What about all those prequels and sequels?

The Biochemist sent me the link to the ongoing discussion at Henry Jenkins’ blog about gender and fan studies, which spends a lot of time on transmedia storytelling, negative capability (new concept for me), and the debate about canon vs. fanon. The conversation continues in a second part today, discussing ownership of fan fiction and authorship. Tosenberger makes an interesting point when she clarifies her own definition of literature:

I tend to use “literature” in a very broad “written prose, poetry, and drama” sense (and yes I know that’s vague), and not as a term that marks artistic quality (i.e., “This isn’t just a romance novel, it’s literature!” — a statement that makes me want to throw things). For me, fanfiction *is* literature — it’s written fiction — that’s not commercially published. I can see why there are those connotations, though; commercial publication lends such an aura of… respectability. It’s been vetted by somebody, somewhere, who decided that *this* story was fit to sell. But “possibly commercially successful” and “aesthetically successful” are not the same thing. But the thing is, just because fanfiction hasn’t — and often can’t, when we’re talking about fanfic for in-copyright texts — be commercially published, that doesn’t mean it somehow isn’t literature, and has no chance of being *good* literature, at that.

When TB and I were emailing back and forth (before I read the second post), we touched on a few things, including the heinous Scarlett**, the upcoming prequel to GWTW told from Rhett’s perspective****, IP/copyright distinctions in the East and West, and the plethora of Austen prequels and sequels and retellings of P&P from other perspectives. Which made the link to a Salon article posted in the comments to the Austenticity post at SBTB all the more interesting to me. I don’t have a problem with a critical evaluation of chick lit or popular fiction as a reinterpretation of Jane Austen…but I get the feeling that the author of the Salon article had much the same feelings as Geoffrey Long did back at Jenkins’ blog — it’s noncanon and often outside the scope of “negative capability” and is therefore questionable and not literature (in a much narrower definition than Tosenberger’s).

**as if she would ever have left Tara

****seriously, his allure is his mystery; if you reveal the man behind the curtain, his desirability will disappear, rather like that of Ranger in Evanovich’s Plum series

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