BTS Now Has Its Very Own Academic Journal -- The Rhizomatic Revolution Review (R3)
Not every popular music act gets their own peer-reviewed, open-access journal dedicated to studying their art and influence -- but BTS have managed to inspire the creation of exactly that. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review (R3), an academic journal about BTS and ARMY, is nearing the release of its first issue which is set to drop in September 2020.
Such a project is rather rare in the world of academia -- while academic discourse about popular music acts is by no means a revolutionary concept, the idea of creating an inclusive, inviting space for fans by fans certainly is. Among the millions of creative forces that exist within ARMY, a handful of them -- including Candace, Katie, Kelly, and Maria -- saw the need for such a space and collaborated to establish R3.
Candace, Katie, Kelly, and Maria are four of the nine founders and editorial board members of R3. According to Kelly, the creation of the journal was rather spontaneous:
“R3 was created through a truly unique event that combined synergy with serendipity and strangers on Twitter. The very first ideas were about a place where we could share the articles and papers we would write if we had the time and freedom to write what we wanted to. That was the seed -- R3 is the blossoming tree.”
In true ARMY fashion, the conception of R3 was fan-driven -- it developed out of the collaboration between BTS fans who were simply interested in sharing ideas and literature. Soon enough, these fans found the need for a more structured academic space about BTS.
There are multiple reasons as to why academic discussions about BTS are necessary; the theories that result from BTS’s music videos, the cultural references based on BTS’s lyrics, and the charity events that ARMY creates to integrate fandom culture with activism all generate insightful, multicultural content and interactions. But these rich social media conversations are at risk of going unnoticed if not synthesized and disseminated in a more cohesive way.
R3, therefore, holds an important purpose in both the BTS fandom and in the world of academia as a whole. As Katie states, “there is something quite unique about fandom, and its ability to generate connections and inspire action. Few things are this unifying across global borders. It’s not just about why said subject is unifying, that’s part of it, but the insights could be achieved by introspection and productive discourse among such a diverse group of people.” The name of the journal itself alludes to this, which was derived from the term “rhizome,” a philosophical concept created by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that describes a vast, multi-nodal connection of knowledge -- an idea that is also used by scholar Dr. Lee Jiyoung to describe ARMY in her book BTS Art Revolution: BTS Meets Deleuze.
Although R3 follows the general foundations of academic scholarship, it also challenges the notion that scholarly work must be exclusive and reserved for those directly associated with academic institutions. According to Maria, “R3 is for everyone who is passionate about knowledge and a more in-depth look into the art of BTS. It offers a broad perspective where both academic knowledge-making meets community's memories and creations, giving a broad scope and special insight into the world of BTS. You don't have to have a higher degree to participate in R3 only passion for knowledge and understanding.”
One way R3 tackles the notion of academic exclusivity is by creating 3 “dimensions” for content submission -- Academic Articles, Supplemental Stories, and Creative Collections.
While the Academic Articles reflect the “traditional” approach to scholarly material, Supplemental Stories, and Creative Collections invite new dimensions through which individuals can contribute to the journal. According to R3’s website, “the purpose of including Creative Collections and Supplemental Stories is to establish the first international archive that traces the art, oral histories, stories, and narratives of BTS’s fans over time, borders, and experiences…. Such an archive and story exchange has great value for the public as a cultural, social, historical, and educational record.” According to Katie, this format “[reflects] our belief that the voices and creations of individuals, especially fans, should be placed into conversation with academic work.”
Much like BTS’s work itself, R3 manages to transcend the boundaries of a single category or label that can define its contents. This diversity in content is necessary when studying something as dynamic, cross-cultural, and unconventional as BTS. Candace summarizes this best: “R3 serves as a space for fans, academics, artists, activists, or people who identify with any combination of these roles, to publish. If we desire to have a full account of the impact of BTS, it is imperative that we include each of these perspectives. I believe R3 wants to demonstrate the kind of synergistic knowledge-making that is possible when people from across communities (and positions that are often falsely separated) come together.”
Therefore, R3 is dedicated towards ensuring that it is an inclusive and interdisciplinary location where fans and their creations can be taken seriously. Maria adds, “in my personal opinion, fans can bring a rich insight and vast knowledge into the academic world. When academic integrity and ethical research meet the passion and extensive knowledge of fans, immensely valuable knowledge can be created.”
While R3 is a rather recent creation and is specific to one musical act, Katie is hopeful that the journal will be valuable to future discussions about BTS, fandom culture, and academia:
“R3 thinks about our audience not just in terms of current readers, but also future audiences - in particular, the scholars and historians that will one day be looking for reliable archives that trace the real-time experience of the fandom.”
Submission to R3 is free of cost and open to all. Furthermore, the journal is experimenting with interesting platforms that can facilitate ARMY discourse, including Consider It. These innovative methods hope to provide fans with a new, holistic approach to conversing with each other.
As a whole, R3 is committed to taking work about BTS seriously -- this very mission is what inspired Borasaek Vision to submit their own piece to R3: “Walking the Borasaek Road with BTS,” written by Miranda, Anna, Ram, Euni, and Shelley. We hope to appear in the September issue and join the “revolution” to further the understanding of BTS and ARMY.
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Written By: Alapadma
Edit By: Ash
Checked By: Aury