October 22, 2007
Around the Consortium: Gender and Fan Studies, Consumption Studies, and Dumbledore

After a couple of updates to get us started this morning, I wanted to followup with a look around the Consortium at the work some of our consulting researchers have been doing. Today, I wanted to point the way toward the latest round of gender and fan studies discussion on Henry Jenkins' blog, the latest consumption studies pieces from Rob Kozinets, and Jason Mittell's writing about his response to Dumbledore's being shoved out of the closet by J.K. Rowling.

The 20th round of the Gender and Fan Studies conversation on Henry's blog features two 2006 graduates of the Program in Comparative Media Studies here at MIT, James Nadeu and Alicia "Kestrell" Verlager. Kestrell, an institution around MIT, writes about being a lifelong fan but a newcomer to fan studies, while James writes about his own focus on queer cinema and visual art, including comic books. Their conversation is available here and here.

Meanwhile, Rob Kozinets has continued his ongoing detailed discussion of the consumption studies concept with three new pieces in the past few days. In part nine, Rob looks at the consumption of "high-tech." He writes, "For my generation at least, high technology as a consumption concept has been largely naturalized. But because its specifics change so rapidly, it retains the sheen of the ever-new. Screensize and clarity and thickness, beta versions, RAM and hard drive size, acronym knowledge, skill at web-page design, distance learning development and digital presentation, all become daily and almost phallic modalities of my own tale-spinning (or tail-chasing?) worlds of competition and self-elevation." This is followed by Futuristic Frontiers and Green Criticism.

Finally, Jason Mittell provides an interesting piece on J.K. Rowling's announcement that Dumbledore is gay. He writes:

I'm less interested in how this impacts our understanding of the world of Harry Potter, the relationships between Albus & other characters, or even the cultural controversies surrounding the series that this announcement has already inflamed. What interests me more is what does it mean for an author to proclaim such information about a character in an already completed fictional world? Presuming that the books are ambiguous at best about the issue of Dumbledore's sexuality - my interpretation had been that Hogwarts faculty were like monks, forsaking romance and concerns of the flesh for the magical arts - how do we make sense of this authorial pronouncement?

He questions what these extratextual comments mean, not just in how authorial comments relate to a series, but especially what it means when these comments are made after the series has finished.

He writes, "had she made this announcement between books 5 & 6, she would have helped forge our reading experiences, guiding us to be alert to the cues within Dumbledore's past with Grindelwald and other moments, and framing textual moments as more explicit than they actually may be. So does she retain her power to control her fictional world after the books have been closed?"

Be sure to check out the full piece at Just TV.