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CCA Faculty Member Awarded $40,000 Fellowship to Continue Pop Culture Fandom Research

July 30, 2019 – AURORA, Colo. – Community College of Aurora sociology faculty member Tanya Cook was awarded a $40,000 faculty fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue her research on pop-culture fandom.

Cook is one of 26 scholars recognized this year by the ACLS. 

This is the first year of the ACLS program, which was created to support community college faculty research projects in the areas of humanities and social sciences.

Cook’s research project is titled “Always Keep Nerd Fighting: Fandoms as Social Movements.”

Her project unifies popular-culture studies and sociological theory to provide a better understanding of how and why fans of popular science-fiction shows, books and movies are becoming politically active and increasingly charitable. The goal of Cook’s work is to build an overarching analysis of fandom-based activism and show how fandom can be understood as a force for social good.

“I am honored to receive this fellowship award from Mellon/ACLS and appreciative of the organization's commitment to supporting the scholarship of community college faculty,” Cook said. “This support will enable me to make a contribution to advance research in multiple disciplines, most notably the evolving interdisciplinary field of fan studies. Like community colleges are often at the forefront of innovations in pedagogy, fans are leading the way in employing social media networks and technology to further charity work and activism. I look forward to exploring further how fans are working to support one another and their communities, and their ongoing efforts to create a more just, inclusive, and democratic world.”

As a fellow, Cook will receive $40,000 over 18 months and use the funds to further her research. During the fellowship period, Cook will use the funds to create time for research analysis and writing; travel to various fan events and conventions to conduct field research (including San Diego Comic Con, Geek Girl Con in Seattle and the Harry Potter Alliance's Granger Leadership Academy); and cover transcription costs for interviews.

The program is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair and democratic societies.

“We’re thrilled to announce the recipients of these awards,” said ACLS program officer Rachel Bernard in a press release, “each of whom exemplifies the kind of rich humanistic research, innovative pedagogy, and deep community engagement that is flourishing within humanities programs at two-year colleges across the country. This program serves an unmet need by supporting teacher-scholars at community colleges through flexible stipends that fellows can use to fund their research, teaching, and public programming.”


Alex Schultz

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About the Community College of Aurora (CCA)

The Community College of Aurora (CCA) provides high-quality instruction and student support services to Aurora and Denver, Colorado. The college offers courses on two campuses, online and through its high school concurrent-enrollment program, helping students prepare for employment or transfer to a four-year institution. For more information, visit www.ccaurora.edu.


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