Rhetoric of Fandom in Convergence Culture

Homage, inside jokes, and self-referential nods within genre texts, such as the recent resurgence of reboots (e.g., Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica), all require a robust fan memory to work. In many ways, this is nothing new. Classical rhetoric was predicated on rhetors training their memory of commonplaces and shared cultural stories. But in a digital age of convergence culture, how are these centuries-old concepts evolving and changing? In addition, how does the postmodern understanding of knowledge and memory complicate the classical conception of rhetorical memory?

Research Questions

  • What role does the potentially unreliable nature of memory play in the fan experience?
  • How can we apply the classical canons of rhetoric, particularly around memory and invention, to fandom in convergence culture?
  • If narrative canon is defined as a type of knowledge, how do we account for the postmodern conception of knowledge as mediated, constructed, and partial (i.e., contextual) in the fan experience with rebooted texts such as Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica?

Preliminary Objects of Analysis

  • Pinterest boards (e.g., the Geek category) and Tumblr posts.
  • Fan-generated wikis for rebooted series such as The Battlestar Wiki.
  • Fan-fic.
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