This workshop uses the model of fan fiction to conceptualize early Jewish and Christian text production.
Fan fiction are texts, films, or other media created by fans of TV series, films, books, or book series, etc. Fans engage with the universe created by the makers of a specific series, film, or book. For example, they create new storylines, “repair” plots they do not agree with, write prequels or sequels, and fill in scenes that are missing. The internet allows an unprecedented visibility of fan fiction – up to the point where writers of the “canonical” series look to fan fiction and take the opinions of fans into account when writing new “canonical” material. Significantly, writers of fan fiction work within a set of rules defined by the fandom over time. For example, inventing a new character who does not exist in the “canon” is frowned upon; also, one does not write oneself into the storyline.
As an interpretative model, fan fiction provides excellent heuristic tools for exploring anew the composition of early Jewish and Christian texts. Two perspectives are particularly relevant. Firstly, fan fiction helps us explore questions of textual authority. How did the early Jewish and Christian texts acquire their authority, and in what ways did they make creative use of the authority of already existing texts? Contemporary fan fiction offers a very useful analogy here. As texts are rewritten and reimagined by their fans, they may gain in authority, for example. Similarly, the rewritten media itself occasionally gains a measure of authority, inspiring perhaps further rewritings.
Secondly, fan fiction enables us to study the continuity between the production and reception of texts. Fan fiction writers are readers of texts who become writers of their own texts. A similar relationship between the reception of existing material and new text production existed in early Judaism and Christianity. Here practitioners of fan fiction can offer important insights about writing additional material to supplement an existing “canon”.
This workshop brings together contributions by biblical scholars and writers and theorists of fan fiction. Two sessions are planned. Half of the first session will be an interview with a fan fiction theorist and practitioner, conducted by a biblical scholar. The second half of this session will feature three invited papers. We welcome paper proposals for a second open session.