Instructor Spotlight: Samantha Kelleher

The ExCollege caught up with Samantha Kelleher to talk about her Explorations course, A Deep Dive Into Fandom.
Samantha Kelleher

What inspired you to teach this course?

Samantha Kelleher: I took an ExCollege class (I Need A Hero: A Deep Dive Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe) when I was a freshman, and it was a huge influence on my Tufts career. Since I am an FMS major, I wanted to teach a class about media, but I had a lot of trouble settling on one piece of media. I am such a huge fan of so many different things, and I did not want to have to pick just one. So instead, I decided to teach a class about the overall experience and culture of fandom. The fan communities I have been a part of have had a huge impact on my life, so I wanted to honor them by teaching about fan culture as something worthy of academic discussion, rather than something to be embarrassed by.

What fandoms do you consider yourself a part of?

SK: I become obsessed with pretty much every piece of media that I read or watch, so this is a really hard question to answer! Right now, I am really obsessed with Succession, a dark comedy/drama TV series on HBO. I highly recommend watching it! I also have reentered my Hunger Games era recently, which happens every few years (Team Peeta forever).

How would you guide someone who is interested in exploring the world of fandom?

SK: I would advise them to just explore whatever engages them most. Fandom is a very broad topic, so they should pick whatever is most interesting to them and dive in!

What do you hope students will take away from this class?

SK: I want my students to learn to be proud of being passionate about what they like! We live in what I like to call "cringe culture," where people often find fandom "cringy" or embarrassing. I believe that there is nothing wrong with being passionate about something, even if that thing is a TV show, book, comic, or piece of media that people may find weird. I want my students to embrace their passions and be completely themselves.

What’s something that you are particularly excited to teach?

SK: I am really excited to talk about After, which is a movie based on a book based on a Harry Styles fanfiction. The movie, the book series, and the fanfiction all were huge successes, and remain popular today. In class, we are going to use the movie to discuss how fanworks enter the mainstream, and if commercializing a fanwork is a betrayal of the fan community. I think it will be an interesting conversation and a super fun screening!

Samantha Kelleher (she/her) is a senior majoring in Film & Media Studies and Psychology and minoring in Child Development. Her hometown is New Providence, New Jersey. On campus, she is involved in Tufts Traveling Treasure TRUNK! and Hype Mimez.