Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo - CONFERENZE, Women and the Silent Screen Conference

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Who Is This Fan? Fandom and Fan Identity As Seen Through the Works of a Lil Dagover and Henny Porten Fan
Maj Eimers

Last modified: 2010-05-12

Abstract


In the archives of the Nederlands Filmmuseum lies a collection of scrapbooks about the German silent film actresses Lil Dagover and Henny Porten. It’s a vast collection, containing twenty-three scrapbooks filled with postcards, photographs and magazine and newspaper clippings. The material was collected and produced in seven decades, beginning in the 1910s and continuing until Dagover’s death in 1980. Flipping through the pages of any of the twenty-three books, you can’t help but notice how well made they are, how much time was put into the creation of this collection, how much eye for detail whoever made these scrapbooks had and how personal these works are. It seems like a fantastic example of the art of scrapbook making. The only problem is, nobody knows where the collection came from or who made it.

My study of these twenty-three scrapbooks will attempt to determine who this Lil Dagover and Henny Porten fan was. Looking at the material this person has collected on these two actresses, the way he or she documented their work and their lives, the personal letters, notes and captions that the scrapbook maker included in the collection and the overall look of the scrapbooks, I will try to determine the identity of the fan. I will try to answer this question by looking at how this scrapbook maker (consciously or subconsciously) presents his or herself as a fan in these twenty-three scrapbooks in the context of context of fan studies and in relation to other scrapbook collections held by the Nederlands Filmmuseum. Given that the historical fan, especially, does not always have a name and a face, the material these fans collected and created should offer us relevant and original insights into fan identity and fandom. My presentation will take a different approach to fan studies by focusing on the individual construction of identity and the personal relationship of the fan to the object of his or her fandom (in this case two German actresses). I will argue that by using the unconventional source of the anonymous scrapbook and leaving the "mould" of popular fan theories, new observations on the nature of fandom, fan identity and fan creation can be made expand the existing theories of fandom, creating more room for the historic fan.


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