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Fanfiction: Generic Genesis and Evolution

About the project

Status: archive

Project team: Mark Algee-Hewitt, Steele Douris;

Collaborators: David McClure;

Start date: Jan 1, 2017

End date: Jun 15, 2020

Last updated: Jan 15, 2023

Since 1998, well over 6 million stories have been uploaded to, the largest fanfiction archive on the internet. This archive offers a unique source of data on prose writing as styles and genres that developed over centuries in published words take place here within decades, years or even week. The goal of this project is to study the development and progression of genre as we mine two decades of fanfiction in order to track both authorial and readerly influence, the development of generic innovation, and the genesis and evolution of specific archetypes and stylistic conventions. The multilingual sub-project of the fan fiction project engages with fan fiction as a global phenomenon. While fanfic may be responding to the same “prompt” of a shared international franchise, the experience of engaging with fanfic can vary depending on which archive a reader uses. Different archives have different subcultures, norms, and technical affordances that influence the ways in which a reader can find and respond to texts — in addition to the ways that these communities are shaped by linguistic and cultural norms. This sub-project compares three facets of metadata across an English, Italian, and Russian fanfic archive: the conceptualization of “genre”, the material that necessitates a “warning”, and how characters are romantically paired (frequency of pairings, conveyance of agency in the relationship, and “slash-fic” or same-sex pairings), exploring the ways that these responses to Harry Potter are informed by language and culture.