These are interesting times for reception theorists, especially those who study fandom, an extraordinary form of audiencing that includes everything from emotional attachment to performers to obsessive collecting. In particular, the nature of fandom's extraordinariness has changed a great deal in the past several decades, thanks to the advent of the Internet and digital production. Previously “abnormal” fan practices have not only become more and more accepted but also explicitly supported and nurtured by new technologies and reframed by niche marketing. We live in an age when “following” a stranger because you “like” her or him represents a harmless form of networking. As Twitter encourages us, “Follow your interests.”1

What has fascinated me most, however, is not the specific quality of these shifts but rather the ways they have begun to shape our understanding of fandom as a historical phenomenon. When I talk to my students about fandom, they...

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