My Glorious Obsession: Nostalgia, Community and Collecting Film and Television Merchandise.

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Description of Activity

This talk examines cultures of consumption and the fans who collect cult film and TV merchandise. I focus on textual representations of cult collecting in film and TV and examine geographical sites of collecting cult media such as the convention or collector's fair (eg. the San Diego ComicCon, the chain store Forbidden Planet). I argue that there has been a change in the fan convention space, whereby it has become less text centred and more commodity centred. Memorialisation is still part of this space (sharing stories of the fans’ favourite film or TV show and meeting their favourite actors) but equally collectible merchandise, rather than just the fictional text, becomes an object for trade, nostalgia, and personal narrative. New technologies also add to this changing identity of cult fandom where international websites such as eBay, and homemade webpages, become cybersites of trade and profit for cult fans. This presentation is part of a larger book project which aims to highlight the changing relationship between cult fans and cult merchandise. Cultural texts such as the Star Wars franchise or stereotypes of cult fans are recognisable to the general public and specialist audiences, what this project seeks to address is how important physical sites of collecting and trading have become in the commodification of cult texts and the continued popularity of these texts within popular culture. Studying the physical layout of the convention site and the products that are bought and sold there signals a shift in the ways fans now relate to their chosen texts (film or TV). No longer are conventions about the simple swapping of stories and sharing of memories. Physical artefacts, the consumer items made and licensed by Hollywood studios and fans alike (toys, models, DVDs), are semiotic markers of the fans' investment in their favourite texts and hold equal significance as the films and TV shows themselves. They are emblematic of the nostalgia that now underpins cult fandom and the fan memories that are valued alongside the cult text.
Period23 Apr 2008
Held atUniversity of East Anglia, United Kingdom


  • Fandom
  • Collecting
  • Merchandise