Fanfiction and Cultural Conversations

Fanfiction, an educator may disregard the value of these works in the classroom, but the choice to incorporate fanfiction in the curriculum isn't rooted in an assessment of the literary techniques or qualifications.  Rather, the use of culturally fuelled literature in the classroom finds roots in the act of encouraging student participation in the larger cultural conversations that are spurred by television, film and literature but all with foundations in the written word.

The written word may not always be readily seen as a viable medium to enter the conversations that are built upon pop culture. For example: a student may watch a film that is based on a novel but not consider reading the source material.  The missing link in this cycle of literature inspiring visual and more easily consumed works is the lack of understanding that the written word is the source that has spurred the cultural phenomena.  Therefore, the student is limited in participating in the cultural conversation if the source material has not been read.

As educators, it is possible to use the novels that inspire films and fanfiction as a teachable moment.  For example: consider the cultural movement created by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.  A student who has seen the films, referenced the films and bought products based on the franchise yet has never read the books, will miss the true and full experience.  Thus, the fanfiction that has followed can be used as material to be provided to these students.

Distributing fanfiction material to readers in this manner has a dual purpose.  The first is that the student is encouraged to read.  If the student enjoyed the novel that spurred the film or television series, the student will be likely to read more and seek more on their own.  The idea is that it teaches the student that reading can be pleasurable.

The second purpose for using fanfiction in the classroom is that the reluctant reader can make their own connections.  The realization of what material is drawn and generated through the written word is the first step for the student to discover the power that literature has in society.

As educators, we understand that fanfiction may not always model the best literary techniques.  However, the core of our job is to inspire learning.  For the reluctant reader, fanfiction may open the doors to discovering the power that the written word has in cultural conversations.

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.