Does Gender Matter?: 2. Method, Results and Terminology

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2. Method, Results and Terminology

In early February, 2003, I researched within groups.yahoo.com as well as uk.yahoo.com, ca.yahoo.com, and au.yahoo.com to see if there were Tolkien fanfiction communities based in North America and overseas. All of the fanfiction communities were within the North American yahoo.com setting. Since I was interested especially in those writers who were writing about Tolkien women characters, I also contacted the five groups that were women-focused or not as LotR focused. There are many individuals with their own sites and fanfiction communities so I attempted to contact many of them as well, and they are listed at the end of this essay. The survey that I posted consisted of a “cover letter” in which I introduced myself as being a member of the Tolkien fandom community about to embark on a scholarly paper on women writers of Tolkien fanfiction. I then included the survey of questions. I set up a Hotmail account to receive the surveys (dinenwen@hotmail.com, dinenwen meaning “silent maiden” in Sindarin, the more common version of the Quenya language used by Tolkien’s Elves) and from February 3rd to February 15th I received 62 replies. In the survey I indicated that I would not use any author’s real names (unless they said that was how they wanted to be represented), so their pseudonyms or an anonymous indicator is used for all quotes from the responses received.

Results

The focus of my questions related to the relationships of women writers of Tolkien fanfiction and the characters about which they write. Since the survey was sent by someone within the Tolkien fandom community, I believe that the responses received are more earnest and impassioned than they would have been if the questions were posited by someone acting in a more detached and clinical manner, thus distancing the responses. I phrased my questions within the context of this essay as a way for the opinions of these writers’ voices to be heard, and I hope that this does so, with dignity and integrity. In researching the topic of fandom, I found many papers and books dealing with television- and film-based fandom, and many about the slash genre, but none that are unique to the Tolkien online fanfiction community. In a November 2002 article in the online version of Australia’s The Age there is a reference, but only after leading the article with a Harry Potter fanfiction excerpt: “Young Harry may inspire the most scribes, but he is by no means alone in attracting attention. FanFiction.Net has more than 10,000 additions to Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings series.” Consulting FanFiction.Net on March 16th, 2003, the number of stories in the Lord of the Rings category is now 16,820, an increase of 68% in 5 months.

Terminology

The Tolkien online fanfiction community shares many terms with other fanfiction groups to describe attributes and genres of writing. People familiar with these communities and media studies in general will be familiar with these terms that appear in the responses submitted by the writers in this survey. These include Slash, OC or OFC (Original Character or Original Female Character), Mary Sue, and AU (Alternate Universe). These have been discussed in such fandom studies books as Textural Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith’s work, Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. One term that is unique to the Tolkien fanfiction community is Silmfic, indicating that the story is set during the time period of The Silmarillion, or the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth. A glossary of terms can be found in the Appendix of this essay, the definitions written with the Tolkien fanfiction community in mind.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Thevina Finduilas

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/04/04

Original Post: 03/19/03

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