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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: The Archive of Our Own and the Stakes of Publishing Fanfiction
Author(s): Boyd, Sarah
Supervisor(s): Rowberry, Simon
Squires, Claire
Keywords: publishing
publishing industry
fan fiction
digital publishing
online publishing
transformative works
digital ethnography
publishing studies
fan studies
economic capital
social capital
cultural capital
online communities
symbolic capital
literary awards
structural racism
safe spaces
fair use
culture wars
Issue Date: Dec-2020
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The Archive of Our Own (AO3) is the dominant platform for publishing fanfiction in the Western world. Launched in 2009, as of 2020 it has a registered userbase of just over three million and hosts almost seven million works. Built by and for fans, AO3 is non-profit and non-commercial, with a core of ideological values that add to its excellent reputation among fans. It has been successful in building its brand, attracting devoted users and winning recognition outwith fandom, most notably in 2019 when it won the Hugo Award for ‘Best Related Work.’ Utilising an observation-based, digital ethnographic approach combined with a Bourdieusian framework, this thesis aims to establish how AO3 has succeeded in and surpassed its initial goal to become a community-controlled haven for fans and their works, developing into a celebrated, influential repository for fanfic. It examines the impact AO3 has had on the stakes of publishing fanfic, placing the site and its users at the centre of debates over issues such as free digital labour, the blurring of boundaries between audiences and media creators, and the politics of free speech online. The thesis argues that while AO3 is popularly seen as an indisputable good for the fanfiction community, its particular set of values has shaped the priorities of that community in ways that are not always beneficial, often as a result of a refusal or inability to adapt to changing needs amongst its users. The thesis gives insight into the culture and community surrounding AO3 and seeks to establish what sets it apart from other fanfiction platforms. In doing so, it demonstrates that the act of publishing fanfiction is not simply a pleasant pastime shared by a community of friends but also represents a struggle for economic, cultural and social capital.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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