Today, some of these historically established practices are called “fanfiction,” others “adaptation,” “sampling,” “appropriation,” “inspiration,” or “homage.” Differences in nomenclature have to do with copyright, ownership, authorial attitude, and final product. These names can suggest important creative as well as legal differences, and I don’t want to ignore these, although I don’t find them reliably distinguished by these words. Like many of the contemporary works that could be described by these more neutral, familiar terms, the historical instances I’ve discussed are related to what we understand as fanwriting (and there are many, many other examples; I would go so far as to suggest that there are as many examples as there have been writers in history). What we call fanfiction today is something else, though: it’s no longer just writing stories about existing characters and worlds—it’s writing those stories for a community of readers who already want to read them, who want to talk about them, and who may be writing them, too.
This conflict between imitatio and mimesis plays out with greater or lesser intensity until right this very minute, where on a blog near you an Edward/Bella fic writer is taking down a Rob/Kristen fic writer with something akin to extreme prejudice.
It could get down and dirty in the eighteenth century, too—as we see in debates surrounding the work of Charlotte Smith, who appropriated lines of Shakespeare and others into her influential sonnets. Was she engaging in the elegant tradition of imitation?
Or was she plagiarizing?
Writing. The community whose only constant is the extreme glee with which one writer tells another writer, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. It’s what Plato told all the poets, after all.
Uhh...I had words to describe this, but I think I'm just going to hold my tongue for now.
On another note, I'm into the section now which talks about the prehistory of fanfiction going back to times of Shakespeare and Dionysius - or rather derivative works from original sources. The foreword of this narrative wasn't bad - and in fact it mentioned derivations of Star Trek and even Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" as great examples of derived works from original source material. I had trouble with this statement though:
....fanfiction isn’t just an homage to the original—it’s subversive and perverse and boundary-breaking, and it always has been:...It’s about twisting and tweaking and undermining the source material of the fanfiction, and in the process adding layers and dimensions of meaning to it that the original never had.
Anne Jamison's Intro was kinda all over the place, more of a defense of fanfiction rather than an elaboration, and she mentions restricting the collection to what she finds most "influential" about its movement. There's some talk about restrictions/limitations of fanfiction as a movement with female writers, but yet she says that there were some restrictions in this collection she couldn't control, such as hearing from some male fanfic writers as as well as fic writers of color.
I noticed references to Harry Potter, Buffy, Star Trek, but no Star Wars or Dr. Who. (maybe they might come up later on.)