"Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures" is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives. Read more
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Photo Credits: Ritchie Ly and Geert Allegaert.
Despite ongoing public debate over the content of the books and a history of conflict with the copyright holders, the Harry Potter fandom continues to grow as new generations of readers discover the series. This is a particularly interesting time within the fandom, as fans anxiously await the release of the seventh and final book as well as the last three film adaptations of the novels. The lag between the release of the books (and, to some extent, the movies) has prompted a great deal of creative production within the fan community, including (but certainly not limited to) fan fiction and fan art, music videos and remixed trailers cut from movie footage, icon production, RPGs (role-playing games) and TCGs (trading card games), and podcasts.
This project is aimed at understanding the scope, process, and significance of the multimedia production taking place within the Harry Potter fandom. Of particular interest to this project is the multimedia production by young fans. Although a significant amount of research about the Harry Potter fandom has been published in recent years, most of this research has focused on the production of fan fiction and other written texts. This project, while continuing to value written work, focuses on the audio, video, and graphical production going on within the fandom. In addition, this project seeks to investigate the social networks that form around production within the fandom.
Methods will include interviews, ethnographic participant observation, and online questionnaires.
The research questions guiding the project include:
1. How do consumption and production practices operate within the Harry Potter fandom?
2. What do young people learn through fan production? How does this relate to the development of critical media literacy?
3. How and why does one become a producer in this context? What are the costs and/or barriers to access?
4. How do Harry Potter fans understand the legal dimensions of fan production? How do the relationships forged with copyright holders (i.e. J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers) by some groups of fans impact the fandom as a whole?
If you are interested in being interviewed about your participation in fandom, please
To participate in an online survey about the Harry Potter fandom, please click here to go to the survey page.
Printable versions of the survey information sheet can be found below: