1. Working Thesis Statement: The value in fandoms come from their ability to reignite the original flame of literary education; by creating a desire to study, engage, and think critically about the text enabling a remarkable academic experience without all of the pressures and stigma of academia.
2. Preliminary Research: I've written about the subject in a few different places: The Fandom Project, Curation Via Pinterest, Youth Online, Fandoms, Hipsters and Longtails, Entertainment, Make Something
Not all of these have to do specifically with fandoms within education, but they all talk about different aspects of fandom culture (such as hipsters, or whether or not something is entertaining) or about some of the important things fandoms help people do (such as making something to make the world better or identifying yourself online.)
3. Relevance: This subject is relevant to the community because of the general feeling of disconnect between academic research about literature and the public as well as the stigma that comes with being part of a fandom. Both of these groups of people can consider themselves outcasts from every day members of society, but they both bring great good to this world through their research and creation. I'm hoping that this paper will help them see that they aren't so different from each other, and if fandoms can be channeled to create content that is as respected as academia then maybe academia might be able to make their research more enjoyable and able to connect with people that may not have their elevated understanding of literature. As such, I will specifically be targeting members of fandoms more than those in academia. I'm hoping to inspire and help them reach for everything that they can be. I know that because of the rigidness of academia many members might dislike my idea that fandom can be scholarly, so I'm hoping that my audience will be able to prove them wrong.
4. Format: Probably a research paper, maybe an academic article if I can make the tone and research right.
5. Outlet: Digital Humanities: And Beyond
a) Curation of Content: I created a secret Pinterest board (so I don't both my followers with school related things) called "fandoms" I don't know if people will be able to see it (since it is secret) but I'll link it here anyway: Fandoms. I also have another pinterest board that I will no doubt be drawing upon. It doesn't just have to do with fandoms, but is my personal board of nerdy things I love: Nerd
b) Curation of Secondary Sources: For secondary sources I'm gathering everything from scholarly articles and blog posts to tumblr blogs, pins on pinterests and general discussion on twitter, facebook, and tumblr. Some of the fabulous research was done by my friends who helped me with my topic and can be found here, here and here (though this last one wasn't meant for me, it was still helpful)
c) Curation of Community: Youth Online by Angela Thomas, Twitter #fandoms (and @Matt Bodinham who is apparently doing a dissertation on fandoms) Tumblr blogs: missmegrose and mrshaleydeanwinchesterackles
7. Social Proof: I have found many people on tumblr that are dedicated to fandoms. I'm going to contact them and ask them what they think about fandoms in academia (one is currently going to college and another is a college graduate. I have also received responses from facebook and google+ on whether people think fandoms have inherent value. Several people have expressed interest in my project, though ironically most of them have told me offline, rather than online. One of my side research projects will be to figure out why people are willing to tell me they are nerdy and enjoy fandoms offline but keep that part of themselves hidden while they are online.
8. Next Steps: The next steps for me will to be organizing my thoughts and research in order to write my paper. As I get more information from the people I've contacted through twitter and tumblr I'm hoping I'll be able to organize other fans thoughts into the paper to make it more connected to fandoms as a whole. The majority of my work this next week will be drafting and writing up the paper and stringing my thoughts together. I also need to make sure I have all the research I need to back up my claims. If I start writing and realize that I'm making up most of my points, I'll know I made a wrong turn somewhere along the way.