Long Overdue Updates! and Future Stuff!

Hey Everyone!

I apologize for the huge delay between this post and the previous one. I have to admit, as much as I believe in the work of keeping open lines of communication with the members of the fandom community, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. Additionally, I’ve been struggling with some long-term health issues that won’t go away overnight. Thus, the wise reader should expect updates very occasionally, though you’re always welcome to send me a personal note at joanmill@usc.edu and I’m usually much better about responding to those.


HERE! is the first draft of the paper as it currently stands. By following THIS (they’re the same) link, you can read and/or download and/or make comments. Please keep it constructive, thanks.

One more time, the link: https://www.academia.edu/s/212b5380ab?source=link

While I welcome constructive criticism and critique, and I do intend to return to this paper at a later date, I don’t expect that date will come very soon. I have some concerns about legitimizing a model of fandom that depends on a binary that places white men in opposition to everyone else. That is certainly an element running throughout our culture, but I’d rather propose alternative models of understanding that don’t homogenize all underrepresented groups into a monolithic, singularly-focused entity. Given the option to re-do this research I would have fought harder against certain criticisms and sought to designate more attention to this issue. Nonetheless, this research indicates that there are significant differences in how certain individuals experience and partake in fandom.

If you like, you can now be done with this blog (or mailing list!) and depart. However, I am now beginning the second year of my doctoral studies at USC Annenberg and I will be undertaking more and greater projects in fandom, media studies, game studies, and cultural studies. In all respects I am dedicated to furthering equality and opportunity for minorities of all kinds. Because I can only spread myself so far, you will find that I tend to focus on women, african-americans and LGBT people because those are identities I claim and empathize with deeply. However, my support for oppressed and underrepresented people is not limited to those groups. If you have a suggestion for research in another vein I’d be glad to hear it. (Again, my email is joanmill@usc.edu).

I tell you this because I will be converting this list and website into a general home for all of my research going forward. If you would like to unsubscribe from the mailing list, click here:

I’ll give one more heads-up before I begin converting the website. Feel free to contact me at any time by my email (joanmill@usc.edu) or twitter @a_wild_acafan.

Finally, if you want to get more directly involved with the work I’m doing, please apply to join “Social Justice Action Team 6,” a facebook group I recently created to network with members of a diversity of fandoms who have a passion for social justice issues. When you apply to join, include a note that you came from the FAUG page/list.

Under the Weather and Thoughts on Gender

[Below artwork by kingmukatan features Toph and Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender]

This is just a quick update to apologize for the lack of communication over the last week. I’ve been a little ill lately and not so quick on the draw. Keep an eye out for real updates later this week.

One minor update:
I did close the survey with a final tally of over 400 respondents! Interesting fact, the survey respondents were 83% (or 332 respondents) female! Without having more comprehensive identification data such as geography or other demographics (which I chose not to collect in order to maintain your privacy) I can only imagine a couple of factors which might contribute to this quirk. First, internet fandom seems, through general observation, to skew a bit female anyway. Not 83%, perhaps, but probably at least 60/40 if not a stronger split. The second reason I think this group skews female is because I’m female, many of my fandom friends are female and many of their fandom friends are female and so on. Thus, there’s likely to be a pretty strong network of females who participated — way to go women!

The other 17% of the group broke out thusly:

  • 7% Male (28)
  • 2% Transgender Male (9)
  • <1% Transgender Female (2)
  • 6% Non-Binary (26)
  • and 5% Other (5)

People of all genders, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think my estimate is off in terms of the gender-split of fandom?  Do you think this 83% female group is typical or anomalous? Any alternative explanations for the split? The number of transgendered individuals in our group is orders of magnitude higher than the estimate for the general population. Do you think this reflects something about fandom in general?

Let’s discuss!

You can comment on this blog post or email me at joanmill@usc.edu!

w0000000t! and Next Steps

You did it! Thanks very much to everyone who participated, liked and shared the survey! We had a whopping TWO HUNDRED AND ELEVEN responses to the survey in the first 24 hours! Special thanks to Henry Jenkins, Julia Price, and Copperbadge for amplifying the signal.

The winner of the donation drive is The Organization for Transformative Works! I’ll be sending in my donation soon and I’ll make sure to post and update you when I do.

In terms of the research, the next steps look like so:

  1. While I will currently download the data I have in order to prepare a version of this study for completion of course requirements, the survey will remain open for a bit longer. I need to submit according to deadlines for this course, but I can always come back and reincorporate the extra data later, when prepping for submissions to conferences and journals, so if you know other people who might be interested in participating, it’s not too late.
  2. With the help of the World’s Best Teaching Assistant, I will clean and organize the data to transform the raw information into the variables I’m attempting to measure. I’ll use some statistical tests to see if correlations showed up where I expected them to or in surprising places that I didn’t expect them. If there are any surprises I may do some “post-hoc” tests to examine hypotheses I hadn’t considered.
  3. Next I’ll write up my results and submit to my faculty advisor, Peter Monge, for feedback.
  4. Later on I’ll write up the analysis and discussion sections of the paper and submit those for feedback as well.

From there, it depends on the results! If they make a substantial contribution, the research could be worthy of publication and I’ll tell you more about that process when we get there. For now, thanks for your participation!


P.S. The initial sections of the paper are already written! They are constantly undergoing revision, but I will post a version of it up to this website soon so that you can have a look at the theories and hypotheses I’m working with.

Some clarification on the term “fanart”

Several people have contacted me pointing out that the term “fanart” can be a little ambiguous. Unfortunately, language to describe fan activities isn’t yet very sophisticated. In lieu of an in depth discussion on fannish terminology I’ve added this clarification to the beginning of the survey. Let me know what you think!


The following questions will ask you about your experiences making or consuming fanart. For the purposes of this research, fanart is described as any creative enterprise undertaken in relation to, about, or surrounding a particular fandom. This can include  fanfiction (poetry, prose, etc), non-fiction fanwriting (meta, academic writing, news), visual art (photography, painting, drawing, digital art, memes), blogging/vlogging, cosplaying (including props building and makeup art), music making (filk, wrock, parodies, etc.), role-playing (including tabletop, LARPing, online, etc.) or any other creative enterprise that you pursue through fandom.

I have avoided the term “fan works” here as this research is not meant to engage with academic topics surrounding “work” and “labor,” complicated concepts in academic discourse. Rather I want to focus on the fact that all fan creations are artwork of some kind or another and should be considered such.

In terms of fandom, I take it to  include media properties but it can also include sports, games, academic topics, celebrities or concepts. Anything from robot fandom to Marvel fandom to dog fandom counts.

Please comment or contact me if you’d like more clarification!


Super Sample Size Me!

Hi and welcome! By now hopefully you know that I, Joan Miller, principal investigator on this study, am trying to gather survey responses in order to better understand why and how people make and consume fanart. Unfortunately, the preparation for this study took quite a while and I have some swift deadlines coming up. In order to make a big push toward getting a great sample size as swiftly as possible, I’m making this promise:

If 150 people or more participate in the survey by 11:59pm PST on Monday April 4th, I will make a 150$ donation to one of the three possible fandom focused organizations! 

Each of the three following groups works to use the power of fandom to affect positive change in the world. If you are not familiar with them I highly recommend checking out the links below:


The Organization for Transformative Works
The OTW “is a nonprofit organization run by and for fans to provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan cultures.” They host the website Archive of Our Own (aka AO3) one of the largest repositories of fanfiction on the web. They also publish the website Fanlore and the academic, peer-reviewed, open-source journal, Transformative Works and Cultures.

The Harry Potter Alliance
The Harry Potter Alliance “turns fans into heroes.” Their past successes include a 400,000 person campaign to convince Warner Brothers to use exclusively UTZ or Fairtrade chocolate, a 143,000$ fundraising campaign for Partners in Health, which provided relief natural disaster victims in Haiti, and an ongoing campaign called “Accio Books” which has donated over 250,000 books to public libraries all over the world. The group philosophy focuses on empowering fans to become leaders and bringing communities together in the interest of benefiting underserved populations and affecting broad social change.


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund 
In their own words:
“The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance and education to cases affecting the First Amendment right to read, create, publish, sell, and distribute comics and graphic novels. We help individuals and businesses who are being criminally prosecuted because of the comic books they read, make, buy, or sell. We help creators who are being attacked in cases where their work is clearly protected as parody or fair use. We help libraries gather resources to defend graphic novel challenges. We are the first line of defense when authorities intimidate individuals or businesses about the comics they read, make, buy or sell. Often a letter or phone call from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s lawyers will end a case before it starts.”


You can help by participating! Just click on this link and give a few minutes of your time!


By taking the survey you can vote on which of these three awesome organizations I will make a donation to and I hope you’ll consider making a donation too! If you’d like to investigate the charities more click on the links above and if you’d like to donate, check them out here:

OTW: https://otw.cividesk.com/civicrm/index.php?q=civicrm/contribute/transact&reset=1&id=17

HPA: https://hpalliance.nationbuilder.com/donate

CBLDF: http://cbldf.org/contribute/donate/


Survey Open!

Hopefully if you’ve found this site it’s because you’ve already participated in the survey on fanart uses and gratifications. If so, thank you! I hope this site answers all your questions about the project and if not, I hope you’ll contact me, Joan Miller, (joanmill@usc.edu) with any additional questions you have. You can also contact my faculty advisor, Peter Monge at monge@usc.edu.

If you came across this site some other way, welcome!

My name is Joan Miller, I am a doctoral student at USC Annenberg in the field of communications. My faculty advisor is Dr. Peter Monge. My research focuses on fandom and critical cultural studies and I am currently conducting a study on the uses and gratifications of fanart production and consumption. If you enjoy making or consuming fanart, including fanfiction, blogging/vlogging, modding, fanart drawing, photography, painting, collaging, cosplaying, music making, role-playing or any other type of fanart, please consider participating in this short survey. I am exclusively interested in participants over the age of eighteen and those who participate in fanart activites on a regular basis.

If this describes you, please click on the link below to participate in the survey.


If this doesn’t describe you, but it describes someone you know, please consider passing the link along to them.

The survey is designed to be compatible with mobile use.

For more information on the study itself or to obtain a copy of the informed consent form, please contact me, at joanmill@usc.edu or my faculty advisor, Peter Monge at monge@usc.edu.


To stay up to date with the research, it’s findings and results, bookmark this website and signup for our mailing list.