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DMU students mingle with Hollywood fans

Students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) immersed themselves in media fan cultures during a recent #DMUglobal trip to Hollywood.

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The 10-day trip included a visit to WonderCon, an internationally renowned fan convention, where thousands of fans of popular franchises like Star Wars, DC Comics, Game of Thrones and anime, gather to celebrate their favourite productions.

During the three-day event, the final year students on the Audiences and Fandom module interviewed cosplayers, attended Q&A panels by industry experts and experienced the full scale of the fan cultures merchandise machine.

Led by Dr Matt Jones, who was recently awarded a prestigious research grant from the British Academy recognising the potential of early career researchers, the trip was also coupled with visits to other fan ‘pilgrimage’ sites.

These included the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, the iconic Hollywood sign, Paramount Pictures and the Hollywood Forever cemetery, where DMU students once again observed and interviewed fans.

Dr Jones said: “Teaching fan cultures is one thing, but you can’t really understand it until you experience it.

“By observing and interviewing fans, undertaking ethnographic studies and immersing themselves in the culture, our students are now better equipped to develop their thinking about how media cultures are consumed, experienced, lived and celebrated around the world.”

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Lucy Madaras, James Hickling and William Wood at WonderCon

English Language and Media student, Lucy Madaras came back from the trip with great memories and highlights including the “stunning views from the Griffith Observatory” and the “intimate insight into fans” during the WonderCon Masquerade Ball.

The 22-year-old said: “WonderCon has definitely helped my understanding of fan cultures, which is really important considering my dissertation is looking at fan experiences. The great thing is that I've also been able to take my experience at the convention into interviews with fans.”

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Media and Communication and Film Studies student, William Wood, is mostly interested in the development of television and film from behind the camera.

The 21-year-old said: “Personally, I found the Q&A panels at WonderCon interesting in discovering what the cast and creators had to say about what they created and why they created it in such a way”.

For William the trip was “also a real eye opener and life lesson”. He said: “It's not until you physically go and experience it for yourself that you understand Los Angeles away from the money and fame facade we generally see it through.

“As far as the #DMUglobal experience goes, I would encourage anyone to go on a trip. It’s a truly fantastic experience!”

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Enjoying the view from the Griffith Observatory

Posted on Tuesday 3rd May 2016

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