Fanfiction: Adult literacy impressions and the influence of fandom on educational practices

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Fanfiction is a valid form of literacy expression often overlooked in academic settings. This study used a mixed-methods approach to understand the facets of fanfiction reading and writing in adults. Survey data was first collected to understand who are the adults choosing to read and write fanfiction. Based on survey results, individual cases were selected. The cases looked at current adult fanfiction literacy practices juxtaposed against these participants' retrospective literacy journeys through fanfiction to understand how fanfiction reading, writing, and engagement in fandom could inform student literacy practices. This study found seven recurring themes in the data. Themes included the ideas of finding a sense of community within fanfiction affinity groups, using fanfiction as a secret escape, seeing themselves in the fanfiction they are reading and writing, believing that fanfiction is still literacy and that fanfiction should be used in the classroom. The study also revealed that fanfiction readers and writers consider many contemporary literary classics to be fanfiction and that using fanfiction in the classroom would impose challenges. Taking these themes into consideration, I looked at implications for how fanfiction could inform K-12 educators’ practices with “authentic” literacy tasks and recommended precautions when implementing fanfiction reading and writing in the classroom in the hope of building sustained engagement and motivation in K-12 literacy. While educators should be mindful of how and what they introduce as fanfiction, creating a fandom community in the classroom could not only build a community of readers and writers but could ensure literacy practices that thrive into adulthood.

Fanfiction, New Literacies, Authentic Literacy Practices, K-12 Literacy Implications