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Working paper

Emotional Landscapes of Reading

This paper 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 presents a general characterization of fan fiction as a type of contemporary reading and writing, drawing upon the influential works by H. Jenkins, A. Dericho, K. Tosenberger, and others. Taking as an example the Russian Harry Potter fan fiction community, the paper poses a set of questions about meanings and contexts of immersive reading and affective reading, highly present among the reading strategies of this fan fiction community. The emotional reading of fan fiction communities is put into historical and theoretical context, with references to the works by researchers who analyzed and criticized the dichotomy of rational and affective reading, or «enchantment», in literary culture as one of the symptoms of modernity (M. Millner, M. Saler, R. Felski). The metaphor of «emotional landscapes of reading» is used in the paper for theorization of 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, such specific elements are described as «selective reading», «kink reading», «first encounter with fan fiction texts» and «unpredictability»