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Cheeseheads, Swifties, Beatlemaniacs, Trekkies, Whovians, Potterheads, Beyhive, the Cenation, ARMY. People are fans of all sorts of things. But what makes someone a fan? Is there a difference between enjoying something and being a fan of that thing?

Affirmation/Transformation considers “creation” as the line between casual enjoyment and fandom. Fans are not passive; fans create. Using pieces from the Haggerty Museum of Art’s permanent collection, Affirmation/Transformation looks at the types of things that fans are inspired to create and asks the viewer whether these fan creations are affirmational or transformational—that is, do they affirm the fan object as it is, or transform it into something new? Do fan creations uphold the canon of the original content, or do they take only what they need and leave the rest behind? Is it possible that all fan creations hold both at the same time?

This exhibition serves as a foundational component for the dissertation of Kate Rose, English Literature PhD Candidate at Marquette University. The pieces included in Affirmation/Transformation are available to online fan communities and fans are invited to use them as inspiration in their own affirmational or transformational works. Many of these works will be on display as a part of the exhibition on view at the Haggerty Museum of Art. Through the collection and display of these works, as well as through future interviews with fan creators, this dissertation questions the arbitrary boundary that academics have created between affirmational and transformational fandom and compares academic treatment of fan activities against the ways that these same activities are treated in fan communities.

For more information, or to participate in the Affirmation/Transformation Fandom Event, please visit https://epublications.marquette.edu/fandom/Affirmationtransformation/

Image: Mark Heresy, American, b. 1965, Will to Power, 1992, Ink on paper, 28 x 22 inches, 2000.11.5, Gift of Peter Norton, Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University

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