Claire Parnell (University of Melbourne)
Session 8.2: Muslim and Middle Eastern Romances
Participatory media production through online self – publishing platforms affects the publishing field in interesting and important ways. In particular, the call for diverse representation in genre fiction has been growing in online communities, such as Wattpad, for some time. Narratives that have traditionally been excluded from publication are now able to be self-published through various online retailers and user-generated online platforms. Romance texts published on Wattpad that feature Muslim protagonists and Muslim-centred love stories demonstrate the popularity of these stories. This paper explores their social and political impact.
- Part 1 had more than 2500 comments from 1500 unique users – interactive reading, not passive
- The story flips the Orientalist trope, antagonists are the more westernised characters
- 78 parts in total
- 16m reads
- won a ‘Watty’ award (Wattpad has their own awards)
- Social media reading and writing platform
- 22 million readers, global reach
- Henry Jenkins – Participatory culture
- Allows comments from readers, interaction with authors
The Wattpad Muslim romances don’t have the same framework as the ‘sheik’ novels, which have predominantly white heroines and feature very little in the way of Islamic faith
Authors are able to embed media in the header space. KittyCrackers uses this to embed lectures from prominent Islamic lecturers.
Claire is doing a textual analysis & an analysis of the reader comments for her PhD research.
- Used 10 out of 77 chapters
- Analysed 9576 comments.
- Commenters act as beta readers and collaborators
- Comments are predominantly affirmative
- Limited writing and editing advice provided, fewer than 3% per chapter discuss writing
- Question re sentimental analysis: Claire said it was a judgement call on her part, there was no software suitable to do it as the language used on Wattpad is very ideosyncratic, which made SentiStrength cumbersome to use.