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The Design of Printed Fanfiction: Down to Agincourt and Fanbinding as Affective Practice

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In this paper, we examine the design process of fanbinding, through which physical, printed copies of fan fiction works are created. These are often bespoke, samizdat, singular objects that cannot usually be mass-produced, and include unique hand-bound objects for the designer’s own affective, aesthetic pleasure. Fanbinding suggests durability and preservation, and printed objects can be transformative works in themselves: designed, typeset, and perhaps featuring artwork, maps or other specifically created front/back matter and illustrations. Readers of these born-digital works may produce these in reaction to the fact that texts are published purely in digital, intangible forms, finding themselves craving the tangible, haptic properties of books. There are many design decisions involved in curating fanworks in a beautiful physical form, and we are interested in how fans go about making those choices.
For our case study, we chose the work-in-progress Down to Agincourt, currently four novels long on AO3, which takes as its critical starting point a single episode of the long-running television series Supernatural (2005-2020). Down to Agincourt occupies an unusual context by being highly literary in structure; its deliberate layers of complexity are designed to invite rereading and discussion. Its fans may be trying to possess an innately ephemeral thing: to encompass and annotate the text, to seek a more intimate relationship with it, or perhaps to memorialize the intimacy of the relationship they already have, a book being a beloved signifier of something less stable, more slippery. We report on a survey and interviews of Down to Agincourt fans investigating fanbinding conventions and preferences, in order to learn how fans discursively practice this highly affective art form.

Event (Conference)

TitleFanLIS 2022
Degree of recognitionInternational event