You may be asking what is fanfiction?
Fanfiction is fiction pieces written by the fans of a work from books, movies or video games.
A teacher can use fanfiction to build their students’ writing skills, college professor and author Christopher Shamburg writes in this guest blog post. Shamburg offers examples why teachers should allow students to write about their interests outside of the material they cover in class. “It validates where they are developmentally, but it demands that they take different perspectives on familiar situations and stories,” Shamburg writes.
Starting around 2001, friends began to tell me about their children’s fascination with fanfiction—writing, reading, and critiquing it. By the time the fourth person told me how much fanfiction had helped her daughter grow as a confident writer I had already started exploring its role in student writing.
Over the last eight years I have used fanfiction in my work as a teacher educator. It is a formal part of a graduate course on “Technology in the English Language Arts” that I teach, and it has worked its way into other work I do as well.
In that graduate class, I share my research and encourage teachers to consider using fanfiction in their own teaching. Though the specifics of the project changes, there are a few general stages that we work through.
My first tact is to legitimize the practice of creative appropriation by having the class explore it in literary history—from Shakespeare, who hardly has an original plot, to Chaucer’s use of Homer, to Milton’s ‘missing scenes’ from the Bible, to more contemporary works such as John Gardner’sGrendel and the Geraldine Brooks’ March, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006.
Teachers begin to see that fan appropriation can be a lens to view canonical literature. This legitimizes the act of appropriation and complicates the concept of originality.
There is little dissent among teachers at this point—agreed, great authors have borrowed and built on other great authors. We then look at popular fanfiction genres, and I use these short descriptions…
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