Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Femslash Fanfiction as a Reparative Practice of Critique

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  • Ever since Henry Jenkins’ groundbreaking _Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture_ (1992), fan studies has slowly worked its way further into mainstream academia. However, particular practices and cultures of femslash fandom, and the contribution of queer women to fandom archives and circulation have, in many ways, been neglected. In addition, most fan studies research focuses on trends in fanfiction writing rather than on the ways in which fandom itself has become a reflection of larger systems of oppression. This paper argues that fanfiction, and specifically coalitiongirl’s story Send Up a Signal (that everything’s fine), can be used to critique systems of oppression as reflected within fandom, mass media, and society. However, Send Up a Signal does not only employ the negative affective mode of paranoid critique. It also simultaneously employs more positive affects in what Eve Kosofsky Sedwick might consider a reparative practice. As a metafiction, Send Up a Signal transforms both the narrative within the ABC show _Once Upon a Time_ and the narrative of _Once Upon a Time_’s production in order to provide community healing and catharsis within the femslash fandom. In analyzing this fanfiction, I show the ways in which violence and trauma experienced by marginalized fans impact the fanworks they create and how these works, in turn, provide new tools for marginalized communities who interact with and are negatively impacted by mass media.
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