Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures


This unit brings together scholars and practitioners to investigate scribal culture in biblical and para-biblical literatures in comparison and contrast with the practice of writing fan fiction. Writers of fan fiction are well-versed in specific canons, for example a book or TV series. They engage with their canons in depth and create literature either set in the same fictional world as their canonical material or featuring the same characters. The material produced by fans, known as fan fiction, is a way of engaging with perceived canonical material that is intuitive and emotional, and can also be subversive. This research unit investigates possible intersections of fans’ ways of creating material based on a canon and (post-) biblical interpreters’ or redactors’ ways of compiling commentary or supplementary material on biblical canons in antiquity. The unit invites constructive and critical engagement with discontinuities (as well as continuities). For example, fan fiction is a contemporary phenomenon whose increased visibility is due to the Internet; put more generally, production and distribution is based on infrastructure different from ancient writings; therefore one may also expect different power relations and institutional contexts.

Fan fiction can be compared to the practices of groups of interpreters who have impacted the Bible and biblical interpretation in significant ways. This comparison can raise and answer questions about group identity, power, subversion, and impact of derivative works upon the canon. Fan fiction as a heuristic model allows us to study historical responses to antique corpora of texts, expressions of identities couched in derivative works, subversive manipulations of a canonical status quo, and emotional reactions to a canonical work.


Fan Fiction, Scribal Culture, Canon, Intertextuality



Sonja Ammann
University of Basel

Mette Bundvad

Frauke Uhlenbruch

Member Area

Warsaw 2019 Call for Papers

At the 2019 conference in Warsaw, we will focus on practices, rules, and conventions. We invite papers that investigate scribal and argumentative techniques and rules of interpretation, and by extension, how the status of canonical material is negotiated in commentary or fan fiction culture. We welcome papers that deal with questions such as: What conventions govern the use and reuse of motifs, characters, genres and so on in the process of rewriting? And seeing as the rewriting and reception of texts is also a question of power dynamics, who has the “right” to establish and maintain these conventions? How do explicit rules of interpretation as, e.g., formulated in rabbinic literature, compare and contrast with unwritten rules among fans? Papers may investigate the processes of reception and rewriting in an ancient context or focus on modern case studies. We would like presenters to focus on concrete text examples and case studies. We encourage participants to make their contributions in an interdisciplinary environment and to engage with canonical and fan material from a variety of cultures.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 2-5 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.