Whose History? Whose Context? The Dangers of Nostalgia

Two excellent blog posts have crossed my newsfeed over the past day that bring me back to a line of thinking I wrestled with in Writing and the Digital Generation: the prevalence and dangers of nostalgia. In my chapter for Digital Generation, I tackled the laments that digital texts were in danger of replacing (to the detriment) traditional print books.

Now the question has come up in another area of my research interests: fandom.

For some background, here are links to the two posts that have generated my thinky-thoughts for today:

Smuggler’s Ponderings: History, Fandom and Masters of Science Fiction” by Ana on the Book Smugglers blog.

The Orthodox Church of Heinlein” by John Scalzi.

When I first entered SF/F fandom by attending the 2001 WorldCon on a total whim, I was enthralled by the stories I heard about the first cons, and how the “big names” I’d only read about were active participants, and even defining influences. And, to a certain extent, I still am. But as I become more engaged, I heard other stories, from those who were less vocal, less “powerful,” and I was less enthralled, and more disturbed.

The scholar and rhetorician in me then kicks in and I consider the liminal nature of fandom, and the complex history and memory involved in these communities. Such considerations led to my new project, the collection on memory in popular culture. While I want to capture the fannish sense of history and memory, I also know I need to do so in as complex a way as possible. My discussions with other fans such as Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) and posts written by Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) and so many others have reminded me to ask, “Whose history and whose context?”  Those questions have now become the driving force in how I will approach editing this new collection.

And I wouldn’t have known to ask them without the fandom community. Once again, I am grateful.


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