Prof. merges two loves into book

Dr. Ashley Hinck’s premier literary work investigates fan-based citizenship

Xavier’s own Dr. Ashley Hinck, launched her first solo written book, Politics for the Love of Fandom: Fan-Based Citizenship in a Digital World, on March 13. The work is all about the merging of fandom and politics. Hinck, a communications professor, describes this blend as a new form of citizenship that can be powerful and productive, all thanks to the Internet.

In the book, she examines fan-based citizenship, the idea that civic action that is blended with and arises from participation in a fan-community (fandom). She argues that this works by appealing to one’s fondness of a fandom rather than traditional political institutions. In an increasingly digital world, citizens have more choices for institutions and groups to guide their civic actions.

Hinck investigates this through an exploration of four different case studies: the Huskers, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s college football fandom; the Nerdfighteria, a fandom based on YouTube’s Vlogbrothers; the Adult Fans of Lego; and Star Wars fans.

This concept has been in the making for years, Hinck explains, originating with her own passion for Harry Potter and its fan community. In college, she attended several Harry Potter conferences with friends and even discovered a podcast that discussed politics through Harry Potter.

“I thought that was so cool, because here I was at that moment in time, a fan of Harry Potter while also invested in politics, and this podcast combined the two,” Hinck said.

Hinck went to University of Wisconsin-Madison where she got a degree in communications with a concentration in Internet studies. She started collecting research for her book in 2012 as part of her dissertation.

“The research process for my book consisted of about a year of collecting data and a year of field work for each case study,” Hinck said. She aimed to better understand how particular fan communities work and what kinds of cultures come out of these fandoms.

She gained traction in answering these questions by hanging out with fans and interviewing them, giving them the opportunity to offer feedback on their beloved subjects.

“The process was work, but it was also a lot of fun,” she said. “It was really exciting and inspiring to see all the fandoms open up to me, an outsider, and teach me what it’s like to be a fan in all the different communities.”

On top of all the research, Hinck also went through an extensive writing process. Her favorite place to work on the book was in her home office, where it was quiet and there were lots of snacks.

Time management was key, because after sending the book proposal to her publisher and getting it approved, she had to provide a date the book could be published. To keep that deadline, Hinck would set aside roughly two to three hours, three days a week, to write the book.

Hinck shared that she planned to finish the book in 2019 because of its relevance. to upcoming elections. “I wanted to push myself to finish the book faster rather than slower because the information it provides is pertinent to politics right now,” Hinck said.

Hinck’s book was published in March and is currently available for purchase on Amazon.

By: Emilie Kracik | Staff Writer