Introduction: fans and paratexts

Lincoln Geraghty*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The first step towards a wider consideration of popular media cultures surrounding music, comics, film, television and the Internet, and the relationship between fans and their object of fandom, is to acknowledge the prominent position of what Jonathan Gray (2010) calls media “paratexts” as opposed to the centrality of specific films or television series as the “text”. Indeed, we are now accustomed in fan studies to stating that the productivity of fans and their related fan practices represents an appropriate and worthy text to study just as much as the media text to which they are related or inspired by. So, rather than studying Star Trek as cult text, we might study fan-produced videos on YouTube as important texts of fan activity that carry inherent meaning and significance in and of themselves. Or, for example, Star Wars carries with it meaning within and outside the narrative — from an analysis of its mythic story structure using the work of Joseph Campbell, to studies of its fans who actively engage in their own meaning-making by dressing up, making videos and writing fan fiction. However, the peripheral texts — those associated with the commercialisation of the franchise, such as the lunchboxes, toys, video games and websites — are so much a part of the meaning-making process that they become texts to study in their own right.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopular Media Cultures
Subtitle of host publicationFans, Audiences and Paratexts
EditorsLincoln Geraghty
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781137350374
ISBN (Print)9781349468348
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2015


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