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“Write the story you want to read”: world-queering through slash fanfiction creation

Diana Floegel (School of Communication and Information, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 6 April 2020

Issue publication date: 4 June 2020

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1825

Abstract

Purpose

This pilot study explores how queer slash fanfiction writers reorient cis/heteronormative entertainment media (EM) content to create queer information worlds.

Design/methodology/approach

Constructivist grounded theory was employed to explore queer individuals' slash fanfiction reading and creation practices. Slash fanfiction refers to fan-written texts that recast cis/heteronormative content with queer characters, relationships, and themes. Theoretical sampling drove ten semi-structured interviews with queer slash writers and content analysis of both Captain America slash and material features found on two online fanfiction platforms, Archive of Our Own and fanfiction.net. “Queer” serves as a theoretical lens through which to explore non-cis/heteronormative perspectives on gender and sexuality.

Findings

Participants' interactions with and creation of slash fanfiction constitute world-queering practices wherein individuals reorient cis/heteronormative content, design systems, and form community while developing their identities over time. Findings suggest ways that queer creators respond to, challenge, and reorient cis/heteronormative narratives perpetuated by EM and other information sources, as well as ways their practices are constrained by structural power dynamics.

Research limitations/implications

This initial data collection only begins to explore the topic with ten interviews. The participant sample lacks racial diversity while the content sample focuses on one fandom. However, results suggest future directions for theoretical sampling that will continue to advance constructs developed from the data.

Originality/value

This research contributes to evolving perspectives on information creation and queer individuals' information practices. In particular, findings expand theoretical frameworks related to small worlds and ways in which members of marginalized populations grapple with exclusionary normativity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank their participants Dr. Marie L. Radford, and Dr. Kaitlin L. Costello for peer-debriefing and edits.

Citation

Floegel, D. (2020), "“Write the story you want to read”: world-queering through slash fanfiction creation", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 76 No. 4, pp. 785-805. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-11-2019-0217

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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