Emotional landscapes of reading: fan fiction in the context of contemporary reading practices
This article focuses on fan fiction as a literary experience and especially on fan fiction readers’ receptive strategies. Methodologically, its approach is at the intersection of literary theory, theory of popular culture, and qualitative research into practices of communication within online communities. It characterizes fan fiction as a type of contemporary reading and writing. Taking as an example the Russian Harry Potter fan fiction community, the article poses a set of questions about the meanings and contexts of immersive reading and affective reading. The emotional reading of fan fiction communities is put into historical and theoretical context, with reference to researchers who analysed and criticized the dichotomy of rational and affective reading, or ‘enchantment’, in literary culture as one of the symptoms of modernity. The metaphor of ‘emotional landscapes of reading’ is used to theorize the reading strategies of fan fiction readers, and discussed through parallels with phenomenological theories of landscape. Among the ‘assemblage points of reading’ of fan fiction, specific elements are described, such as ‘selective reading’, ‘kink reading’, ‘first encounter with fan fiction texts’ and ‘unpredictability’.