Linguistic and generic hybridity in web writing: the case of fan fiction

Sirpa Leppänen

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

WS126: New approaches to written codeswitching and multilingual texts

Fan fiction involves the writing, reading and discussion of novels, stories, poems and songs by fans of cult TV series, films and fiction, on web sites founded and monitored by fans themselves. It is based on, simulates and intervenes in for example characters, plot and themes of a cult ’text’ originally produced by someone else with a legal right to them. Fan fiction is typically translocal in nature: it is typically based on globally disseminated cult texts, published on both national and international web sites, and its writers make use of, besides their first language, other languages. In the globalising world, fan fiction could, in fact, be taken as one example of discourse in which the global and the local meet in particular ways, and in which influential and widely distributed cultural products are taken up and appropriated by varied local audiences.

In my presentation, I will focus on fan fiction written by one particular non-Anglo-American group of fans, Finnish adolescents and young adults, and investigate how they take up Anglo-American cultural products and make them locally meaningful. More specifically, within a cross-disciplinary framework combining insights from discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and cyberculture studies, and on the basis of a corpus of some 300 fan fiction texts, a questionnaire (n = 107) and interviews of fans, I will investigate fan fiction as an example of hybrid written discourse and literacy which not only draws on, but also reshapes and mixes resources provided by both Finnish and English – as well as resources provided by different genres of fiction in various ways.

In my analysis I will thus demonstrate how different code switching and language mixing strategies are interwoven with the mixing and modifying of various generic conventions in fan fiction. I will demonstrate how both of these strategies seem to be motivated by the fans’ goal to create fictional discourse that is deemed both interesting and appropriate within the normative framework of fan cultures and virtual fan fiction communities of practice. Finally, I will discuss the ways in which the uses, mixes and modifications of resources originating from, or associated with, different languages and genres are one expression of the fundamentally transnational and transcultural ethos of fandoms and fan fiction which is characterised by shared discursive practices, interests and lifestyles and which may have very little to do with a sense of belonging to a particular language or national community.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
New approaches to written codeswitching and multilingual texts
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 01