The Author Is Legion: Transformative Work and Fan Fiction as a Literary Meta-Genre (thesis)
Claybrook, Andrew G.
Washington and Lee University -- Honors in English
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Thesis; [FULL-TEXT WILL BE AVAILABLE FOLLOWING A 1-YEAR EMBARGO]Andrew G. Claybrook is a member of the Class of 2022 of Washington and Lee University.Transformative work must be understood first and foremost as a style and meta-genre defined by its relationships. The relationship between texts, with changes and variations from one incarnation to the next. The relationship between creators, where the community ties actively inform the writing and transformative process. If we accept Henry Jenkins' "Textual Poachers" as 'discipline defining,' as Hellekson and Busse state, then the academic gaze upon transformative work is still relatively new in its current incarnation (Hellekson and Busse 10). This is not due to transformative literature being a new trend -- the history of transformative literature is long and storied. Springing from the late nineteenth century and the coalescence of modern fandoms with Sherlock Holmes, and bolstered by technological advances, people have been finding ways to tell and transform stories for centuries. They told these stories to one another, organizing in by mail and over zines, and then in cyberspace with the advent of the internet. The internet remains the current frontier for fan fiction, where every person is capable of being an author, unburdened by the need for any story they write to be marketable, palatable to a publisher's audience. In this way, the fans have created the fandom Marxism that liberates them and connects them. . . . The persistence of a story means that it was important in some way: it may have taught an important lesson, or it may have been beloved by those who heard it. That the Iliad has persevered over the centuries to still hold the attention of readers attests to its capacity to speak to the present, whenever that present may be. The story is inherently transformative and suited to adaptation, perpetually relevant to any audience and primed to be taken farther. Works like The Song of Achilles indicate that transformative literature is gaining ground, growing in commercial viability and reflecting society's appetite for stories retold. Perhaps this appetite had never abated, just briefly moved out of the spotlight in favor of a ravenous demand for "originality," as defined by whatever capricious audience. From there, works like The Good Soul and like a bird scared at an empty bush, trembling for nothing show the radical creativity of an author set free, but notably the stories still retain sparks of the original works -- the themes and concepts that allow the stories to endure. [From Conclusion]