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Předmět, akademický rok 2019/2020
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Popculture As Mythology, Fandom As Religion - ARL100324
Anglický název: Popculture As Mythology, Fandom As Religion
Zajišťuje: Ústav filosofie a religionistiky (21-UFAR)
Fakulta: Filozofická fakulta
Platnost: od 2019
Semestr: letní
Body: 0
E-Kredity: 5
Způsob provedení zkoušky: letní s.:
Rozsah, examinace: letní s.:2/0 Zk [hodiny/týden]
Počet míst: neurčen / neurčen (30)
Minimální obsazenost: neomezen
Stav předmětu: nevyučován
Jazyk výuky: angličtina
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Poznámka: předmět je možno zapsat mimo plán
povolen pro zápis po webu
Garant: Mgr. Bc. Barbara Oudová Holcátová
Třída: A – Mezioborová nabídka VP: Filosofie, náboženství
Exchange - 08.1 Philosophy
Exchange - 14.7 Anthropology
Rozvrh   Nástěnka   
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Bc. Barbara Oudová Holcátová (09.01.2019)
This class aims to explore the relationship between modern popular culture and the role myths and religion play in non-secular societies. With this in mind, we will be focusing chiefly on such popular culture that has both some corpus of ‘canon’, be it in the form of books, films, TV shows or video games, and also some community which makes it possible to explore the practice tied to these canonical ‘texts’. This means on one hand that we will be generally excluding various sports, which while often providing fitting example of modern pseudo-religious phenomena mostly lack any kind of ‘canon’, and on the other hand those popular media that do not have an extensive fandom around them.
The goal of this class is to facilitate better understanding of the cultural setting in which we live, as well as the way it affects our society, and to show similarities with the systems of thought frequently thought of as ‘old’, with the hopes of better understanding them, as well, through this connection.
Personal experience with any and all aspects of popular culture is not necessary, but is welcome, and studied examples will be chosen partly based on what the students are familiar with and interested in.
Podmínky zakončení předmětu
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Bc. Barbara Oudová Holcátová (09.01.2019)

Graded essay on one of the class topics.

Poslední úprava: Mgr. Bc. Barbara Oudová Holcátová (09.01.2019)

Bacon-Smith, Camille, Enterprising women: Television fandom and the creation of popular myth, Philadephia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

Bartes, Roland, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers, New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.

Eco, Umberto, Apocalypse postponed, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Fiske, John, Understanding popular culture, London: Routledge, 2010.

Gray, Jonathan, Cornel Sandvoss and C. Lee Harrington (eds.), Fandom: Identities and communities in a mediated world, New York: NYU Press, 2017.

Harris, Cheryl, and Alison Alexander, Theorizing fandom: Fans, subculture, and identity, New York: Hampton Press, 1998.

Hills, Matthew, Fan cultures, London: Routledge, 2003.

Lewis, Lisa A., The adoring audience: Fan culture and popular media, London: Routledge, 2002.

Storey, John (ed.), Cultural theory and popular culture: A Reader, 4th edition, London: Routledge, 2008.

Storey, John, An Introduction to cultural theory and popular culture, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Poslední úprava: Mgr. Bc. Barbara Oudová Holcátová (17.05.2019)

21st may class:

Jacqueline M. Pinkowitz, "The rabid fans that take [Twilight] much too seriously": The construction and rejection of excess in Twilight antifandom

This article is not availiable in PDF above, but instead is accessible here: https://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/247/253 Warning: it contains quotes with slurs, particularly homophobic oes.

  1. What is Anti-Twilight Movement's stance?

  2. How are Twilight fans characterised in the media?

  3. What are antifans, in general?

  4. How does this all relate to cultural hierarchy?

  5. How do Twilight fans supposedly show their excess?

  6. And the antifans?

  7. How does ATM do gatekeeping?

  8. How does this all relate to class?

  9. And gender?

  10. Compare all this to atheist and anti-religious movements. You can try checking some official websites (like https://www.atheistalliance.org for example), but they are usually too professional for the comparison to really work, so I'd rather ecommend atheist social media accounts and the comments there. https://www.facebook.com/Atheists/ works quite well, but the selection is large, you can check out your national pages and other social media accounts and other sources.

14th May class:

"Fans and Tourism", in H. and S. Linden, Fans and Fan Cultures: Tourism, Consumerism and Social Media , from question nr 4 (see below)

+ Thomas A. Tweed, "John Wesley Slept Here"

You do not need to read that article in such detail, but I do want you to look it over and look for similarities and differences between thsi type of religious pilgrimage and what the article above describes. Also take into account what Petersen said about pilgrimages in his article.

Mackellar, "Dabblers, fans and fanatics: Exploring behavioural segmentation at a special-interest event"

  1. Are Elvis fan clubs similar to churches in any way?

  2. Is there any activity similar to collecting “Elvis stuff” in religion?

  3. Is Elvis cosplay different from “regular” cosplay?

  4. How do we define a fanatic?

  5. What happens at the Elvis Revival Festival?

  6. How is Beth's group a good representation for the social segment of festival attendees?

  7. Howcare dabblers defined?

  8. What are typical characteristics of an Elvis fan?

  9. How are fanatics different?

7th may class:

Lamerichs, Costuming as subculture: The multiple bodies of cosplay, from question nr. 6 (see below)

"Fans and Tourism", in H. and S. Linden, Fans and Fan Cultures: Tourism, Consumerism and Social Media 

  1. How can pilgrimages be intertextual?

  2. Why do so many people come to a Bosch exhibition in his home town?

  3. What is a place?

  4. Who are “chavs”?

  5. Is Harry Potter real?

+ Thomas A. Tweed, "John Wesley Slept Here"

You do not need to read that article in such detail, but I do want you to look it over and look for similarities and differences between thsi type of religious pilgrimage and what the article above describes. Also take into account what Petersen said about pilgrimages in his article.


30th April class:

Lamerichs, Costuming as subculture: The multiple bodies of cosplay

  1. Why is cosplay liminal?

  2. What do you think about the contrast between cosplay and theatre?

  3. How is cosplay similar to religious rituals?

  4. Why is cosplay carnivalesque?

  5. Are cosplayers acting?

  6. How do costumes relate to body?

  7. What is the relationship between character body and actual body?

  8. Look at the photos in the article. How do they complement it?

16th April class:

Henry Jenkins, "Scribbling in the Margins", in Textual Poachers , from question nr. 4 (see below).

We will not have a new secondary text for this class; instead, we will look at some primary sources. To this end, I'd ask you to read the text uploaded here ("Versions of the Queen of Sheba's story"), as well as the Hebrew Bible Book of Esther, to look at some basic information about Ishtar if you’re entirely unfamiliar (the Wiki page will do) and read the following abstract by dr. Brownsmith:

The “Alternate Universe” of the Foreign Court: Esther and Daniel as Jewish Fan FictionS
For over a century, scholars have noted the similarities between certain ancient Near Eastern characters and the heroes of Esther and Daniel, the Bible’s two Jewish court dramas. Like Daniel, the Aqhat Epic’s Dānî’ilu is a pious sage with the ability to interpret signs; like Esther, the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar is a seductive but fierce protectress; like Mordechai, the Babylonian god Marduk is a kingmaker who refuses to bow to other deities. However, the literary relationship between those epic heroes and their biblical counterparts is still a subject of active debate. Modern fan fiction provides a useful frame to analyze the reinvention of these characters: the genre of the “Alternate Universe” (AU). Most famously seen in Fifty Shades of Grey, an AU story transports beloved characters into a new setting, preserving their names and core attributes within a new setting and plot. By connecting a preexisting, familiar character to a fresh new setting, authors can gain readership in that setting that would have been difficult with original characters; the average reader cares more about the fate of beautiful Ishtar than that of a previously-unknown woman. Thus, Esther and Daniel take familiar but non-Israelite characters and ask “what if?”: “what if Dānî’ilu were a Jew in the Babylonian court?” The goal is not to depict historical events, but to demonstrate successful adherence to Jewish identity while abroad, using the colorful world of the court as a fresh but familiar setting.


9th April class:

Anders K. Petersen, "The difference between religious narratives and fictional literature: a matter of degree only" from question nr. 3 (see below)

Henry Jenkins, "Scribbling in the Margins", in Textual Poachers 

  1. How does the example of four fans of Quantum Leap contradict the idea of de Certeau? 
  2. What is fans' meta text? 
  3. What was the socioeconomics of fanworks before the internet? 
  4. And ethics? 
  5. How is conformity of fan stories ensured? 
  6. Try to look at the ten types of fanfiction Jenkins presents and decide if there is something equivalent to be found when it comes to religious texts (ie are there writings expanding the timeline of the Bible etc) 

You don't need to read the case study, but I do recommend it, particularly to those who have little experience with fanfiction. 


26th March class:

Carole M. Cusack, "Harry potter and the Sacred Text: Fiction, Reading and Meaning-Making", from question nr. 1 (see below), including the opening round of questions.

Anders K. Petersen, "The difference between religious narratives and fictional literature: a matter of degree only" 

  1. What is the relationship of fictional and religious literature to faction and fiction?

  2. What is the premise of sameness of the world?

  3. Is there textual autonomy?

  4. What are counter - intuitive elements?

  5. What does it mean when something is referentially true, and are sacred texts true in this way?

  6. How are fictional narratives anchored to the “real world”?

  7. What does it have to do with evolution?

  8. What characteristics does a narrative need to be considered religious?


19th March class:

Cornel Sandvoss, "The Death of the Reader?", from question nr. 1 (see below)

Carole M. Cusack, "Harry potter and the Sacred Text: Fiction, Reading and Meaning-Making"

  1. What requirements does a text need to meet to serve as an alternative to religious texts?

  2. How is “HP and the Sacred Text” a democratization of religion?

  3. What are the temporal and mythical elements of Harry Potter?

  4. According to Petersen, what is the difference between a sacred and a profane text?

  5. What are the particularly religious aspects of the HP and the Sacred Text approach?

  6. Do you find Mikhail's arguments relevant?

  7. Do you consider any fictional characters your role-models?

Related to the topic of the sexond text, if you want to observe the phenomenon for yourself: http://www.harrypottersacredtext.com/ 

12th March class:

Roland Barhes, Myth Today, from question nr. 6 (see below)

Cornel Sandvoss, "The Death of the Reader?: Literary Theory and the Study of Texts in Popular Culture", in Gray (ed.), Fandom, Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

  1. What is a common criticism of fan studies?

  2. What is a text?

  3. Is authorship relevant?

  4. How does the medium influence the issue?

  5. What is field of gravity, urtext and paratext in this context?

  6. How are fan scholars and philologists similar to apprentice chefs?

  7. Is intertextuality particular to popculture?

  8. Where is aesthetic value of a text manifested?

  9. What is normalization of texts and why is it important?

  10. How does it work in fandom?


5th March class:

Umberto Eco from question nr. 7 (see below)

Roland Barhes, Myth Today

Please be warned that he uses dated racial language. Also, if you have trouble understanding parts of the text, then in this one case as long as you are able to answer the questions, you do not need to concern yourself with it - there is a number of obscure passages that are not very relevant for our class.

  1. Why is it important that myth is a type of speech, and in what sense is it true?

  2. Are there eternal myths?

  3. Why is semiology relevant for the study of myth?

  4. What does it mean that myth is a second order semiological system?

  5. What is the signified and signifier for a black man saluting on the cover of a French paper?

  6. How is meaning impoverished in myth?

  7. What does Barthes mean when he says that myth hides nothing, and do you agree?

  8. How is myth like an alibi?

  9. How is myth personal?

  10. Is mythical signification arbitrary? Why?

  11. What are the different approaches to reading myth?

  12. How does myth transform history into nature?

26th February class:

Questions to Umberto Eco, Apocalpse Postponed, chapter "Apocalyptic and INtegrated Intellectuals"

  1. Who are apocalyptic and integrated intellectuals?

  2. What are intellectual fetish concepts?

  3. How does that relate to supermen?

  4. What were the first cases of mass culture in Europe?

  5. In what way are books different from newspapers?

  6. What is the culture industry?

  7. How does Marx come into it?

  8. Why is the ideology of integrated intellectuals false?

  9. Why do critics need to condemn kitsch?

  10. What is mysterium televisionis?

  11. What does St Bernard have to do with it?

  12. And apples?

  13. How does this whole problem look when we consider it from the point of view of accessibility?

  14. Is soem of what Eco says here applicable in religious studies and theology as well?


    The Course syllabus:

    What is mythology, and can popculture be a form of it?
    Genre writings as sacred texts
    Protagonists as objects of hero cults
    Oral traditions, apocryphal traditions and fanwork
    Fan fiction as interpretative lens
    What is religion, and can fandom be a form of it?
    Conventions as religious gatherings
    Cosplay as ritual activity
    Role-playing as possession
    Online communities as religious movements
    “Stanning” as religious fundamentalism
    Final points and summary of the course


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