Part 2,” Elizabeth and Flourish wrap up their conversation with poet, professor, and X-fan Stephanie Burt, covering topics from transitioning in public view to allegorical versus literal representation to queer themes in superhero comics. They also discuss a pair of listener letters: one on fandom, capitalism, and ethical behavior, and one on fanfiction’s prominence on both the podcast and within the sphere of fandom commentary at large.


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.


Episode 66: The Humanizing Turn

In Episode 66, “The Humanizing Turn,” Elizabeth and Flourish use a Star Wars meta that Flourish recently published as a jumping-off point to discuss tropes, characterization, and what we want from stories, in both canon and fanfiction. When do we grant stories complexity—and when do we simplify them, slotting characters into archetypes? They round out the discussion by responding to a listener question about “anti culture” and how both the methods and the content of anti-shipping have...


Episode 65: Fandom and Capitalism

In Episode 65, “Fandom and Capitalism,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss exactly what it says on the tin: fandom and capitalism, from a variety of different angles. First they read a thought-provoking listener letter about how market pressures spur more diversity on our screens—and whether fans’ own “corrective” ecosystems might be doing harm by cutting off that feedback loop. Then they consider the case of Marvel’s recently-announced “Create Your Own,” a comics creator platform with an...


Episode 64: The Year in Fandom 2017

In Episode 64, “The Year In Fandom 2017,” Elizabeth and Flourish talk about...the year in fandom! Sticking to tradition, they start by recapping their 2016 list and seeing how those trends have evolved over the past year; then they dive into a new list of trends and themes from 2017. Topics covered include the limits of fandom mainstreaming, shipping and social justice activism, and fandom and the #MeToo movement. And they wrap up with a discussion of their personal years in fandom, which...


Episode 63: Fanworks and Counterfeits

In Episode 63, “Fanworks and Counterfeits,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss a recent brouhaha in the Outlander fandom involving fan group closures, counterfeit merchandise, what counts as acceptable fanart to The Powers That Be, and more. Topics covered include historical knitting drama, the bounds of fair use, Scottish tourism woes, and the centralization of Facebook as a corporate power. They also read and discuss a listener letter about the appeal of YA fiction and talk frankly about the...


Episode 62: Adrian Hon

In Episode 62, Elizabeth and Flourish talk with Adrian Hon, co-founder and CEO of the independent game developer Six to Start and one of the creators of their most popular game, “Zombies, Run!” Topics covered include ARGs, moderating forums, POV in games, fan/creator interaction, accessibility in gaming, and more. Plus Flourish pitches him what will surely be the next big hit in fitness games, “Zombies, Lift!”


Episode 61: Episodic

In Episode 61, “Episodic,” Elizabeth and Flourish read a wide range of recent listener responses: on the purpose of fandom history, why adults read YA fiction, the difference between privacy and secrecy, and how happy endings and reader expectations vary across time and place. Then they discuss Elizabeth’s recent presentation at “Episodic,” a conference that brought episodic storytellers from different media together. Topics covered include why fandom is drawn to episodic content, different...