Alumni

October 30, 2017 at 8:50 am

English Alum Publishes Book on ‘Case for Fanfiction’

Ashley Barner '15

Ashley Barner ’15

Ohio University alum Ashley J. Barner ’15 Ph.D. has published her first book, The Case for Fanfiction: Exploring the Pleasures and Practices of a Maligned Craft, with McFarland.

Barner earned a Ph.D. in English from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO. The book has its foundations in her dissertation, which she defended in December 2015.

Book cover for The Case for Fanfiction: Exploring the Pleasures and Practices of a Maligned Craft The book examines the reasons “why people think fanfiction—and other popular fiction genres—are ‘bad literature,’” Barner explains. She examines the factors that prompt readers to deem a work “good” or “bad” literature, as well as books that readers refer to as “guilty pleasures.”

“It turns out that a lot of this is related to what I call ‘absorbed reading,’” Barner says. She defines that as “a reading practice (or viewing practice, in the case of television or film) in which the readers feel like they are in the story and experiencing it for themselves.

“Although a lot of people think of this as the normal practice for pleasure reading, there have been a lot of criticisms of this reading practice for literally centuries, especially when it’s women doing the absorbed reading. That’s why books like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, which encourage young women to read in this way, are seen as somehow psychologically and morally dangerous. It all actually comes back to misogyny. Fanfiction is a genre that comes directly from people (especially women) reading absorbedly.”

Barner also is the author of a fantasy novel, Blue Feathers, and some fanfiction. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family and their 14 cats.

Abstract: Challenging readers to rethink what they read and why, the author questions the aesthetic assumptions that have led to the devaluing of fanfiction—a genre criticized as both tasteless and derivative—and other “guilty pleasure” reading (and writing), including romance and fantasy. The complicated relationship between “fanfic” and intellectual property rights is discussed in light of the millennia-old tradition of derivative literature, before modern copyright law established originality as the hallmark of great fiction.“Absorbed reading”—the practice of immersing oneself in the narrative versus critically “reading from a distance”—is a strong motive for the appropriation by fanfiction of canon characters and worlds.

 

 

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