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Open Access "You're My True Vessel": Knowledge and Digital Fan Culture Discussed on the Basis of Mediumship and Possession in Supernatural's Narrative and Fandom

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"You're My True Vessel": Knowledge and Digital Fan Culture Discussed on the Basis of Mediumship and Possession in Supernatural's Narrative and Fandom

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Portrayals of mediumship in modern Western television narratives need to be seen as part of a broader phenomenon of the presence of religious elements in Western media, a phenomenon I argue expresses a longing for grand narratives in contemporary Western society. The portrayal and mediatization of religious elements in television narratives as well as their discussion in digital fan culture are part of what I would call a transformation process of knowledge and in particular knowledge of religious phenomena. More specifically, digital fan culture allows for an engagement with discursive transformation processes of knowledge and thus influences what is perceived as knowledge in society. Therefore, religious studies needs to pay closer attention to television narratives and the way fans interact with these narratives to create knowledge about religious practices. This article focuses on how the elements of “possession” and “mediumship” are being transformed by the US American TV series Supernatural and its fan culture. I argue that we can see at least two transformation processes here: the transformation and transplantation of religious concepts and practices (in the case of this article the idea of the human body as spirit medium) into a television context, and the transformation of these concepts and practices through digital fan culture. In its discussion of fan culture, the article looks at and analyzes fan based websites and how they present, discuss and imagine the body-medium.

Affiliations: 1: University of Graz

10.1163/21659214-90000044
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Portrayals of mediumship in modern Western television narratives need to be seen as part of a broader phenomenon of the presence of religious elements in Western media, a phenomenon I argue expresses a longing for grand narratives in contemporary Western society. The portrayal and mediatization of religious elements in television narratives as well as their discussion in digital fan culture are part of what I would call a transformation process of knowledge and in particular knowledge of religious phenomena. More specifically, digital fan culture allows for an engagement with discursive transformation processes of knowledge and thus influences what is perceived as knowledge in society. Therefore, religious studies needs to pay closer attention to television narratives and the way fans interact with these narratives to create knowledge about religious practices. This article focuses on how the elements of “possession” and “mediumship” are being transformed by the US American TV series Supernatural and its fan culture. I argue that we can see at least two transformation processes here: the transformation and transplantation of religious concepts and practices (in the case of this article the idea of the human body as spirit medium) into a television context, and the transformation of these concepts and practices through digital fan culture. In its discussion of fan culture, the article looks at and analyzes fan based websites and how they present, discuss and imagine the body-medium.

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/content/journals/10.1163/21659214-90000044
2014-12-06
2018-07-18

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