Franchising the Past: Transmedia Historiography, Cultural Memory Management, and the Fanboy Historian

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Abstract

This article discusses the phenomena of “transmedia historiography” and the “fanboy historian” to investigate the role of nonfiction practices in contemporary media franchising through a case study of Star Wars (George Lucas et al., 1977). I argue that since 1977, Lucasfilm gradually developed a transmedia historiography to construct, disseminate, and manage a coherent cultural history of the franchise. Fans play a crucial role in this process. Lucasfilm incorporates the historical productivity of some fans to foster a cultural memory of the franchise and also invests much effort in writing the history of Star Wars to counter independently produced, fan-made histories that challenge the company’s historical narrative. As such, transmedia historiography and the fanboy historian reinforce Lucasfilm’s preferred versions of the past and guarantee future relevance and consumption of franchise products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159–182
JournalJCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies
Volume61
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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