ENGL 698 "Capstone: Fandom and Fan Studies"

Spring 2024 ~ T, 7:05-9:55 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Online Discussion

Class Discussion Schedule 

Professor Karin Westman
108B English/ Counseling Services; 532-2171
Office Hours: M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m. and by app't


Required Texts
Mark Duffett, Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture (2013) (Bloomsbury)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) (Scholastic)
Melissa Anelli, Harry, A History (2009) (Pocket Books)
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: The Revolution, Being the Complete Libretto of the Broadway Musical, with a True Account of its Creation, and Concise Remarks on Hip-Hop, The Power of Stories, and the New America (2016) (Hatchette)
Music and Film: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (2015), Hamilton (2020)
Online Class Pack for ENGL 698 (Available via Canvas)

Course Description
This course will offer an exploration of fan culture by way of theory and case studies. We'll read key theorists of fan studies to map the history of and new developments in the field of fan studies. We'll look closely at two active fandoms -- the fandom of Harry Potter and the fandom of Hamilton -- and enrolled students will select additional fandoms to study and share with the class as individual or joint final projects. Across the semester, we'll be attending to the power and authority of creator and fan, fan identities (in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, and nationality), fan activism, and fan creations (such as cos-play, fan art/music, re-storying).

Course Objectives
ENGL 698 "Capstone" is a writing- and discussion-intensive course which provides a culminating experience for the English major. Towards that larger goal, our course objectives parallel the program outcomes for English as follows:

Course Modality: We will meet in person for most class sessions, pending the need to go online for weather. On selected weeks (noted below on the schedule of classes with [A]), we will meet for a portion of our scheduled time, and you will complete an asynchronous activity (shared on Wednesday, due by 11:59pm on Friday) which will represent the balance of your weekly time in class.

Readings and Class Participation: Given the course objectives stated above, this class will foreground discussion. Class participation is therefore expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. This portion of your grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the online message board (further information below). Your goal is to be an active presence in the class: you should complete the reading and viewing assigned for each class session, think carefully about it, and be ready to share your ideas -- in class and online, synchronously and asynchronously.

Attendance: The University requires that students attend all classes in which they are enrolled, and so your attendance is required. Further, your attendance is important to the success of our discussions. However, I recognize that the unexpected will happen, especially during the ongoing pandemic. If you miss more than one weekly class session, or miss portions of several weekly class sessions, please contact me, so we can discuss your progress and identify the best path forward.

Class Discussion Questions: As part of the class participation grade, students will sign up to initiate discussion for one of our class sessions. Questions for class discussion (4-5 in number) should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address in our class discussion of the material assigned for that day. After drafting the questions, students leading discussion should email me their questions by 6 p.m. the night before; I will confirm receipt and offer any suggestions for the order or focus of the questions.

Online Message Board: As part of your class participation and to practice informal analytical writing, each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment (200-300 words) about the materials we’re reading and discussing in class. These posts are intended to help you do the following:
  • Prepare for or develop topics and ideas discussed in class
  • Prepare to engage in the public humanities by communicating your ideas and responding to those of your peers in a non-scholarly format

I will read these discussions and assess a grade (holistically, at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, their responsiveness to our readings, and their ability to "translate" scholarly discussions for a general audience. I'll provide weekly question prompts as I follow these conversations, and I may also participate, but I see the online discussion primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed -- or addressed fully or to your satisfaction -- during our regular class meetings. The work contributed to the message board can become source material for more formal writing assignments.

The weekly message board will run from Saturday to Friday, to encourage you to post right after as well as before our weekly class discussions, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check the board for others' postings. Postings will count for half (10%) of your class participation grade (20%). If you would like to know your message board grade to date at any point in the semester, please ask. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.

Paper, Final Project, and Response Papers: During the semester, you will be doing different kinds of critical writing: not only informal postings to the message board, but also more formal work. All students will write one shorter paper (4 pages in length) and complete a final project (6-7 pages in length).  You will have a choice of two topics for the shorter paper, and you will select a fandom of your choice for the final project.

You will also write two response papers (2 pp in length) in response to our readings. Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in a longer paper. They are due the day indicated on the syllabus. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide just a summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the primary and secondary reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant, if a prompt is not provided. I recommend that you select a word, phrase, or short quotation from the reading to initiate your response.
These formal writing assignments should follow the general rules of composition and be typed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 11- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, and spell-checked. Papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus. (Note: The University’s Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.
Multi-Media Fandom Project: You will choose one of four possible multi-media projects to complete during the semester. Your multi-media project can be submitted on any class day but must be turned in no later than Tuesday April 23. Each project should demonstrate insight and understanding of the text with which it connects, should be thoughtfully constructed, and should be presented professionally with attention to detail.  Refer to the grading rubrics (posted in Canvas as of January 23) for detailed grading criteria. The assignment will be distributed the second week of class, but here are brief descriptions:

Professional Development: During the semester, you will complete two of three types of tasks (e.g., participate in a career development workshop/activity, conduct an information interview, and complete a task selected in consultation with me) to help you translate your work in English to professional contexts and explore professional options.

Final Examination/Assessment: We will not have a final examination. However, I will ask to you complete a short assignment that asks you to reflect on your success in the course.

Online and video resources: Along with some required viewing (see the film listed under "Required Texts") and required online reading, I will refer you to resources available online or on video to complement our readings and discussions.  Links within the online "Schedule of Classes" will take you to related online resources. I will add and update these resources as the semester progresses; if you locate a site or page which you find valuable, please let me know, and I'll consider adding it to the existing links.

Email: I highly recommend email as a way of touching base with me about your work for the class -- a kind of virtual office hours. You can send me queries about reading or writing assignments, your thesis statement for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check my email throughout the day, but please remember that I am not perpetually online.

Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before exams or papers are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to set up an appointment during office hours (M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m.), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Chat GPT/Generative AI: As with other forms of technology, it is likely true that Chat GPT and other Large Language Models (LLMs) that we are calling generative AI will have uses for research and writing practice. One of the central purposes of this class, however, is to help you practice and develop as a writer of advanced work in English. At the core of that work is the principle that writing is a form of thought. It is one of the main ways that we work through our ideas, that we consider other sources, and that we engage, in detail, with texts of all different kinds. In other words, writing is a process and a method rather than a product. Given our goals, the use of Chat GPT or other AI generative technology detracts from the class’s purpose to help you develop as a writer and scholar. If there is a way in which you would like to use Chat GPT or AI as part of your writing process, you must meet with me first to discuss it. If such a use is approved, it must be cited in your work.

Honor Code: Kansas State University has an Honor and Integrity System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one's work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor and Integrity System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. The honor system website can be reached via the following URL: www.k-state.edu/honor. A component vital to the Honor and Integrity System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: "On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work." A grade of XF can result from a breach of academic honesty. The F indicates failure in the course; the X indicates the reason is an Honor Pledge violation

Students with Disabilities: At K-State it is important that every student has access to course content and the means to demonstrate course mastery. Students with disabilities may benefit from services including accommodations provided by the Student Access Center. Disabilities can include physical, learning, executive functions, and mental health. You may register at the Student Access Center (k-state.edu/accesscenter) or to learn more contact. If you are a student enrolled in campus/online courses through the Manhattan, Olathe, or Global campuses, contact the Student Access Center at accesscenter@k-state.edu, 785-532-6441; for K-State Salina campus, contact Academic and Student Services at polytechnicadvising@ksu.edu or call 785-826-2974. Students already registered with the Student Access Center: please request your Letters of Accommodation early in the semester to provide adequate time to arrange your approved academic accommodations. Once SAC approves your Letter of Accommodation it will be e-mailed to you, and your instructor(s) for this course.  Please follow up with your instructor to discuss how best to implement the approved accommodations.

Expectations for Student Conduct: All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article VI, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.

Conceal Carry Statement: In this class, students will be asked on a regular basis to participate in activities (i.e., engaging in group work) that may require students to either be separated from their bags or be prepared to keep their bags with them at all times during such activities. Students are encouraged to take the online weapons policy education module <http://www.k-state.edu/police/weapons/index.html> to ensure they understand the requirements related to concealed carry.

Statement on Mutual Respect and Inclusion in K-State Teaching and Learning Spaces: At K-State, faculty and staff are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. K-State courses, labs, and other virtual and physical learning spaces promote equitable opportunity to learn, participate, contribute, and succeed, regardless of age, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, genetic information, ancestry, disability, socioeconomic status, military or veteran status, immigration status, Indigenous identity, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, culture, as well as other social identities.

Faculty and staff are committed to promoting equity and believe the success of an inclusive learning environment relies on the participation, support, and understanding of all students. Students are encouraged to share their views and lived experiences as they relate to the course or their course experience, while recognizing they are doing so in a learning environment in which all are expected to engage with respect to honor the rights, safety, and dignity of others in keeping with the K-State Principles of Community https://www.k-state.edu/about/values/community/.

If you feel uncomfortable because of comments or behavior encountered in this class, you may bring it to the attention of your instructor, advisors, and/or mentors. If you have questions about how to proceed with a confidential process to resolve concerns, please contact the Student Ombudsperson Office. Violations of the student code of conduct can be reported here https://www.k-state.edu/sga/judicial/student-code-of-conduct.html. If you experience bias or discrimination, it can be reported here https://www.k-state.edu/report/discrimination/.

Wearing of Face Coverings: Kansas State University does not require masks while indoors on university property, including while attending in-person classes. For additional information and the latest on K-State’s face covering policy, see https://www.k-state.edu/covid-19/guidance/health/face-covering.html.

Statement Regarding Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment:
Kansas State University is committed to maintaining academic, housing, and work environments that are free of discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Instructors support the University’s commitment by creating a safe learning environment during this course, free of conduct that would interfere with your academic opportunities. Instructors also have a duty to report any behavior they become aware of that potentially violates the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment (PPM 3010). 

If a student is subjected to discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment, they are encouraged to make a non-confidential report to the University’s Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) using the online reporting form. Incident disclosure is not required to receive resources at K-State. Reports that include domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, should be considered for reporting by the complainant to the Kansas State University Police Department or the Riley County Police Department. Reports made to law enforcement are separate from reports made to OIE. A complainant can choose to report to one or both entities. Confidential support and advocacy can be found with the K-State Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education (CARE). Confidential mental health services can be found with Lafene Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Academic support can be found with the Office of Student Support and Accountability (OSSA). OSSA is a non-confidential resource. A comprehensive list of resources is available at https://www.k-state.edu/oie/resources.html. If you have questions about non-confidential and confidential resources, please contact OIE at equity@ksu.edu or (785) 532–6220.

Statement of Copyright: Copyright 2024 as to this syllabus and all course materials and lectures. During this course students are prohibited from selling notes to or being paid for taking notes by any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course. In addition, students in this class are not authorized to provide class notes or other class-related materials to any other person or entity, other than sharing them directly with another student taking the class for purposes of studying, without prior written permission from the professor teaching this course.

The short paper and final project will count for 35% of your final grade (10% and 25% respectively), and your presentation of the final project will count for 5%. The two response papers will count for 10% of your final grade; the professional development tasks will count for 10% of your final grade; and the multi-media fandom project will count for 10% of your final grade.  Class participation (20%) and a final reflection (10%) complete the requirements.

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

Note: All assigned reading should be completed by the date listed.
[CP] = Online Class Pack in Canvas. [W] = Web.

Fandom and Fan Studies: An Introduction
January 16

Duffett, “Introduction” (1-34); From Keywords for Media Studies (2017): Jenkins, “Fan” (65-67) and  Rentschler, “Affect” (12-14); Booth and Williams, “Introduction” to A Fan Studies Primer: Method, Research, Ethics (2021) (1-5) [CP & shared in advance via email]

Foundational Voices and Historical Perspectives

  23 • Duffett, “Fan Stereotypes and Representations” (35-52) and “Beyond the Text” (53-83)
• Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” (1970) (302-312); Hall, “Encoding/Decoding” (1973) (90-103); Hebdige, “The Function of Subculture” (1979) (441-450) [CP]
Response Paper #1 due (2 pages) on Duffett (choose one of the bolded words as the focus for your response)
  30 • Duffett, “How Do People Become Fans?” (123-163)
• Jenkins, “Fandom, Negotiation, and Participatory Culture” (2018) (13-26); Cavicchi, “Foundational Discourses of Fandom” (2018) (27-46); Edwards, “Literature Fandom and Literary Fans” (2018) (47-64); and Pearson, “Janeites and Sherlockians: Literary Societies, Cultural Legitimacy, and Gender” (2018) (495-508) [CP]
Class Discussion Questions #1: Jenkins, Cavicchi, Edwards, and Pearson

Practicing Fandom / Practicing Fan Studies

February 6 • Duffett, “Fan Practices” (165-190) and “The Fan Community: Online and Offline” (235-254)
• Hellekson, “The Fan Experience” (2018) (65-76); Zubernis and Larsen, “Make Space for Us! Fandom in the Real World” (2018) (145-159); Yahr, "Surprised by the Eras Tour's dominance? You weren’t paying attention" (2023) [CP]; Nel, “Dispatches” from Comic-Con (2013-2017) [W]
Class Discussion Questions #2: Hellekson, Zubernis and Larsen, and Nel
  13 • Duffett, “Fandom, Gender, and Sexual Orientation” (191-207)
• Wanzo, “African American Acafandom, and Other Strangers: New Geneologies of Fan Studies” (2015) [W]; Thomas and Stornaiuolo, “Restorying the Self: Bending Toward Textual Justice” (2016); Pande, from Squee from the Margins: “Preface,” “Introduction,” and “Dial Me Up, Scotty: Fandoms as Platforms for Women’s Online Identity” (2018) (xi-44); Wilson, “Red Pillars, Sad Puppies, and Gamergaters: The State of Male Privilege in Internet Fan Communities” (2018) (431-445) [CP]
Response Paper #2 due (2 pages) on Pande
Class Discussion Questions #3: Wanzo, Pande, Thomas and Stornaiuolo, and Wilson

• Duffett, “Researching Fandom” (255-275)
• From A Fan Studies Primer: Method, Research, Ethics (2021): Vist, Popova, and Largent, “What Does Fan Studies Feel Like?” (19-33); Pande, “Naming Whiteness: Interrogating Fan Studies Methodologies” (34-50); Morimoto, “Transcultural Fan Studies as Methodology” (51-64); and one of the following: Woo, “Asking Fan Questions: The Ethnographic Interview” (97-110); Lanckman, “‘They Took Our Jobs!’: Finding Fan History in Movie Magazines” (163-178); Thomas, “The Dual Imagining: Afrofuturism, Queer Performance, and Black Cosplayers” (193-206); or Nielsen, “The Iconography of Fan Art” (207-222) [CP]
Class Discussion Questions #4: Vist, Popova, Largent, Pande, and Morimoto

  F 23 Paper #1 due (4 pages) by 11:59 p.m. to Canvas. M.L.A. documentation format.


Case Study: The Harry Potter Fandom


Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
Anelli, Harry, A History (2009)

March F 1 Prospectus (1 p.) for Final Project due by 11:59 p.m.

Tosenberger,"'Oh my God, the Fanfiction!' Dumbledore's Outing and the Online Harry Potter Fandom" (2008) [W]; Jacobs, "Harry Potter and the Battle against Bigotry" (2014) [W]; Bennett, "What a Racebent Hermione Granger Really Represents" (2015) [W]; Seymour, “Racebending and Prosumer Fanart Practices in Harry Potter Fandom” (2018) (333-347) [CP]
Class Discussion Questions #5:Tosenberger, Jacobs, Bennett, and Seymour
Pottermore/Wizarding World (2012-present) [W]; Lee, "Pottermore Problems" (2016) [W]; Sepsey, "Dear J. K. Rowling: We’re Still Here" (2016) [W]; Penny, "Harry Potter and the Conscience of a Liberal" (2016) [W]; Bird, “Harry Potter Helped Me Come Out as Trans, But J.K. Rowling Disappointed Me” (2019) [CP]; Kim, “The Changing Politics of Reading Harry Potter in the Post-Trump U.S.” (2020) [W]

  F 12 No Class -- Spring Break
19 [A] The Harry Potter Alliance / Fandom Forward; Wikipedia entry for "Fandom Forward"; HPA website in 2009 and HPA website in 2015 (links courtesy of the Internet Archive); Jenkins, "'Cultural acupuncture': Fan activism and the Harry Potter Alliance" (2012); Hinck, "Theorizing a public engagement keystone: Seeing fandom's integral connection to civic engagement through the case of the Harry Potter Alliance" (2012) [W]; Jenkins, Ito, and Boyd, from Participatory Culture in a Networked Era (2016) (152-170, 180-187); Yasharoff, "'Dumbledore's Army': How 'Harry Potter' Inspired a Generation of Young Activists" [CP]

Case Study: The Hamilton Fandom

26 Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (2015); Lin-Manuel Miranda, annotated libretto for Hamilton, including "Introduction" (10-11), Chapter I (14-15), Chapter III (32-33), Chapter VII (58-59), Chapter XIII (107-109), Chapter XIX (164-7), Chapter XXX (263-265), Chapter XXXI (270-71); performance of Hamilton [W]
Selected readings about Hamilton's representations of history: Schuessler, from the NYT; Kelly, Freeman, Schocket, Carp, and Isenberg, from the Journal of the Early Republic; Delman, from The Atlantic [CP]
  F 29 Progress update for Final Project due by 11:59 p.m. to Canvas
April 2 Selected readings about Hamilton's representations of gender, race, and ethnicity [CP]; Miranda and McCarter: Chapter XXIII (205-8), Chapter XXV (222-3), and "The Slavery Debate" (212); deleted songs [W]; Coppa, “Slash/Drag: Appropriation and Visibility in the Age of Hamilton” (2018) (189-206) [CP]
Class Discussion Questions #6:Readings on gender, race, and ethnicity
9 [A]

Selected readings about Hamilton's impact on education and young audiences [CP]; Miranda and McCarter: Chapter XVIII (156-60)
Selected readings about Hamilton's impact on politics, popular culture, and fandom [CP]; Miranda and McCarter: Chapter XXIX (256-7); Epilogue (384-5)

16 Writing Workshop: Bring draft of Final Project to class


The Future of Fan Studies

23 [A]

• Duffett, “Conclusion: The Frontiers of Fan Research” (277-288)
• Duffett, “Understanding Which Fandom? Insights from Two Decades as a Music Fan Researcher” (2018) (463-476); Hills, “Implicit Fandom in the Fields of Theatre, Art, and Literature: Studying ‘Fans’ Beyond Fan Discourses” (2018) (477-494); Harrington and Bielby, “Aging, Fans, and Fandom” (2018) (406-415); Click, Gray, Mittell, and Scott, “The Future of Fan Studies: A Conversation” (2018) [CP]
• Browse recent issues of Transformative Works and Cultures and Participations [W]

  F 26 Final Project due by 11:59 p.m. to Canvas. M.L.A. documentation format.
  30 Final Project Presentations
May 7 Final Reflection and Professional Development Tasks due by 9:00 p.m.


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Last updated 30 January 2024