Grants/Conference Funding for Transformative Works And Cultures

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Conference Funding for Transformative Works And Cultures

Applicants: Organization For Transformative Works
Affiliation: Organization for Transformative Works
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Allison Morris Development Officer, Organization for Transformative Works Board, Organization for Transformative Works
Coordinator: Dr. Karen Hellekson and Dr. Kristina Busse, Editors, Transformative Works and Cultures.
Project Start: 2010/08/01
Project End: 2011/07/31
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Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is an online, international, peer-reviewed journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) and copyrighted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Since TWC's launch in September, 2008, we have published four issues of scholarship about transformative works such as fan fiction, fan vids, film, TV, anime, comic books, fan community, video games, and machinima, as well as articles about media studies and articles about the fan community; a fifth issue is in copyedit, a sixth in draft, and further issues are planned through 2012. However, as the OTW is a small, member-supported nonprofit, we are not currently able to send our editorial staff to the national and international conferences they should attend in order to promote our journal, solicit new work, network with potential peer reviewers, etc. Despite the evolution of new technologies that could make conference attendance more open (live streaming video and audio, Second Life, Twitter, liveblogging) many, if not most conferences, even those on media and new technology, remain closed to those who cannot afford to go there in person, pay the registration fee, and sit in the room. We believe that it is important for our editors - who represent a new, more open, more accessible form of scholarship - to engage with the larger academic world; we are therefore applying for editorial conference funds to support our work.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

We will track what conferences our editors attend, the presentations they make, and what TWC essays, interviews, reviews, etc. they solicit so we can generate press releases and other materials explicating our evolution as a truly new form of media scholarship. We will also develop a byline for use on TWC materials noting that the journal both uses Creative Commons licenses and has been supported by a Creative Commons grant.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

Transformative Works and Cultures offers top quality, peer reviewed scholarship on media studies, fan studies, gender studies, and related disciplines for free and to all who are interested in these subjects regardless of academic affiliation. At a time when traditional journals are increasingly cowed by the chilling effects of copyright, we are committed to fair use and strongly support our writers' right to quote, cite, clip, and embed. Also, while most media studies journals are still anchored to print, we are entirely online and can support audio, video, images, and other forms of multimedia scholarship. We also encourage fans who are not academics to write for the "Symposium" section of TWC and try to promote dialogue between academic communities and fan />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

The founding editors of Transformative Works and Cultures - Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse - are the editors of a noted fan studies collection, "Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet" (McFarland, 2006) and both have published related work in various prestigious venues. TWC is published by the Organization for Transformative Works; many members of the OTW's board are themselves noted "acafen" - or academics who are also fans - and the OTW has always supported academic work on fan studies, media studies, and television studies, as well as legal scholarship promoting open access and fair use.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

By its nature (online, open-source, CC-licensed) and because of its subject matter (media studies, fan studies, gender studies), Transformative Works and Cultures is known within a certain subset of the academic community: online, media-savvy, highly technological first-adopters. However, for us to reach potential collaborators - and readers - beyond this sphere requires that we maintain some physical presence in the more traditional spaces of academe. We believe that we will be able to evaluate our success by seeing a broader range of contributors on a broader range of subjects on our TOC.

An illustrative example: last year, the OTW was asked to co-direct the IP/Gender conference at the American University School of Law. We helped them develop their program of speakers, and in return, they provided funding for many of the independent scholars associated with the OTW or TWC to be able to attend the conference. As a result, our editors solicited essays on quilting as transformative work and on filk singing and wizard rock; these papers came from outside our typical orbit and greatly added to the scope and vibrancy of our third issue. We believe that with additional funds, we can extend and amplify this result.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

We are seeking conference support for our two editors, who otherwise work for TWC on an entirely volunteer basis. Their purpose is to network with potential contributors, readers, and reviewers and to solicit essays and other materials to ensure that TWC continues to publish the best material available and to maintain the depth and quality of TWC's scholarship. We see these goals as largely self-sustaining, as TWC is, as an academic journal, the sum of its contributors and their contributions, creating an ongoing scholarly dialogue.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

TWC literally produces new knowledge for the commons through Creative Commons licensing. Most academic institutions and scholarly commentators agree that the way we have traditionally produced scholarly knowledge needs to change and evolve; your support of an independent, online, Gold Open Access, open source, CC-licensed journal would help us change academic culture.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

TWC is published online using OJS (Open Journal Systems) software on servers owned by the member-supported Organization For Transformative Works. However - and somewhat ironically - we are seeking support in order to engage in less technical forms of academic engagement: conferences and face-to-face networking, meaning that we do not need additional technologies or tools. Our editors, Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson, have extensive experience successfully soliciting contributors for academic publishing, building relationships with scholars, and growing the prestige of their disciplines through conference work. They have both earned respect as editors and as scholars, and are valued members of both the fandom and the academic communities. Busse and Hellekson's roles in a conference setting extend past article solicitation, editing, and publication as well, encouraging citation of TWC articles, fostering continued academic discourse, and growing both the prestige of the journal and the legitimacy of their field.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Launching Transformative Works and Cultures has been all about overcoming challenges: we have had to build the kind of open source, open access, supportive space that we needed to publish quality scholarship about transformative works. We know that we have no leeway if we want to be taken seriously: we are an unaffiliated journal edited by two independent scholars on the subject of fan cultures, remix, and transformative works. Consequently, we have the highest standards, we are scrupulous about peer review, and - unlike most academic journals - we publish exactly on time. We have also solicited a number of guest editors to helm particular themed issues to broaden our reach: for example, Henry Jenkins, Sangita Shresthova, Catherine Tosenberger, Julie Levin Russo, Madeline Ashby, Nancy Reagin, Anne Rubenstein, and Rebecca Carlson all have or will guest-edit issues for us. Our biggest challenge, however, continues to be access to academic spaces that assume institutional support.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

The OTW has an established fundraising system in place, with demonstrated successful growth over the course of the first three years of the organization's existence. In 2007, the year the OTW was established as a nonprofit, we raised $10,069 in the course of general funding drives; in 2008, we raised $22,074; in 2009, we raised $38,627. We expect that our general fundraising will continue to provide capital sufficient for the maintenance and growth of our existing projects, with room for further project development. Transformative Works and Cultures will doubtlessly attract additional supporters as our values - fair use, open access, multimedia and multimodal scholarship - become known and our standing within the academic community becomes more established. Fundraising to build on successful conference work may be conducted as necessary into the future, and we will continue to seek additional grant support to further this and other OTW projects.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

The goal of TWC is not to be scalable, but to be sustainable: to continue to produce two issues of quality scholarship a year well into the future. Ideally, we would inspire others to adopt our model and our values. We believe that TWC is part of a new wave of quality, online, open access, CC-licensed scholarship that will change the way new knowledge is shared.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

In addition to having Creative Commons support for the goal of fair use, open access, CC-licensed scholarship, we are seeking financial support in order to give our editors the chance to promote TWC and network with scholars at important national academic conferences. The OTW is proud to already be using CC-licenses on many of its products; our academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures, as well as its sister blog, The Symposium, are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. We are currently planning an educational campaign on fair use; we also want to help our users understand the various rights associated with copyright and with various licenses. We ask that Creative Commons aid us in these goals by providing informational materials and public support for the project, and we would also like help with establishing an officer in the OTW responsible for liaising with Creative Commons, carrying out educational initiatives, and continuing to seek situations in which CC-licenses are appropriate to the organization and our membership.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

Transformative Works and Cultures publishes online [1] and also publishes a sister site, the Symposium Blog [2]. The OTW maintains a blog at with mirrors on various other sites. A full list of networks and communications methods can be found here: