The global success and recognition of BTS, a seven-member South Korean music group, demonstrates that their artistry and message has captured the attention of millions. In addition to providing music and entertainment, BTS inspires their global fandom, ARMY, to engage in a myriad of actions connected to social issues. The combination of how BTS expresses this call to social action, and how the fan community receives and responds to this call, provides a rich case study of fan based activism. While BTS and their fandom are pushing against and connecting across borders that often seem impermeable, this work does not happen with ease. In this presentation, Dr. Epps-Robertson will discuss the complexities of transcultural fan activism that involves both public-facing projects and teaching within the ARMY community about social issues.
Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson is an assistant professor of English and Director of the Writing in the Disciplines Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she holds the Jonathan M. Hess Term Professorship. Her primary research investigates the ways in which communities teach, practice, and understand what it means to be a citizen at both local and global levels. Her first book, Resisting Brown: Race, Rhetoric, and Citizenship in the Heart of Virginia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) examined a literacy program designed to promote citizenship skills created during the American civil rights movement. Currently, she is working on several projects connected to BTS and their fandom ARMY that examine the complexity of transcultural social justice efforts, community and accountability, and global citizenship education.