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The Journal of Fandom Studies

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Filk is broadly defined as the traditional folk-based music and related community created by and for a sub-community of science fiction and fantasy fans. Born in the 1950s, filk today includes international participants of various experience levels and musical styles. Social context and music are equally important in this tradition; prominent values include self-expression, play and building a face-to-face co-creative, collaborative group experience. This article, founded on Textual Poachers (1992), assumes that filk remains a folk music in many ways, and that filkers still prefer face-to-face musical and personal interaction in spite of a lively, diverse online filk community. I gathered ethnographic data through participant-observation and a questionnaire to examine the following questions. How does the filk community value face-to-face and online interaction, how do filkers negotiate moving between these two domains and how do the domains interact? With four generations of filkers now active, are there generational differences? I postulate that the face-to-face group creativity and co-creation in filk is based on a fluid and permeable performer/audience boundary, allowing individual and group expression to happen simultaneously. This in-person, real-time, deeply immersive co-created experience reinforces a strong sense of community, making face-to-face interaction highly valued.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in The Journal of Fandom Studies, 2016, Volume 4, Issue 2.

The version of record is available through: Intellect.