Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Mark Golub

Reader 2

Thomas Kim

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2016 Grace M Jasper

Abstract

In this thesis, I examine definitions of fan activism in context of the assumption that Millennials are not politically active and that all online political engagement is superficial. I argue that the perception of political apathy is partially due to the fact that some of the most enthusiastic and intensive political work done by this generation is simply not picked up by conventional means. Some of this ‘hidden’ work is being accomplished by way of radical fanworks. Specifically, I examine Harry Potter fanworks and the ways in which they place marginalized identities at center stage, as well as the misogyny and homophobia that underlie the stigmatization and belittlement of fanworks. While many validate fan activism only when it engages with traditional political problems via traditional political means, I advocate for the validation of the cultural politics work done by fandom—of the purposefully transgressive narratives individuals create in defiance of typical cultural stories. To dismiss fandom is to dismiss a critical element of youth culture, and to dismiss the cultural politics of fandom in favor of traditional civic and political engagement by fandoms is to ignore the more radical positions being explored online.

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