A furry project
I have a final project for college next semester and I was going to do it as a museum project called "Anthropomorphics through the ages" which would start with Egyptian gods and end with us. An alternative might be writing a book on furries - I found an interesting one called Goth: Identity, Style, and Subcultureby Paul Hodkinson.
While my museum project isn't likely to have too many problems if I write a book on furries exactly where do I go? We aren't all sweetness and light, but I worry anything I write on the more adult aspects of the fandom would be completely taken out of context. Besides Mark Evanier I've only heard second person accounts of what guests thought of going to Anthrocon and of furries in general. I know that we've gotten some good press too, but while I would definitely emphasize the good things furries do, I feel I would be lying if I left out the occasional dramas that arise as well as the mature aspects. Does anyone have any suggestions?
*Edit my proposal is thus:
For my independent project I intend to do the necessary research for a research paper on the subculture known as ‘furry fandom’.
My purpose would be to show how the furry community represents the American ideal of the ‘melting pot’ that is having a diverse, yet unified group that cooperates more or less harmoniously. Just as there is no easy way to define exactly what it means to be an American there is no easy way to define exactly what it means to be a furry. This would directly build on my American Study’s coursework I have done for Dr. Tingley on the topic of showing the American ideal of a ‘melting pot’ through the way that the furry subculture includes members of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic positions. I have always had a deep interest in mythology and folklore which lends itself well to studying the various ways anthropomorphic animals have appeared in different stories and legends around the world.
For the final project I will be researching: What is a furry? What ideas or ideals do furs have in common? How does being a furry tie into ideals of American unity? Is this a ‘real’ community? What are the facts about the community versus how they are sometimes portrayed? How is this group similar to or different from other sub-culture groups?
There is currently little academic research done into the study of the furry subculture group even though the subculture has been around at least since the 1980’s (if not earlier). It is, however, attracting more and more academic interest including a work recently created survey done by Dr. Kathy Gerbasi which studies furry psychology http://drg-kcgerbasi.livejournal.com/. I will not only be incorporating her study but also various web images as well as Disney’s Robin Hood animated film, The Furry Song by community member Kurrel the Raven, the website for Anthrocon, a large meeting of furries that occurs every year, news articles covering Anthrocon as well as other furry events, the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques, as well as a survey I will be creating with the help of my brother Paul Brenner.
Books like Johnathan Silverman’s and Dean Rader’s The World is a Text: Writiing, Reading, and Thinking About Culture and Its Contexts will also be useful for helping to analyze the various different types of texts involved as well as provide legitimacy to the use of images, movies and other non-literature sources. I plan to draw on methods of examining texts of different disciplines in order to better understand the subculture as well as tie in American ideals like freedom and individuality to the subculture.
Well if you choose to write a book about the wonderful culture we're a part of here, I wouldn't leave out the adult aspects or the inescapable drama.
Instead, I'd make brief, clinical mention of it--perhaps mentioning the welcoming aspect of the fandom leading to acceptance of pretty much any strange thing you can think of. As for the drama, do the same--mention a lot of drama does tend to fly around--but (as far as I've ever seen) only on the internet for the most part.
I'd try to guide people more to the positive aspects of us. I'm sure the book you found about the Goth subculture mentions some of the negative connotations people automatically connect with them, as well as trying to debunk them. Perhaps something similar for the furries?
*nods* I was thinking of doing that. The book is actually very helpful in that regard. I need to talk to my professor, though. Nothing happens without approval.
if you need some one to interveiw i would gladly be interveiwed on sertain terms
i think it would be a good to do
i want a copy of it
were can you see lions... only at anthrocon!!!
I may take you up on this. As soon as I get the project approved I'll let you know.
That would be a very interesting book I'm sure! just give us a better story then the MTV special...
I'd love to read it when its out!
Thanks! It's probably going to start life as a research paper and develop from there. I wish I knew how to contact Uncle Kage and some others about this. I don't want to be shunned by other furries.
Send Dr. Conway an email at ceo (at) anthrocon.org. I can't guarantee he'll agree to/with it, but he will almost definitely read it.
Or I can just read about it here.
I can't help being wary of any such project, ever since George Gurley got the whole media ball rolling. For a scholarly publication, though, I might be more open.
Please email me at ceo(at)anthrocon.org with a more detailed description of the project, including where you intend to publish it, anticipated distribution and intended audience.
I sent you as much of the information as I could from my email brenner.mike(at)gmail.com. Publishing of any sort is a long, long way off at this point. I have a lot of worries on this project as well, I want it to be as scholarly as possible but I don't want the fandom to get a black eye from it either. I feel very strongly about doing a project on or about anthropomophics for my final project. It doesn't have to be this paper, it could be a museum project showing anthros from ancient Egypt to modern mascots and cartoons with only a brief mention of the fandom if any.
Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I really want to do this right.
A few thoughts that come to mind would include antecedents of the furry movement.
For example, science fiction and fantasy conventions would seem to be a precursor.
Another thing to consider would be groups that were formed in reaction to or as a protest to societal norms while providing people with a fraternal environment. I would consider the Freemasons and possibly organizations such as the Elks and other groups having an animalistic totem as their emblem.
The Goth and Lolita movement certainly represents groups where a distinction of clothing have identified a group, marking itself to both those belonging to the group and those outside it.
You might also want to consider the Cub Scouts (with ranks of bobcat, wolf, bear, lion, etc.) which certainly involves some anthropomorphism. (The letter column in Boy's Life is answered by Pedro, an anthropomorphic mule.)
You might also want to look at anthropomorphic themes in literature that seemed to start in the 1800's at about the same time as the societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals and Darwin's theory of evolution. Authors to consider would be Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Books), Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Jack London (The Call of the Wild), Walter R. Brooks (Freddy the Pig), Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz: the cowardly lion, the hungry tiger, etc.), and many others.
The ideas of cosplay and fursuits would certainly be a topic all by themselves.
These are just a few spur of the moment thoughts.
Thanks! I will certainly keep all this in mind! I didn't know that the Cub Scouts had a column like that.
I hadn't noticed the connection between anthropomorphic themes and the societies for prevention to animal cruelty but now that you mention it, it's an interesting one - though I'm not sure what I'll do with it.
If you are going to do a research paper on Anthropomorphism in the greater culture, it might not be necessary to even mention Furry Fans except in an incidental way. It is a bit like writing a study of Soccer or football, and then ending up with a description of Sports fans. While Sports and the Sports Fan are related, they are not truly the same thing.
It is amazing how many Furry Fans are ALSO SciFi Fans, or High Fantasy Fans, or Mystery Fans, or Anime Fans; There is a very strong crossover which forms the greater mass of "Fandom", which has general social tendencies and behaviours and traditions and habits and even taboos and superstitions. I was once stunned to hear Rod O'Reilly describe going to his first "Gargoyles: The Gathering" convention at Universal City. "WOW! A Fandom where I don't know everybody!"
If you are more interested in the history and applications of anthropomorphism, Consider contacting a Mr. John Nunnemacher, artist and writer and part-time animator who created and drew the furry comics, "Buffalo Wings" and "Griffin Park". He wrote a college thesis while attending Moravian University on the uses of Anthropomorphic Characters in Literature. I'm sorry that I can't give you the name of the paper, I have not read it myself, but John might make you a copy or give you an abstract or a bibliography. He used to present panels at Furry Cons on the subject.
A Furry in Australia - Tasmania, in fact - named Tim Gadd did a master's thesis on anthropomorphics, drawing on the theme of "The Other". It was a resounding-enough success for him to be accepted into a doctorate program in Literature. Last time I heard - admittedly prior to 9/11 - he was still plugging away at his Doctoral thesis; he may have changed topics in the end, he may be Dr. Gadd now for all I know; but if you can reach him, he might have a bunch of research and citations to direct you to.
If you _do_ wish to write about the history of Furry Fandom, particularly how it sort of branched off from SciFi and Fantasy, there is one source whom you ABSOLUTELY need to consult: A gentleman named Fred Patten.
Mr. Patten was, by profession, a librarian. He is also a SciFi/Mystery/Animation/Anime/Aerospace fan of the first rank, and has spent the bulk of his non-working time studying, collecting, reviewing and promoting Furry Literature, and the Furry Fandom (Incidentally - he may be the person most responsible for introducing and popularizing Anime into North America). Fred is well-respected in all these fields, and until recently incapacitated by a stroke, was a principal reviewer of new Anime and Manga coming into the country, and published a review of Anthro books, comics, movies, and fan 'zines in YARF!,the "Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics", and the best furry literary anthology periodical that this fandom has ever produced. YARF! also published two editions of "An Anthropomorphic Bibliography", compiled by Fred and featuring incidental illustrations by some of the primary artists and illustrators in this genre.
Mr. Patten welcomes questions about the early furry fandom and the forces that influenced it. While currently in a convalescent home in North Hollywood, he does have web access and e-mail, and maintains an active correspondence with fans around the world.
Fred's e-mail address is:
He can also be contacted at:
Please try the earthlink address first.
And while YARF! seems to have sort of gone into Abeyance, the website, http://yarf.furry.com is still up and plugging away. It features an article about the early Furry Fandom, entitled "A Chronology of Furry Fandom" (big surprise, no?), and can be found at: http://yarf.furry.com/chronology.html
Anyway, there is a start. The people Fred mentions in this chronology, he has met or knows well enough to call friends. In fact, the GoHs of both AnthroCon and Further Confusion, for the last few years, that would be Stan Sakai, Scott Shaw!, Mark Evanier, Karen Anderson (wife of the late Poul Anderson), Larry Niven, and Dr. Jerry Pournelle are all close friends of Fred, and I know more than a few asked his advice before considering going to a Furry Con. They initially had faith in Fred, which the staffs of both AnthroCon and Further Confusion more than justified. each of them has come away with a positive impression of Anthropomorphic "Furry" Fandom.
In summary: Look up John Nunnemacher. Look up Tim Gadd. And Write to Fred, 'cause he knows where ALL THE BONES in SciFi and Furry and Anime are buried.
I've already been in contact with Fred, who's been extremely helpful. I promised him a copy of whatever finally comes out of this and I will likely have him review anything I write if he feels up to it. I wasn't aware of either John or Tim and I will certainly try to find and contact them. I've also edited my first post so you can see the direction I currently have in mind.