Comm 146 (Fall 2020)Critical Study of K-Pop FandomFinal Assignment PromptAll components due by 5pm on Friday, Dec 18 [Finals Week]
Overview During the second half of the quarter, we have focused our attention on cultural themes, social practices, and political tensions in K-Pop fandom, paying particular attention to the many complex formations of identity that have emerged in various global contexts. We can see this shift in emphasis not only in the subjects addressed in our lectures and readings, but in the “human-centered” approach to research reflected in the scholarship we have read. Fan studies remains a relatively new field of study, but it has established a strong preference for understanding how people make meaning through their everyday interactions with media texts.
For this project, you will follow along these lines of inquiry and explore one aspect of K-Pop fandom and how it has been articulated and shaped among a specific demographic of fans. You may choose to pursue a topic covered in our course materials, or you may pursue an outside topic with the approval of the instructor. Whatever path you take, your analysis should be research-oriented, focused on a specific issue, practice, or concept, and aim to understand its human dimensions. While the parameters for what you choose to analyze remain fairly flexible, your options for how you analyze your topic (i.e., your research method) remain fairly limited and are outlined in the next section.
Choosing a TopicIn an effort to help shake loose some ideas for you, I have provided a summary of topics covered between Weeks 5 and 10 below. In addition, I have jotted down a handful of important concepts that we did not have an opportunity to address this quarter. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that you are welcome to propose a topic not included here.
Themes/issues:cultures of racism and misogyny within fandoms toxic fandoms, anti-fandomfandom as individual vs. collective identityfandom as consumerism vs. cultural resistancefandom as gendered pathologyracialization of fandom as white and male
Practices/objects: fan artfan chantsdance coversmemorabilia collection
Concepts:sasaeng (“stalker fans”)anti-fanintimacies, connectivity“fan speak”“Twitter Stan”
Themes, practices, concepts not covered in class:shipping, fan fiction, and other queer articulations of fandomcrack videos, remixing, and other vidding practices Multi-fandom
Choosing a Research Method I have provided several options for how you may pursue your analysis, in part, to accommodate for the variety of circumstances imposed on us by the pandemic. You should choose your method in accordance with your mental and physical capacities, but also based on the kinds of questions you wish to pursue with this project.
Option 1: Write a traditional research paper (4-5 pages, double-spaced) on a theme, concept, or debate pertaining to K-Pop fandom and conduct a sustained analysis of its impact within a specific community of fans. If you pursue this option, you are welcome to engage in any form of research method we have encountered in our readings this quarter. For instance, you may conduct a cultural analysis of a particular type of fan-made artifact and why it has emerged within a certain geo-cultural context or shared fan identity. Or, you might unpack the various discursive threads, tensions, and communication platforms that have shaped a growing debate about cultural appropriation within K-Pop over the past ten years. Or you could look at a specific type of fan activism and examine why it has emerged in a political historical and cultural moment. You could also analyze a particular conflict that has emerged within a specific fandom, like one of the many divisive lines that has appeared within BTS’s fanbase. Alternatively, you could look at a particular practice used by BTS ARMY (e.g., “streaming”) to forge a collective identity among fans.
Expected Deliverables and Research Requirements for Option 1: 4-5 page (double-spaced) analysis of a case study At least 2-3 outside scholarly sources to support your analysisAt least 2-3 popular sources to support your analysisWorks cited page
Option 2A: Conduct an ethnographic study of how a particular concept, practice, or debate has shaped the cultural identities of K-Pop fans. For this option, you will need to conduct and record 4-5 substantive audio interviews (45 minutes – 1 hour each) with a curated group of K-Pop fans. The strength of your interviews will shape the depth and richness of your analysis and depend largely on the quality of the questions you ask. This brief overview of how to “ask the right questions” in an ethnographic interview will help get you started, but it is strongly suggested that you also consult with the instructor about the list of questions you plan to ask your subjects. Once you have conducted your interviews, you will identify the overlaps, deviations, and discursive patterns in how your subjects respond to your questions and synthesize them into a 4-5 page analysis supported by scholarly sources. You might find this brief overview of ethnography as a research method helpful in grounding your study, but remember that we have read a number of examples of fan ethnographies this quarter that can serve as a model. This option, by far, requires the most amount of work so please assess your capacities before choosing this option.
Expected Deliverables and Research Requirements for Option 2A:4-5 recorded audio interviews (45 mins – 1 hour each) – each recording should be submitted with paper4-5 page (double-spaced) analysis of interviewsAt least 2 outside scholarly sources to support your analysisWorks cited page
Option 2B: Since some of you will likely wish to conduct a fan study but may be facing undue burdens on your time and physical and mental capacities, I have added this abbreviated alternative to Option 2A described above. For this option, you will still examine how a particular concept, practice, or debate has shaped the cultural identities of K-Pop fans. However, rather than conduct 4-5 individual ethnographic interviews and then synthesizing their contents in a 4-5 page analysis, you will host and record a 30-60 min “panel discussion” with 3-5 participants over Zoom. You will still need to prepare questions that draw out significant details and reflections from your subjects, but rather than asking them in separate interviews, you will present them to your participants simultaneously and in a more interactive way. The benefit of this option is that you can immediately draw connections between your participants’ responses and bring them into conversation with each other. However, you will need to make sure that you facilitate the discussion well by making sure each subject is equally represented in the conversation (i.e., no one person should dominate the discussion) and that you cover enough ground within the limited time frame you have. It is okay if your conversation goes longer so long as it produces meaningful content. You must additionally submit a 3-4 page (double-spaced) analysis of your interview supported by outside research.
Expected Deliverables and Research Requirements for Option 2B:Recorded panel discussion conducted with 3-5 participants over Zoom (min. 30 mins in length) – recording must be submitted with paper3-4 page (double-spaced) analysis of interview At least 2 outside scholarly sources to support your analysisWorks Cited pageOption 3: For this option, you may use any audiovisual medium (video, audio, images, web design, etc.) to present a critical take on a particular K-Pop fan practice or object. If you choose to create a video or audio piece, it should not be more than 4-5 minutes in length. Ideally, you would use the very materials typically used to engage in the fan practice/object you have elected to study to present some sort of a self-reflexive critique. For example, if you wish to look at K-Pop fan vids, you would create a vid of your own that brings some aspect of vidding as a practice to the fore. If this proves to be too conceptually challenging of a task for the particular fan practice or object you wish to explore, you may use an autoethnographic approach instead. By this, I mean that you may produce a fan text of your own using the practice you wish to study and then use your experience of creating the piece as your object of analysis. For instance, if you wish to look at K-Pop dance covers, you could create your own cover (hopefully with some sort of an original or unique twist to it) and then write an analysis of what it tells you about K-Pop fandom’s relationship to identity, community, or whatever cultural aspect you find to be most meaningful and compelling.
Whatever route you end up taking with the creative portion of this assignment, you must submit a 3-4 page (double-spaced) critical paper that explains the thought process behind the piece you created and what you learned about your selected fan practice or object through its creation. Your paper should also include at least 2-3 outside scholarly sources to support your analysis.
Expected Deliverables and Research Requirements for Option 3:Creative fan text (no more than 4-5 minutes in length if using an audiovisual medium) 3-4 page (double-spaced) critical analysis of your creative process and selected fan object or practice At least 2 outside scholarly sources to support your analysisWorks Cited page

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