Thrusts in the Dark: Slashers' Queer Practices (Essay) By Extrapolation

Thrusts in the Dark: Slashers' Queer Practices (Essay)

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2009-09-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

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Thrusts in the Dark: Slashers' Queer Practices This essay argues for considering queerness in opposition to normativity rather than homosexuality in opposition to heterosexuality in order to construct analyses of complex gender practices in the reading and writing of fan fictions. As a queer woman working within the perceived dominant masculine (white, middle-class, heterosexual masculinity) culture of the academy, I note that prescriptive binary notions of gender and sexual identity have been imposed on reading and writing practices. While some fan fiction conforms to these binary notions, fan fiction that does not exists although it has received less attention from scholars. In this project I discuss two popular fan fictions in the Lord of the Rings online fandom. These texts raise the possibility that some women reading and writing in fandom fit neither the culturally homogenous feminine (white, middle-class, heterosexual) category described by earlier scholars nor some stereotypical masculine opposite. Rather than set up a competing or reversed hierarchy by claiming that slashers fit some stereotypical queer cultural position, I hope to emphasize the existence of queer practices in some fans' reading and writing communities. After discussing the two stories, I analyze the extent to which the earliest fan scholars relied upon language drawn from second-wave feminism which constructed separate masculine and feminine cultures. Second-generation queer theory, especially the concept of separating gender from the body, can now be used to analyze a category of fan fiction which has not been considered. Fan fiction is often assumed to be homogeneous, a genre that incorporates romantic tropes/conventions and emphasizes egalitarian relationships rather than erotic/pornographic tropes. (1) While this paper is limited in scope, I hope it will show the necessity for further scholarship on fan fiction that questions the complex relationships between reading and writing practices, language, gender construction, and gender performance.