This week, a colleague and I interviewed a fan fiction writer for the upcoming workshop “Fan Fiction and the Study of Scribal Culture” (EABS Annual Meeting, Cordoba, Spain, July 12-15).
It was great to get to bombard her with questions about canon, the authority of canon, but also: why write “more of”? What is it about a canonical piece that makes you need more, fill in gaps, fix plotholes? The answer to that question was not analytical, it was emotional. You write because you love your canon.
It was a fascinating conversation and it showed many similarities as well as a deluge of dissimilarities between writing fan fiction and studying parabiblical texts, rewritten Bible, Midrash etc.
We talked about fluctuating canons, that canon is a choice; we talked about writing as a communal activity, where those who know the canon as well as you do help and pitch in; about the joy of reading more of a story you love, the power that comes with writing and re-writing, and also the limitations imposed upon that power – those instances where the writer must not deviate from the canon or the writing/reading community imposes certain codes of practice (you do not write yourself into a story, for example).
We talked about gender, anonymity, pseudepigraphy, slash fiction and ships, and the way practitioners disappoint theoreticians by doing something theory did not at all anticipate.
I look forward to putting the material from this interview into a relationship (ship, hehe) with biblical scholarship on Bible, canon, authority, and commentary in the next few weeks and to presenting the results with my colleagues at the conference in Cordoba.
I have decided to launch Gods and Machines as a project complementary to the panel “Science Fiction and the Bible” at the European Association of Biblical Studies.
It’s sort of an academic blog, but not just that: if fiction comes along, great. If art comes along, awesome, if I can curate guest contributions from scientists, excellent.
The common theme is, well, god in the machine, god out of the machine, religion, its literatures, utopia, dystopia, and science fiction (I take none of these constructed categories overly seriously, though).