Alena Karkanias also received good news last week regarding her AHSS research proposal. So I’ve cut-and-pasted this several times, but again: the University of Puget Sound offers students competitive Summer Research Awards. These awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. Several students in the department were successful this year, and I’ve asked each to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and stipend monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Alena has to say about the scope of her project:
In this research project, I will be investigating how the introduction of online and in-person sites of interaction have affected the relationship between fans and creators of media content, particularly regarding their beliefs about who among them has the authority to influence the future development of media texts. I am specifically focusing on the fan-creator relationship for the television show, Supernatural. I will be speaking to both creators and fans in order to understand the make-up of each party, their impressions of each other, their opinions regarding the idea of fan influence on the production of the show (specifically regarding the direction of the narrative and fate of the characters), and how they negotiate the changing relationship between fans and creators in light of these factors.
Supernatural’s fans and creators are unique for their overt, reciprocal affection for each other, having embraced the ability to interact with each other on sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and at conventions. However, they have also seen intense conflict mostly arising out of confusion on either side about the make-up, desires, and intentions of the other party, which leave both sides unsure about how to interpret past and present interactions and approach future interactions. My goals in this project are therefore to explicate the points of dissonance between the parties involved and develop strategies to better negotiate their interactions and foster a more harmonious approach to the future production of the show.
Alena, we wish you luck as you explore this interesting social arena. Be careful, however: Supernatural fans have evidently irked P. Diddy, and you need to tread carefully when P. Diddy is angered!