Williams, R. and P. Booth (ed.) (In Press)) A Fan Studies Primer: Method, Research, Ethics, Iowa: University of Iowa Press.

The discipline of fan studies is famously undisciplined. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t structured. This is the first comprehensive primer for classroom use that shows students how to do fan studies in practical terms. With contributions from a range of established and emerging scholars, coeditors Paul Booth and Rebecca Williams pull together case studies that demonstrate the wide array of methodologies available to fan studies scholars, such as auto/ethnography, immersion, interviews, online data mining, historiography, and textual analysis. This collection also probes the ethical questions that are unique to fan studies work, such as the use of online fan content for research, interview methods, consent, and privacy.

“This groundbreaking collection marks the further maturing of fandom studies as an academic field through its consideration of a diverse range of fan practices, methodologies, and theoretical issues, with a strong emphasis on ethical concerns. I know I will be sharing many of these contributions with my students for years to come.”—Henry Jenkins, author, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture

A Fan Studies Primer is a necessary contribution to the field. The book makes a vital case for the importance of methods and methodology in fan studies—while, importantly, recognizing the complexity and risks of doing so. It is an essential resource for scholars, researchers, and students.”—Adrienne Evans, Coventry University


Williams, R. (2020) Theme Park Fandom: Spatial Transmedia, Materiality, and Participatory Cultures, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.

Read a review here.

The book is concerned with challenging existing views of theme park fans as cultural dupes, instead arguing that theme parks offer a rich site for understanding contemporary transmediality, participatory cultures, and fan attachments to physical spaces and places. It highlights the links between transmedia, participatory cultures and media tourism, focusing on the intersections between fan tourism, material cultures, and mediated place. It seeks to challenge established binary oppositions between commercial and non-commercial media tourist sites, audiences and producers, and textual and spatial readings. Theme Park Fandom argues that serious study of theme parks and their adult fans has much to tell us about contemporary transmediality and convergence, themed and immersive spaces, and audience relationships with places of meaning. Considering the duopoly of Disney and Universal in Orlando, the book explores a range of theme park experiences including planning trips, meeting characters, eating and drinking, engaging in practices such as cosplay and re-enactment, and memorializing lost attractions. Highlighting key themes such as immersion, materiality, cultural distinctions, and self-identity, the book argues that theme parks are a crucial site for the exploration of transmediality and the development of paratexts. Proposing the key concepts of spatial transmedia and haptic fandom, the book offers analysis of the intersections between fandom, media texts, and merchandise, as well as fans’ own affective and physical responses to visiting the parks.

Williams, R. (ed.) (2018) Everybody Hurts: Transitions, Endings and Resurrections in Fandom, University of Iowa Press.

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Examining how fans respond to and cope with transitions, endings, or resurrections in everything from band breakups (R.E.M.) to show cancellations (Hannibal) to closing down popular amusement park rides, this collection brings together an eclectic mix of scholars to analyze the various ways fans respond to change. Essays explore practices such as fan discussion and creating alternative fan fictions, as well as cases where fans abandon their objects of interest completely and move on to new ones. Shedding light on how fans react, both individually and as a community, the contributors also trace the commonalities and differences present in fandoms across a range of media, and they pay close attention to the ways fandom operates across paratexts and transmedia forms including films, comics, and television. This fascinating approach promises to make an important contribution to the fields of fan, media, and cultural studies, and should appeal widely to students, scholars, and anyone else with a genuine interest in understanding why these transitions can have such a deep impact on fans’ lives.


Williams, R. (2015) Post-object Fandom: Television, Identity and Self-Narrative, London: Bloomsbury.

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Fandom is generally viewed as an integral part of everyday life which impacts upon how we form emotional bonds with ourselves and others in a modern, mediated world. Whilst it is inevitable for television series to draw to a close, the reactions of fans have rarely been considered. Williams explores this everyday occurence through close analysis of television fans to examine how they respond to, discuss, and work through their feelings when shows finish airing. Through a range of case studies, including The West Wing (NBC, 2000-2006), Lost (ABC 2004 -2010), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Doctor Who (BBC 1963-1989; 2005-), The X-Files (FOX, 1993-2002), Firefly (FOX, 2002) and Sex and the City (HBO, 1998-2004), Williams considers how fans prepare for the final episodes of shows, how they talk about this experience with fellow fans, and how, through re-viewing, discussion and other fan practices, they seek to maintain their fandom after the show’s cessation.

Williams, R. (ed.) (2013) Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television, London: I.B. Tauris.

Read a review here.  

Beginning life as a spin-off from the long-running series Doctor Who, Torchwood has established itself as an interesting and unique television series in its own right. From its movement from the niche channel of BBC3 to its incarnation as an international production between the BBC and the US network Starz, Torchwood has continued to be of interest to those interested in areas such as gender and sexuality, genre, and audience and fan responses. With chapters by established academics and emerging scholars, this book offers the first critical analysis of Torchwood across its four series, considering issues of representation, the fandom that surrounds the show, and its complex institutional contexts since. With a focus on how the meanings and understandings of cult television shift and have been subject to technological, industry and marketing shifts in recent years, the volume explores topics such as the use of cult writers on the fourth series Miracle Day, the use of tropes from the horror genre, Torchwood’s vast tie-in merchandise, its status as a spin-off, cult/mainstream celebrity, the use of sound and music, and its connection to place and location.