Anchoring and innovating, developing imaginative new insights in familiar fictional contexts, are key practices in storytelling. All stories build on the stories that came before them, but perhaps none more unabashedly than fanfiction. By writing and reading fanfiction, fans of all kinds of narratives, from contemporary reality TV to Classical mythology, expand and adapt their favorite stories. This project examines how fanfiction anchors and innovates story elements from Antiquity.
The project analyzes fanfiction as a type of reception, to see how Antique motifs are reused and given new meanings in fanfiction contexts. The project examines this reception on three levels: the representations of Antique motifs in fanfiction itself, the reception of this fanfiction in online reviews from the fan community, and the relationship between fanfiction and published literature that represents Antiquity.
The project combines methods from literary studies and reception studies, such as analysis of narrative, representation, style, and rhetoric, with computational methods from digital humanities, such as analysis of word frequencies and collocations. I focus specifically on three Classical motifs that lots of fanfiction is about: Gods, heroes, and myths.
The aim of this project is to understand how Classical Antiquity is represented and explored in new ways by the growing community of people writing fanfiction online. This community is engaged in practices of anchoring and innovation in two ways: on the one hand, motifs from Antiquity are recontextualized in fan texts, so that popular media may serve as an anchor for which the introduction of Classical myth is an innovation. On the other hand, the fanfiction community uses the stories they know best to shed a new light on Gods, heroes, and myths from Antiquity. Here, these motifs are anchors that help innovate audiences’ understanding of their cultural landscape.