'‘Because You Demanded It!': Participatory Culture and Superhero Comic Books

Taina Lloyd (2009). '‘Because You Demanded It!': Participatory Culture and Superhero Comic Books MPhil Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Taina Lloyd
Thesis Title '‘Because You Demanded It!': Participatory Culture and Superhero Comic Books
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-06
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dr Fiona Nicoll
Dr Maureen Burns
Total pages 127
Total colour pages 10
Total black and white pages 117
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Abstract/Summary Comic books are one of the many popular cultural forms that attract, as part of their audience, a committed readership that engages in a participatory relationship as part of a shared interest in the text. In common with other media forms, this engagement expresses itself in a variety of ways, including interaction with other readers online and face-to-face at conventions, correspondence with producers, and the creation of textual products. Other features of the discourses and practices of this community may be more specific to the comic book readership. One of the most interesting of these is a participatory belief, widely expressed by readers, that they can influence the story content of the published comic book and that comic books are unique among other media forms in this. In this thesis, I investigate several aspects of this belief, in order to offer a more nuanced understanding of the participatory involvement that readers have in comic books, particularly the superhero comic books that dominate American comic book culture. First, I examine whether this participatory belief is supported by evidence from published comic books by undertaking a content analysis of the letter columns and story pages of comic books. Next, I explore the discourses of online comic book culture that relate to authorship and the boundaries of participation and show how the rules of textual engagement that are held by readers shape the interactions between readers and producers. Finally, I look for alternative participatory spaces that are available to comic book readers, finding these in a contested form of engagement with comic books, that of exploring the fictional universes of the text. This approach imagines the text as the representation of a non-actual world, to which the comic book is an incomplete window. Theorising this mode of engagement leads to a conceptualisation of participation that makes visible a participatory space that has been previously overlooked by academic fan studies, and that complicates the existing models of participatory culture.
Keyword fan culture
cultural studies
comic books
fictional worlds
Additional Notes 8-9, 46, 78-79, 85-86, 89, 95-96

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Created: Sun, 14 Mar 2010, 17:49:31 EST by Ms Taina Lloyd on behalf of Library - Information Access Service