1 POTTEROTICS: HARRY POTTER FANFICTION ON THE INTERNET By CATHERINE TOSENBERGER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007
2 2007 Catherine Tosenberger
3 To my grandparents Edward and June Har d, and Michael and Ka therine Tosenberger
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I must thank the Harry Po tter fandom, and all the fans who gave so generously of their talent and expertise. I have met an enormous number of brilliant, funny, creative and wise people through my interactions with this co mmunity. The following, in no particular order, have been especially kind and helpful, and I am honored to call them friends: Amy Tenbrink, Hallie Tibbetts, Kathryn L oup, Heidi Tandy, Sarah Benoot, Anna Milton, Cassandra Claire, Pogrebin, Marvolo, Ravenchel, Katiebec, Rhoddlet, Fleur, Mireille, Kayla Gagnet Castille, Sabrina Chin, Jane Glaubma n, Aja Romano, Carlie Webber, Anatsuno, Rennie Guedel, Ebony Thomas, V, Folk, Kay Taylor, Ka tie B, Vicki Dolenga, Ellen Fremedon, Anne Kustritz, Rene, Amatia, Sharon Goetz, Executr ix, Resmiranda, Kristi Brownfield, Glockgal, Flourish, Darkrose, Calico, Metempsychosis, Cath exys, Cyg, Vali, Lolaraincoat, Chris Dickson, and Meg Milford. There are others whose names have escaped me, and I hope they wont hold it against me. I thank the mods and denizens of Fandom Wank, for continually reminding me that fandom is, indeed, fucking funny. This project would never have begun, and woul d certainly not have finished, without the intellectual and emotional support of my director, Kenneth Kidd, th e kindest and best of men. He has been a mentor and a dear friend. Much thanks are also due to my fantastic committee, who are everything a nervous grad student coul d hope for: John Cech, Robert Thomson, Terry Harpold, and Linda Lamme. Their advice has been superb, and their tolera nce for the narration of bizarre Internet phenomena has been exemplary. Excellent sports, all of them. I also thank the Department of English at the University of Florida for thei r unflagging support; the University Writing Program, and Creed Greer in particular, also deserves thanks. Others deserve thanks and praise: Andrea Wood, Joanna Shearer, Roger Whitson, Mike Mayne, Todd Reynolds, Melissa Mellon, Anastasia Ul anowicz, Henry Jenkins, Regina Martin,
5 Martin Smith, June Cummins, Richard Flynn, Jose ph Thomas, Kevin Shortsleeve, Marlo Zaber, Brian Doan, Denise Guidry, Pamela Gilbert, Ca therine Driscoll, Aaron Talbot, Joel Adams, Cathlena Martin, Tof Eklund, Nikki Smith, Do ris Bremm, Leann D. Hunter, Steve Ponton, Bharati Khasibhatla, Jaimy Mann, Phil Sandifer, Lyndsay Brown, Brad Anderson, and the staff and members of The Cauldron. Of course, I thank my family, especially my parents, Cindi and Mike Tosenberger; and my sister Lisa Gonidakis, an d her family, Chris, Alaina and Maya. I would also like to thank my grandparents, to whom this is dedicated. And most of all, I thank Tim Smith, my husband, for everything in the world.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS..........................................................................................................8 LIST OF TERMS.................................................................................................................. ...........9 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCING THE MONSTERS AND THE CRITICS: RECURSIVE FICTION, FANDOM STUDIES, AND HARRY POTTER....................................................................11 The Madness of Crowds: The Pathological Fan....................................................................12 Academics and Fans: A Brief Overview...............................................................................15 Fanfiction and Literature...................................................................................................... ..24 Potter Publishing: Official History.....................................................................................36 Portrait of the Artis t as a Young Fan......................................................................................41 Methodology.................................................................................................................... .......52 2 SEXUAL PERVERSITY AT HOGWARTS.........................................................................59 Wont Someone Think of the Children?.................................................................................66 Shipping, or, H.M.S. What the Hell?......................................................................................72 Responding to Romance.........................................................................................................75 The Internet is for (Fandom) Porn..........................................................................................78 3 MUCKING ABOUT WITH MALFOY: THE TRANSFORMATION OF DRACO...........86 Autoethnography: or, Virtue Has Nothing to Do With It......................................................86 Changing the Leopards Spots................................................................................................92 What Is This Fanon Draco, And Fr om Where Did He Beam Down?....................................94 Rehabilitation and Redemptionistas.....................................................................................101 Poor, Abused Draco, or: Lucius, Instrument of Redemption..............................................103 Fons et Origo: Cassandra Claires Draco Trilogy...............................................................104 Refinement: Mayas Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Rat?................................108 Harry/Draco: Shipping Angst..............................................................................................110 4 SUBTEXT IN HIDING: POTTER SLASH FANFICTION...............................................113 Scholars and Fans.............................................................................................................. ...115 Harry Potter Slash: The Beast in the Plumbing...................................................................122 Queering the Canon............................................................................................................. .126
7 5 KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: INCE ST NARRATIVES IN HARRY POTTER FAN FICTION........................................................................................................................ .......133 Why the Weasleys and the Malfoys?....................................................................................136 Unstable Bodies in the Chamber of Secrets.........................................................................141 Incest Narratives in Po tterverse Fanfiction: Literary Models..............................................148 Malfoycest: Patriarchal Rights............................................................................................151 Weasleycest: Unnatu ral Little Beasts..................................................................................154 EPILOGUE: POTTERDMMERUNG OR, TH E WANKALYPSE IS NIGH: THE FUTURE OF HARRY POTTER FANDOM.......................................................................163 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................167 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................179
8 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS Abbreviation Website FF.N Fanfiction.net FA Fiction Alley JF Journalfen LJ Livejournal RS Restricted Section SK Skyehawke AS Authors Personal Site
9 LIST OF TERMS Canon The official source text: the book se ries, the television series, the film Fanon An interpretation or characterization th at gains widespread currency within the fandom Fic Short for fanfiction or fanfic Het, het fic Fanfiction featuring a heterosexual romance Fanfiction Literature about pre-existing charac ters (from a book, television series, film, etc.) that circulates unofficially Gen, gen fic Fanfiction with no romantic pairing Hurt-comfort Genre of fanfiction where one char acter suffers and another character cares for him/her; also abbreviated h/c Joss, jossed When fanfiction is negated by ne w canon; i.e., a story a bout two characters who marry and live to 100 is jossed if one character is killed in the next episode PWP Plot? What Plot? or Porn Without Pl ot: a story consisting entirely of a sex scene Ship A romantic pairing (or threesome) of tw o or more characters that has attracted a fan following Shipper A fan who prefers a partic ular ship (romantic pairing) Slash Fanfiction featuring a same-sex romance Squick A feeling of revulsion TPTB The Powers That Be; the copyr ight holders of the source text
10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy POTTEROTICS: HARRY POTTER FANFICTION ON THE INTERNET By Catherine Tosenberger August 2007 Chair: Kenneth Kidd Major: English A number of the most devoted readers of J. K. Rowlings immensely popular Harry Potter series have not been content to wait for the ne xt book, but have gone online in droves to swap gossip and speculation, engage in literary critic ism of the series, and, especially, create new stories (fanfiction) featuring fa vorite characters. Harry Potter fan stories now number in the hundreds of thousands, and are produced and cons umed by fans around the world, ranging in age from schoolchildren to adults. Fa nfiction is inextricable from its ethnographic context, and it is also a literary production. My project, while partaki ng of ethnography, also focuses attention upon fanfiction as art in its own right and, more over, as an art whose forms and functions are inseparable from its means of dist ribution: the Internet. I have located fanfiction within existing discourses of intertextuality, including folk re tellings, and have discussed literary genres especially relevant to Potter fanfiction, including sc hool stories, the Gothic, fantasy, romance, and pornography. A particular area of interest is the manner in which Potter fans interrogate literary and cultural discourses of adolescent sexuality through their stories. In addition, I have analyzed a number of specific fan stories in dept h from a literary-critical perspective. Another key feature of my project is ex tensive reporting of fans interpre tations of their own material. Underpinning all of these analys es is a consideration of the na ture of online communication, and of the production of text in electronic environment.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCING THE MONSTERS AND TH E CRITICS: RECURSIVE FICTION, FANDOM STUDIES, AND HARRY POTTER J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is a worl dwide publishing phenomenon. As the release date of the seventh and final book in the series dr aws near, excited readers prepare to let out the collective breath they've been holding since th e series began. However, many of the most devoted aficionados of the series have not been content merely to wait for the next book; they have gone online in droves to swap gossip and speculation, draw pictures and, most especially, create new Harry Potter stories. At the time of writing th ere are over 280,000 individual Harry Potter stories written by fans in existence, concerning the con tinuing adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, and othe r favorite characters. While the production of these narratives, vari ously termed fanfiction, fanfics, or simply fics,1 is not a new phenomenon, what is unique is the immense depth and breadth of the Potter fandom's literary activ ity, inextricably intertwined w ith the technology of the World Wide Web that fostered and dist ributed the activities of the fando m. The high speed nature of Internet communication, as well as the compar atively long wait between books, has engendered a body of fan literature that covers every imaginab le permutation of genre and romantic pairing, with semi-literate net-speak atrocities tumble d into fic archives next to sophisticated examinations of intertextuality. In addition, Potter fanfiction has made considerable inroads into traditionally taboo areas of discourse, particularly in cest, and created thoughtful and intelligent explorations of difficult topics, through the medium of what may be called recursive literature. Potter fanfiction constitu tes, I will argue, a thriving and legitimate 1 I have elected to spell fanfiction as one word, as this is by far the most common usage within fandom. In general if a there exists both a fannish term and a general or academic term for a concept, I have given preference to fandom terminology.
12 literary genre that is ripe for scholarly examinati on, particularly at this time of anticipation and anxiety about the imminent end of the book series. The Madness of Crowds: The Pathological Fan In order to understand what is meant by fan fiction or the commun ity that produces it, fandom, one must first articulate what is mean t by fan. In popular di scourse, the term fan carries with it a whole host of pejorative assumptions. Fan derives from fanatic, which itself derives from the Latin fanaticus; the term was probably first used in the late 19th century, usually non-pejoratively, for followers of spectator sports, and was later applied to women who attended plays and films primar ily to see particular actors (Jenkins Poachers 12). Further, as Jenkins points out, [i]f the term fan was originally evoked in a somewhat playful fashion it never fully escaped its earlier connotations of religious and polit ical zealotry, false beliefs, orgiastic excess, possession, and madness, connotations that seem to be at the heart of many of the representations of fans in contemporary discou rse. (Poachers 12) This is the popular representation of the fan: screaming, crying girl s at concerts for the Elvis, the Beatles, and sundry boybands; rock groupies, willing to sleep with anyone for a chance at the band; no-life losers camping out in their parents basements far beyond adolescence; bored housewives; murderous obsessi ves both real (Mark Da vid Chapman, Robert John Bardo) and fictional (the films The Fan [1981 and 1996], Misery , and Play Misty for Me ). From an academic standpoint, fans are, at the very least, uncritical dupes of Adornos culture industry: mindless, histri onic sheep who literally buy into the cultural paradigms used to control them the ultimate bad consumers. It is therefore something of an understatement when Joli Jensen notes that the literature on fandom is haunted by images of deviance (9).
13 One crucial point of this d eviance is what is often seen as the fans fixations upon cultural objects deemed unwort hy of such attention: Fandom is typically associated with cultura l forms that the dominant value system denigrates -pop music, romance novels, co mics, Hollywood mass-appeal stars (sport, probably because of its appeal to masc ulinity, is an excep tion). (Fiske 30) According to Fiske, texts seized upon by fans are insufficient texts that are inadequate to their cultural function of circulating meanings and pl easure until they are wo rked upon and activated by their fans, who by such activity produce their ow n cultural capital (42). By designating texts that accrue fandoms as being, of necessity, ins ufficient, Fiske drives a wedge between fandom and other affinity groups, ones that form around texts with a higher accumulation of Bourdieus cultural capital li ke, for example, literature studied by academics such as Austen and Shakespeare. While Fiske correctly attributes a great deal of the pathologizing of fans as deriving from sexist, racist, clas sist and ageist assump tions about certain types of texts and the people who respond to them, he is, in my view, too attached to fandoms as being fixated on unworthy objects in the cultural-cap ital sense and fans are by de finition excluded from official cultural capital and its convert ibility, via education and car eer opportunity, into economic capital (42). I believe his insisten ce that texts which acquire fandoms are necessarily inadequate not only serves to re nder fannish activity surrounding h ighbrow texts invisible, but also downplays the pleasures to be had from that complete inability to tr anslate fan products into material gain fans are not, for example, obligat ed to adhere to a publishers standards of what will sell. Jensen, on the other hand, is less sure that such a distinction is useful; she argues, persuasively, that academics, and others with cu ltural capital, have self-s ervingly separated their own activities from those of fans:
14 But what happens if we change the objects of this [pathological] description from fans to, say, professors? What if we describe the loyalties that scholars feel to academic disciplines rather than to team sports, and at tendance at scholarly c onferences, rather than Who concerts and soccer matches? What if we describe opera buffs and operas?... Do the assumptions about inadequacy, deviance, and da nger still apply? Fandom, it seems, is not readily conceptualized as a general or shared tr ait, as a form of loyalty or attachment, as a mode of enacted affinity. Fandom, instead, is what they do; w e, on the other hand, have tastes and preferences, and select wo rthy people, beliefs, and activities for our admiration and esteem. Furthermore, what t hey do is deviant, and therefore dangerous, and what we do is normal, and therefore safe. (19) Or, as Bourdieu puts it, the most intolerabl e thing for those who regard themselves as possessors of legitimate culture is the sacrilegious reuniting of tastes which taste dictates shall be separated (56-7). This dis tinction between us and them has not only to do with the perceived distinctions between th e objects of devotion, but with the mode in which this devotion is enacted: good affiniti es are expressed in a subdued, undisruptive manner, while bad affinities (fandom) are expressed in dramatic an d disruptive ways (Jensen 21). Jensens selfproclaimed aficionados respond with bourgeois rationality to worthy objects academics write scholarly papers about grea t works of literature, opera bu ffs appreciate opera. Fans, on the other hand, get rowdy: they waste time interpreting useless texts, they squeal, they cry, they write fanfiction. They dont respect bourgeoi s notions of rational disengagement or the primacy of the original author an d text. Jensen doesnt take th e final step and point out that a great deal of literary and artist ic response and innovation relies on precisely the same sorts of rowdiness towards texts, highbrow or otherw ise, but her argument certainly lays the groundwork for it. The constellation of pejorative concepts of fandom as laid out by Fiske and Jensen can be collectively entitled the lack th eory of fandom: fans lack maturity, decency, good taste, sanity. However, it isnt simply hostile critic s who contribute to the lack theory; I argue that many academic writers, including Fiske, who pres ent positive readings of fandom and critique
15 the pathological views also play a part in c onstructing fans as lacki ng: fan objects lack legitimacy as art, fans lack appropriate distance from those objects, fans lack critical insight into their own activities (insight which can only be provided by academics). Academics and Fans: A Brief Overview Since the late 1980s-early 1990s, there have be en a number of academic studies of fandom and fans concerned less with the way fans are perceived by outsiders than with the communities and activities of fans themselves. Therefore, a concept of fan other than crazy deviant obsessive needed to be formulated. To that en d, various taxonomies and definitions of fans and fandom have been proposed (Tulloch and Jenkins, Brooker and Brooker, Abercrombie and Longhurst, Hills), with the majority distinguis hing between casual followers (in Tulloch and Jenkins term) and fans, who are far more engage d with both the source material and the social scene surrounding that source material the fandom. The exception is Abercrombie and Longhurst (somewhat echoed by Sandvoss), who propos e an odd differentiation between fans, cultists and enthusiasts, with fans listed as be ing the least participator y of the bunch; as Hills dryly notes, It seems faintly unhelp ful to produce a taxonomy in which the definition of fan is at odds with the use of this term in almost all other literature in the field (ix). In almost all the other literature, the term fan refers to a person who is invested in a particular cultural object a ba nd, a sports team, a television show, a movie, a book to the point where their admiration of that object becomes a crucial pa rt of social identity; this investment leads fans to act not simply as consumers of these objects, but as producers creating new works (fiction, songvids, filks) centering upon said objects th ese fans can also be referred to as participatory fans, and, in practice, th e majority of the academic literature has focused upon this group. The social community in which th is production takes place is fandom, which can refer to the fannish community as a whole or, when marked as such, to the community
16 centered around a specific object ( X-Files fandom), or even to a subgoup within a particular fandom (Draco fandom). Unless otherwise spec ified, throughout this study, by fans I mean these participatory fans, and especia lly those fans whose fandom centers around a narrative text, such as a book, film, or tele vision show; these fandoms are, unsurprisingly, the most likely to produce fanfiction.2 There were several notable academic studies of fandom, in the broad sense, done prior to the watershed moment in the ea rly 1990s, including a number of studies of popular television (Ang, Allen, Marc, Kapl an), Janice Radways Reading the Romance (1984), Joanna Russ, Patricia Frazer Lamb and Diane L. Veiths articles on Star Trek slash (homoerotic fanfiction) zines (1985 and 1986), as well as great deal of work on subcultures in general (Hebdige). However, the early 1990s produced several works th at were to prove vastly important for the future development of the field. In 1991, C onstance Penleys groundbrea king article Brownian Motion: Women, Tactics and Technology,3 which celebrated slash as a radical act involving hit-and-run acts of cultural seizure, enacted by women in order to claim a share in a discourse that excludes them (Brownian 139). 1992 saw the debut of both Henry Jenkinss Textual Poachers and Camille Bacon-Smiths Enterprising Women two in-depth ethnographic studies of television fandoms, both with a primary, though not exclusive, focus upon Star Trek. Henry Jenkins, a student of Fiske, certainly did not found the field of fandom studies, but he is probably the most influe ntial figure in the field. In Textual Poachers Jenkins argues, first and foremost, that speaking as a fan is a de fensible position within the debates surrounding 2 So-called Real Person fandoms, which produce RPF (Real Person Fic), are an interesting exception to this general rule; such stories are not simply individual self-i nsert fantasies (like those collected in Shar Rednours book Starf*cker ), but can also center around know n groups of celebrity associates, su ch as members of a band (NSync), actors in a television series ( Supernatural ) or a film or film series ( Lord of the Rings ). See Busse, My Life is a WIP on my LJ for more information. 3 Penley, along with Russ, Lamb and Veith, will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.
17 mass culture (23) a position ta ken up by later fan scholars, or aca-fans -and that fannish readings of media texts are both worthwhile in and of themselves and useful to academic critics of those media texts, which has proved a bit less popular. He provided fandom studies with a strong theoretical base, drawing on Bourdieus concepts of cultu ral capital to articulate the pathologized image of fans (as echoed by Fiske, above). But Jenkins did not limit himself to merely explaining why everyone thinks fans ar e freaks, but produced a workable descriptive theory of the process of fannish activity, drawing upon Mich el de Certeaus concept of popular readers as poachers, as elucidated in The Practice of Everyday Life : Far from being writers readers are travel ers; they move across lands belonging to someone else, like nomads poaching their way ac ross fields they did not write, despoiling the wealth of Egypt to en joy it themselves. (174) In Jenkinss application of de Certeaus theories to fandom sc holarship, he ar gues that [d]e Certeau gives us terms for discussing ways th at the subordinate clas ses elude or escape institutional control, for anal yzing locations where popular mean ings are produced outside of official intepretive practice ( Poachers 26). Fans are not simply dupes, but are, in fact, savvy, subversive readers operating outside of the cultural industrys para digms especially since they are not simply readers. Jenki ns emphasizes fans as active producers of new cultural material: fans poach their favored texts in order to create a variety of new creative works, especially in the form of fanfiction. Jenkins, in all his subsequent work, has continued his fierce defense of the legitimacy of fannish practices as both interpretation of the sour ce material and art in its own right; he is the scholar whose work has most influenced my ow n, and he will be encountered frequently throughout these pages. Of par ticular interest to me is N ormal Female Interest in Men Bonking (1993), a study of slash fanfiction co -written with Shoshanna Green and Cynthia
18 Jenkins; it is, in my view, one of the best articles ever written on the subject of fandom, not only for its thorough critique of academic positions on slash fiction, but on fandom in general: academic writers often deny their personal stakes in the objects under study, their rarified language does not engage closely with the pa rticularity of popular culture and therefore lacks the rigor of most fan criticism, a fa lse distance may be highly distortive to our understanding of the complexity of popular culture. (13) Further, [w]e urge a reconsideration of the concept of popular expertise, a r ecognition and respect for the sites of amateur cultural production that accords them the same privileges to speak as are accorded to other sphe res of the art world. (14) The rest of the article is taken up with extens ive quotations from fans discussing slash in two major media zines, Strange Bedfellows and the Terra Nostra Underground This methodology was a very visble means of the authors refusal to hog all interpretive authority for themselves, but to instead create a space wherein fans could be treated as valuable contributors to the discourse. This article has had immeasurable in fluence upon my project. Of a very different stripe is Camille Bacon-Smiths Enterprising Women Bacon-Smith trained as an ethnographer in the folklore progra m at the University of Pennsylvania, and she never lets the reader forget it Unlike Jenkins, Bacon-Smith is concerned with maintaining an appropriate academic distance from fans, mark ing herself in transcripted dialogue as Ethnographer. Matt Hills irresistibly describes Bacon-Smiths self-prese ntation as that of a great detective unraveling a mystery (Hills 68-9): she is the only suitable interpreter and indeed, arbiter, of reality, who can cut through the stonewalling, prevarica tion, and self-delusion of fans to present the true story of the fannish community ( Enterprising 283). She seems to envision herself as Sherlock Holmes, but the effect is, unintentionally, more akin to Edward Woodwards Sergeant Howie in The Wicker Man (1973). While Bacon-Smith reads fandom as a site for feminist resistance to patriarchal and heterono rmative ideology, she finds herself repeatedly
19 frustrated when fans dont always concur with her analyses. This is not to say that Bacon-Smith has nothing useful to cont ribute; she has a keen eye for social structures and interactions within fandom, and her focus upon the day-to-day proce sses of particular fandoms is exemplary. However, her insistence upon overt academic dist ance from her informants in the text is counterproductive, making her appear condescendi ng instead of analytical Given this, BaconSmith is the scholar most often negatively received by fans, partic ularly slash fans (see Chapter 4). The work of Matt Hills is, in its own way, as maddening as Bacon-Smiths. Fan Cultures (2000) is a sound critique of academic att itudes toward fandom, both condescending and romanticizing; he correctly cautions against m oral dualisms that pit academics against fans, with one marked good and the other bad. However, even given his focus upon academic understandings of fandom, Hills undercuts his own warnings against dualism by keeping fan presence within his work to the barest minimum: there is not a single quotation from a fan in the entire book until the conclusion, and even ther e, the fan voices are but six, and drowned out by the chatter of the academics around them. The ove rall impression is that fandom studies is a rather clubby affair consisting primarily of academics talking to one another, with fans input limited to examples of this or that behavior, included only to be explained by the academic. Jenkins criticized Hills work fo r rendering fans invisible (Inte rview 29), but its even more accurate to say that fans are, in fact, present, but as a silent, monolithic Other against which academic readers are constructed; Hills is willin g to devote a great deal of time exploring the contradictions and complexities of this academic discourse, but is reticent when it comes to representing fans as potentially as contradictory and complex.
20 Hills, echoed by Cornel Sandvoss, also calls for a general theory of media fandom, claiming that too many previous works have focused on si ngle TV series, singular fan cultures, or singular media. the focus on singular fan cultur es also presents the danger that fans readings will be cut off from from the wide r consumptions that surround, and may help to make some sense of, their fan activities. (Hills 1-2) I believe there are a number of pr oblems with this program. The first is, I admit, something of a knee-jerk preference for the particular over the ge neral: while I certainly see the value of a general theory that can tie fanni sh activities into these issues of wider consumption, my own scholarly interests tend toward the micro rather th an the macro. This is not to say that I think such a theory should not be attempted, but, as it sta nds, I feel that such a theory will be far more useful if it is able to benefit from a wider range of those si ngular studies that Hills (and Sandvoss) dislike. This impression of too much singularity is perhaps attr ibutable to the fact that Hills and Sandvoss are both in the field of me dia studies, from whence the vast majority of those singular works originate, usually concerning television series, especially Star Trek While Hills and Sandvoss are right to push fo r a consideration of fandom beyond television shows, both tend to articulate their theories of fannishness strictly from a media studies/popular culture studies model, particularly with regards to which affinity groups they are willing to consider fans. Like Fiske, both Hills and Sandvoss see fandom as being inherently tied to texts with low cultural capital: television shows, sports, popul ar music, genre fiction. While, to a certain extent, understandable, given their disciplina ry location, this simply reiterates Jensens fan/aficianado dichotomy by cutting off consider ation of activities that could be considered fannish that center around works of high cultural capital, such as the literature of Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
21 Moreover, and forgive me if this sounds like grumbling, its easy to demand that fandom studies move away from particularity when your pet fandoms (Hills: Dr. Who and the horror genre; Sandvoss: sports and alternative music) have been studied quite extensively. Fandoms that partake of, but are not iden tical with, this media studies/popul ar culture tradition such as Harry Potter -are apt to be subs umed under a theory that was cons tructed in ignorance of their internal functioning, which can seriously undermine the theorys relevance and usefulness. Another objection to Hillss and Sandvosss desire for a general theory is that this theory will necessarily relegate all specifi c fannish activities as secondary to the fact of fandom itself. Almost every study of fandom, general or part icular, has approached the subject from a sociological and/or et hnographic standpoint, which is intere sted in the creative products of fandom primarily for what they have to say about fandom (or society) as a whole, rather than as legitimate artistic productions in thei r own right. Slash is the form of fannish creativity that has received the most attention, but, as will be detailed in Chapter 4, the bulk of the scholarship is preoccupied with the supposed peculiarity of heterosexual women writing erotica about gay men, rather than serious artistic consideration of the genre. Ev en Jenkins, who argues that fans should be treated as artists, is more interested in the context in which this art is produced than in the aesthetic qualities of the art itself. Not that Jenkins is wrong in this: fans creative output is shaped by the specific culture of the fandom in which they operate, and to fully appreciate the art, you have to understand the fandom. But some how, very few ever seem to get around to considering the art as art. There are definite inroads bei ng made for an aesthetic consideration of fan works, as will be discussed below, but so fa r, the sociological still dominates. My final, and, indeed, my primary concern ab out the calls for a general fandom theory is the effect a sole focus upon general theory will have on fan participation within fandom studies.
22 Hills and Sandvoss both give the app earance of treating fans as if they were irrelevant to the discourse of fandom; it is unsurprising that both advocate the use of psychoanalysis that most authoritarian of approach es -to explain fans to academics, and only to academics. A focus upon creating this general theory pl aces the power to interpret fa ndom squarely in the hands of those with access to the language and literature of media studies in other words, mostly academics while simultaneously diminishing th e relevance of much fan expertise, which shines especially in the realm of the particular. (Even more problematic is that academics general theories are often also ro oted in the particulars of a specific fandom or discipline, which is then mistakenly treated as paradigmatic fo r fandom as a whole; for example, many academic theories of slash are really theories of Star Trek slash.) A call to the genera l is, in effect if not in intent, a gatekeeping move that will rarify the discourse out of the reach of all but those fans who happen to possess graduate degrees in cultural theory. I wish to stress that, despite my misgivings, I do not think that this general theory is an avenue that should not be explor ed I am not anti-theory (what is usually meant by theory), and indeed, I believe that further study of specifi c fandoms will enable a much stronger general theory. I am a pluralist at hear t, and fandom is such an enormous field that there is certainly room for multiple avenues of inquiry. Howeve r, I would think it a serious shame if the dominant mode of fandom studies became that of creating this general theory. Henry Jenkins has been calling for greater active participation by fans in fandom studies fo r years, but that isnt going to happen if academics retreat behind ever -more jargon-heavy analyses which completely sideline fans. Happily, there are a number of fandom scholar s who are exploring avenues other than general theory, especially in the realm of bri nging previously neglected approaches to bear on
23 fandom studies. Sheenagh Pughs Fan Fiction: The Democratic Genre (2005) is a breezily engaging literary study, by a published creative write r (proficcer), of fa nfiction. Pugh states up front that she has no wish to rehash the sociol ogical concerns of previo us writers on fandom, and she therefore plunges straight into consideration of individual works of fanfiction in several different fandoms. And what fa ndoms! Pugh discusses the fanf iction written for not only the grand old media studies warhorse Blakes 7 and the contemporary British crime drama The Bill but also, importantly, the novels of Jane Austen.4 In one fell swoop, Pugh demolishes the notion that texts that accrue fandoms are nece ssarily inadequate as texts, and likewise complicates the understanding of fannishness being tied to cultu rally unworthy objects in order to count as fannishness. By bringing Ja ne Austen fanfiction to the forefront, and by drawing analogies with texts produced outside of fandom that also draw heavily upon the work of other highbrow texts, Pugh is able to place fanfiction within a broader literary tradition a tradition I will discuss in furthe r detail below. Another book is Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busses marvelous, and more ove rtly theoretical, collection, Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet which gathers essays from a va riety of different disciplines, especially, and crucially, from the realms of lite rature and history; Hellekson and Busse provide a needed update to the internal processes of va rious fandoms, almost all of which live primarily on the Internet these days. One of the finest essays in the Helleks on and Busse collection is Abigail Derechos Archontic Literature: A Definition, a Histor y, and Several Theories of Fan Fiction, a thoughtful analysis of fanfictions position within the literary sphere, with insights gleaned not only from academics, but from fans as well. It is this consideration to which I will next turn. 4 For more discussion of fannishn ess surrounding Austen, see Garber.
24 Fanfiction and Literature One of the major pitfalls of the purely medi a studies/ethnographic approach to fandom is that it can often unintentionally isolate the conc ept of fandom from disc ourses outside of that genre, which may contribute to the portrayal of fans as deviants. By focusing upon fanfiction as valuable primarily for what it says about the fandom community, ma ny studies of fandom have cut off fanfiction from a broader literary tradition, a tradition that, I believe, it quite clearly belongs to. In order to effectively discuss fanfictions re lationship to the categor y literature, it is first necessary to define what is meant by fanfic tion. First, the term originates within fandom; one rarely finds non-fannish academics using th e term to refer to commercially-published material that could, conceivably, be defined as such. Therefore, it is necessary to document the various understandings of what is meant by fan fiction within the fan community. Derecho summarizes the three basic fannish unders tandings of the te rm fanfiction: 1) fan fiction originated several millennia ago, with myth stories, and continues today, encompassing works both by authors who identify themselves as fans and those who do not write from within fandoms; 2) fan fi ction should be understood as a product of fan cultures, which began either in the late 1960s, with Star Trek fanzines, or, at the earliest, in the 1920s, with Austen and Holmes societies; 3) The first argument ma y be too broad, but the second line of thinking may be too narrow; some other identifying traits of fan fiction might be expressed that would more accurately situate the genre within the larger field of literature. (62) While I agree with Derechos third position, that fanfiction is best understood as a point between the two more extreme positions, I wish to spend some time discussing her other positions, starting with the first, as this explicit ly locates fanfiction within a literary tradition external to fan communities as we understand them. The tradition of using other peoples plots and characters in literary work has, of course, a long history; even putting aside, for the moment the vast amount of material based upon folk
25 narratives, there remains a great deal of preceden t within the literary tradition for poaching characters and plots created by ot her authors. Chaucers rewriti ngs of Bocaccio; Shakespeares promiscuous cribbing from any and all sources; Miltons rewriting of the Biblical fall to suit himself; the innumerable sequels to works like Gullivers Travels The Threepenny Opera Pamela and Tristram Shandy ; alternative Alice in Wonderland s5; every Sherlock Holmes pastiche ever produced; Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea ; Cesaires Une Tempete ; Coetzees Foe ; Maguires Wicked ; Naslunds Ahabs Wife ; Updikes Gertrude and Claudius ; Rawless My Jim ; Randalls The Wind Done Gone ; Brookss Pulitzer-Prize Winning March ; and, of course, the perennial favorite of fans, Stoppards Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead : all make use of characters and plots that did not originate with their authors. David Brewer, in The Afterlife of Character: 1726-1825 refers to this process of poaching characters as imagina tive expansion: his study of 18th and early 19th century material is especially relevant to an understanding of presentday imaginative expansions, and not simply for furnishing further examples of artistic precedent for poaching characters. The 18th century is the era in which debates about in tellectual property and copyright law became a major part of the discourse of literature. Br ewer discusses the competing discourses of the economy of abundance as distinct from the economy of scarcity, as they applied to literary characters, and which uncannily foreshadow current discussions about fanfiction: If characters were unc onstrained by mortal law, then th ey could also be regarded as perpetually available through what Simon St ern has usefully termed an economy of abundance. This way of thinking about litera ry property postulates that any future use becomes a form of increase, that value is added merely by additional iteration and circulation. Needless to say, th is is just a fantasy, a conj ecture concerning the supposed fundamental nature of literary property, not a description of the actua l material conditions of the book trade, which, like any other sector of the economy, involved finite resources. But for our purposes, and those of the reader s with whom we are concerned, the accuracy 5 See Brooker ( Alice ), and Siglers anthology.
26 of this fantasy was irrelevant. The important thing was the way in which it could provide a compelling alternative to the (equally far-fet ched, but to us more familiar) economy of scarcity, driven by the logic of an inel astic marketplace, which many booksellers promulgated in their attempts to secure perp etual copyright. In an economy of scarcity, literary property was conceived as a zero-sum game: a readers gain must mean an authors loss. In an economy of abunda nce, on the other hand, no such dispossession could occur, since with resp ect to Intellectual Labours, we may improve the Discoveries of others without invading thei r Property. By imagining them selves as participants in an economy of abundance populated by inexhaustible sprites, readers could feel free to invent whatever additional performances stru ck their fancy without having to worry that they were being unjust or larcenous. (11) Brewers description of the competing economie s of scarcity and a bundance could just as easily be applied to the conflicts that arise in th e present era between copy right holders and fans. The emergent Enlightenment discourse of individua l and natural rights, which included rights to property, was thus played out in the real m of literature; indeed, a common analogy invoked by those participating in imaginative expansion was that of the commons, where all cottagers had the right to graze their animals; in this r eading, all literature was c onceived of as, in the words of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a magazine of common property, always open to the publick, whence every man has a right to take what materi als he pleases (quoted in Brewer 15). In our own era, it is technological adva nces, particularly the mainstream ing of the Internet, that have forced the issue of intellectua l property into the open, as writ ers working in violation of copyright law now have a means of distributi ng their work outside of official publication. This leads into my consideration of Derec hos second position, which is that fanfiction can only be understood as a product of fandoms, which is almost always considered to begin with Star Trek This argument obviously places a great deal of emphasis on fanfictions relationship to modern concepts of fandom, whic h themselves have a great deal to do with advances in technology, the advent of the mass media, and, crucially, modern copyright law. While these points are well taken, I feel that th is argument is far too narrow, and isolates fanfiction from non-fannish texts that are almost iden tical in terms of artis tic process, if not in
27 terms of the community that produced them. I also feel that this position is simply a reiteration of the overused sociological appr oach, which reinforces the notion that fanfiction is interesting only as a byproduct of a particular community, and is completely is olated from broader literary traditions. Like Derecho, I feel a good definition of fanfiction will partake of both of these positions: it will establish fanfic tions relationship to literature as a whole, while at the same time make clear the particular cu ltural conditions from whence it sp rings. To that end, I feel that a general term for the type of literature, fannish or otherwise, th at poaches pre-existing characters, might be useful. The critical idiom of intertextuality, is, at first, appealing; literat ure that makes use of other literary characters is an extremely overt cas e of intertextuality. However, the majority of the writers concerned with intert extuality (Barthes, Kristeva, Gene tte) talk about intertextuality in terms of the totality of literature and language: all language is referential, all writing is rewriting, the goal of literary work (of literature as work) is to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text (Barthes 4) While all of these concepts are crucial for understanding the type of literature to which fanfiction belongs, they are concerned with literature and language in general ; all literature is intertextual. Therefore, while referring to works that poach extensively from other texts as intertextual is absolutely correct, it doesnt differentiate these texts from the mass of literature in general and I think such differentiation is necessary. Fanfictional-type literature does not merely reference or allude to other texts: it lifts characters and plots, whole cl oth, from a pre-existing source (in fandom, this source text is referred to as the canon). Fanfictional-type texts are extensively intertextual with regard to a specific and identifiable pre-existing work; they are predic ated upon the reader being familiar
28 with that particular pre-existing text, often to the point where lack of familiarity with that preexisting text will render the current text nearly incomprehensible. Derecho correctly argues that the terms most of ten applied to such texts, derivative and appropriative (one could perhaps, also throw the concept of poaching into this mix), contain a negative value judgment on the worth of such te xts: To label the ge nre of fiction based on antecedent texts derivative or appropriative, then, throws into question the originality, creativity, and legality of that genre. Instea d, she proposes the term archontic literature for fanfictional-type texts, inspired by this passage in Jacques Derridas Archive Fever : By incorporating the knowledge displayed in re ference to it, the archive augments itself, engrosses itself, it gains in auctoritas But in the same stroke it loses the absolute and metatextual authority it might claim to have. One will never be able to objectivize it with no remainder. The archivist produces more arch ive, and that is why the archive is never closed. It opens out of the future. (quoted in Derecho 64) Derecho argues that the archontic principl e, that tendency toward enlargement and accretion that all archives possess (64), is an accurate descrip tion of the relationship between source texts and the texts that borrow from them. Instead of understandin g the fanfictional text as a diminishing of the source te xt, Derecho argues that instea d, such literature expands the archive of the source text: An archontic text allows, or even invites, writers to enter into it, select specific items they find useful, make new artifacts using thos e found objects, and deposit the newly made work back into the source texts archive. (65) This concept, nearly identical to Brewers economy of abundance, admirably breaks down the problematic hierarchies between source text and fanfictional expansions, and is therefore effectively removes the stigma of derivative and appropriative. However, I have two objections to the adaptatio n of archontic to refe r to texts of this nature: one theoretical, and one more a matter of personal preferen ce. First, as Derecho herself admits, archontic can easily refer to all literat ure: Given that what I am calling archontic
29 texts are always open and have the potential fo r infinite expansion, one might say that, in a sense, all texts can be called arc hontic (65). As with interte xtual, I dont see how this term, while interesting, can usefully be restricted only to those text s that engage in the type of extensive and coherent borrowing th at is the key marker of this genre. My second objection ties into my concern, expressed earlier, about rarification of academic discourse on fandom; archontic, while providing a fascinating way of understanding this type of literature, is only really transparent to those who are familiar with Derrida, and thus has the potential to function as a gatekeeper. The term I think might be more useful, in pl ace of archontic literature, to describe the entire genre of texts based extens ively on specific pre-existing texts, is recursive literature. As defined by David Langford in John Clute and John Grants Encyclopedia of Fantasy recursive fantasy is that which exploits ex isting fantasy settings or characters from a specific former fiction (805, emphasi s his); Langford distinguishes these recursive texts from twice-told fantasy, which Clute defines as texts which are clea r retellings of a pre-existing folk narrative (968). I have chosen to slightly modify Langford and Clutes definitions; I think recursive may function well as a broad description of any text that partakes explicitly and extensively of a specific, identifiable, pre-ex isting story, and twice -told is a useful subcategory, distinguishing those recursiv e texts which partake of a particular folk narrative (I will attend to folk texts in a few moments). I prefer recursive to archontic for several reasons. First, it strikes me as more specific: objects that ar e recursive are always recursive to another object. In a textual sense, it marks a specific, and active relationship between texts; recursive implies interaction between texts in a way that archontic does not: while the metaphor of the archive is an excellent description of the fact that literature accumulates more
30 literature and draws it to itself, I believe recursion is a better descrip tion of that process of accumulation. Archontic refers to a space, recursi ve refers to an action: given the choice, I prefer the term that contains th e greater assumption of agency, of action for the activities of fans. I feel it ties in better with my overall arguments concerning fans as producers, and fandom as a place from which it is possible to operate from a position of strength (as per Jenkins). Second, I feel the term requires rather less unpacking than arc hontic does, not simply for the fact that the word itself is more immediately co mprehensible, but also because my usage derives from The Encyclopedia of Fantasy a text that was published for a mixed academic and popular audience, concerning a genre that has close historical ties with modern fandom. So, now we have a term that may be useful for describing l iterature that makes extensive and explicit use of characters a nd plots from a specific pre-exis ting text, from The Wife of Baths Tale to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to The Bloody Chamber to the entire contents of Fanfiction.net. Within this broad ca tegory, what, then, are the useful distinctions to be made? First, I have been us ing recursive literature to refer explicitly to narratives that would be classed as literary, as opposed to folk that is, the (forgive me) secondary text is a literary rather than a folk production. This is because all folk narratives are, in some sense, recursive: folk narratives are, by definition, narratives that have been repeated by a number of people, to the point where their individual or igins are obscured, and they become common property of the culture. Because repetition is built into the ve ry concept of the category, folk narratives do not need to be explicitly marked th e way that recursive literary texts, which battle with the Romantic conception of good literatur e/art as something wholly original, do. Indeed, the Romantic conception of folklore is in direct opposition to the Romantic conception of art; folk narratives were c onstructed as valuable precisely because of their lack of
31 originality, that is, their status as survivals from an earlier age. These separate hierarchies of value were used to downplay or denigrate recu rsivity in literature (as unoriginal) and innovation in folk narrative (as inauthentic). Of course, folk narratives have furnished insp iration for any number of recursive literary texts: this is Clutes category twice-told, the name of which emphasizes these recursive texts explicit connection with oral storytelling tradi tions; for example, Angela Carters The Bloody Chamber is a twice-told story re cursive to the fairy tale Bluebear d. It is at th is point that I should mark out another subcategory of recurs ive that has a close, but not exclusive, relationship with the category twi ce-told: retellings. Retell ings are those recursive texts which, well, retell the plot of the source text in a recogni zable way; the majority of twice-told narratives are retellings, as are texts such as Cold Mountain (which narrates the events of the Odyssey as taking place in the Civil War South), and, more obliquely, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (which shows us the unfolding of Hamlet from the eyes of two minor characters). Retellings are distinct from prequels (like Wide Sargasso Sea ) and sequels (like all those further adventures of Macheath and Polly Peachum that Brewer talks about) in that they incorporate the bulk of the plot of the source text, and often, though not always, begin and end at roughly the same points as the source plot. However, there are a number of recursive text s that do not seem to have incorporated the plot of the source text in any meaningful wa y, but are instead focuse d almost exclusively upon the characters. Such stories may take place before during, or after the events of the source text, but do not engage with the primary plot as a plot, but merely as background. This may seem like hairsplitting, but I pr efer to reserve prequel and se quel for those texts which narrate events that are directly related to the events of the primary plot; for example, I would probably
32 not consider a Potter fan story a bout Lily Evans and Sirius Black having a romantic encounter at Hogwarts a prequel, in the wa y I would a story about James a nd Lily Potter going into hiding from Voldemort: the former is simply a story that takes place before the events of the main plot of the Potter books, while the latter is clearly a buildup to that main plot. This seems to be relatively common usage in fannish contexts; stor ies explicitly labeled p requels or sequels are either buildups or con tinuations of the main plot, while stor ies that do not engage with that plot are rarely marked as such. Another example of recursive literature that often makes use of the source characters rather than the source plot is so-called alternate universe (o ften abbreviated to AU in fandom) fiction, which places charact ers in a setting substantially different from their original milieu: Harry Potter as a sheriff in the Wild We st or captain of a spaceship, and the like. Of course, AUs can also take plot as well as characters: one can describe, say, Joyces Ulysses as an AU retelling of the Odyssey (Generally, stories where char acters are somehow transported, in the story, from their original universe to an alternate universe are not called AUs; AUs posit the characters as existing in the alternate universe from the be ginning.) And pastiche is a form of recursive literature that attempts to mimic the style of the source text; pastiches are more likely to crib characters than plots from their source texts a st ory that has the same characters, the same style, and the same plot as the source text is a rather pointless exercise, since you may as well just read the original. The joy of a pastiche is us ually that of seeing the characters, in their accustomed style, participating in a plot that the original author, for whatever reason (including propriety, prudery, or sanity), neglected to write. Many texts recursive to Conan Doyle, Wodehouse, Pratchett, or Tolkien (prior to the Peter Ja ckson films) are pastiches.
33 All recursive literature depends, to a great ex tent, on a reader familiar with the text being referenced; writing about pre-existing characters and plots does not only close down certain avenues of artistic inquiry, but more than compensates by opening up a whole host of other artistic directions not open to original fiction. Sheenagh P ugh notes that shorthand, allusion and irony (32) are especial hallmar ks of recursive texts. Recurs ive literature especially lends itself to feats of compression that would be impo ssible in a non-recursive text: for example, a line in a Harry Potter story as seemingly innocuous as Ginny was keeping a diary again, is, in fact, deeply ominous for a clued-in reader. Fanfiction cribs plots, characte rs, styles, or all three; fanf iction can draw from both folk and literary texts; fanfiction can be a prequel, sequel, retelling, pastiche, or none of the above; fanfiction can show characters in their original universe, or tr ansport them to another time, place, or dimension. So, how, then, can fanfiction be differentiated within the admittedly broad category of recursive literature ? I define fanfiction thus: fanfiction is recursive literature that, whether out of preference or necessity, circulates outside of the official institutional control of commercial publishing Fanfiction is most usefully di stinguished from other forms of recursive literature by its means of distribution rather than by more arbitrary distinctions distinctions that almost always contain a value judgment detrim ental to fanfiction, such as the perceived cultural capital of the source text or, ev en worse, the aesthetic quality of the recursive text. Fanfiction often operates in a legal grey area in relation to copyright law Jenkinss term poaching was not chosen lightly and ofte n find themselves engaging with economy of scarcity discourses promulgated by copyright holders. Howeve r fan writers, unlike Brewers 18th century sequel writers, operate in a strictly non-profit manne r, which has so far proven to be not only an effective safety strategy ( no copyright infringement case involving amateur
34 productions has ever made it into court, as copyri ght holders generally don t think it worth their while6), but has also freed fan writers from needi ng to adhere to the standards set by commercial publishers. While this can, and sometimes does, mean, freedom from standards of grammar, spelling, and readability, more fruitfully, it m eans that fan writers are not limited to producing stories that publishers think they can sell. While fans ar e not able capitalize on their writing in terms of money or official rec ognition, fan writers are compensa ted by not being restricted to institutionalized discourses. This freedom, as well as the support of a community of likeminded readers and writers, means that even writ ers creating texts recurs ive to out-of-copyright works, such as Shakespeares plays7 or Jane Austens novels8, often prefer to circulate their stories within an unofficial context a contex t distinguishable from active-copyright fandoms only by the lack of an admonition to avoid drawing the attention of The Powers That Be. This artistic freedom covers all aspects of literature from format (100-word drabbles, short stories, novellas, epic poems all of whic h are difficult or impossible to sell) to style (writers can create spot-on past iches of the source text, or ca n develop their own styles) to substance: fan writers are free to use characte rs and plots to explore any discourse under the sun, a freedom especially felt with regard to non-normative and taboo forms and representations of sexuality. If that sounds a little utopian, its because I believe, in some ways, that it is: while fandom is not all sunshine and bunnies (as any Fa ndom Wank member can attest), for the most part, fandom is a space where freedom to read an d write whatever one wants are felt in a much more concrete way than in more official spa ces. This is especially true for young readers and writers, whose official spaces are far more heav ily policed. Fanfiction is, in many ways, given 6 See Jenkins, Convergence 185-91, for more information on legal issues and Potter fanfiction. 7 The Shakespeare section at Fanfiction.net currently (February 13, 2007) boasts 907 stories. 8 See Pugh.
35 life by what other spaces dont a llow it takes for itself spaces w ithin the text, and fills those spaces with stories that canon ha s no room or desire for. The implied clued-in audience that all recursiv e texts hope for is gratifyingly visible, in the form of the fandom, and th at community is not only famili ar with the source text the canon -but is also familiar with the vast arch ive (in Derechos sense) of material that has built up around the canon, an archive which incl udes the primary canon (the official source texts -in Potters case, Row lings books), the secondary can on (material that is not as authoritative as the primary ca non, but originates from somewh ere near the producers of the primary canon the Potter films, interviews w ith Rowling, and so forth), and the mass of fanproduced material, which, in large fandoms, is of ten, in sheer bulk, far greater than the primary and secondary canons combined. Some fan-produced archival material such as a particular interpretation of canon, or the portrayal of a pa rticular character in an influential piece of fanfiction -that gains widespread currency in the fandom is referred to as fanon, a portmanteu of fan canon. For example, in the Potter fandom, the majority of the stories about Draco Malfoy have far more to do w ith his characterization in a clut ch of core fanfics than they do with his portrayal in canon, whet her by replicating this characterization or writing against it. In the Potter fandom, fanon, especially wh en the fanon is expressly posited as an interpretation of canon, often an ticipates or even surpasses ac ademic readings of Rowlings texts. Fans are not only co mmunicating via a much faster medium than that of scholarly publishing, but also have access to a vast network of fact-checking sites, essays, fanfiction, and theorizing that non-fannish academics do not. Fan th eorizing is a parallel tradition to academic examination and in the case of aca-fans, one that overlaps explicitly and academics who wish to discuss the Potter books would benefit enormously from familiarizing themselves with
36 the fandom and its readings of characters and texts. Moreov er, Internet fandom provides a visible record of readers responses to the Po tter books, and showcases the enormous range of acceptable discourses within fandom, which anyone interested in the impact the Potter books have had on our culture woul d do well to investigate. Seperis, a fan, eloquently sums up the particular pleasures, as both read er and writer, to be gained from fanfiction: It's always been high praise in fannish circle s to be told that you wrote a story so good it should be published, but sometimes, the highest praise is that it can't be. It's very uniqueness, what creates it, makes it impossible to be anything else. Lots of people can write stories that fall into readable (more th an you think, actually, but I'm flexible on the idea of readable), and many can write stories I' d pay to read, and even some write stories that could be published and be great. But ther e's this small, fascinating group that write a story that belongs only to the fandom that cr eated it. It's like having a treasure you never have to share. It wraps itse lf in the canon and fanon and the author's own mind that created it and takes it as its own so perfectly that you are so da mn *glad* you went into that fandom, just *grateful*, just ab solutely *thrilled*, because yo u get to read *this* And no where else would it have worked, if you'd been in a different fandom when you read it, it wouldn't have, you wouldn't have gotten it, but here, it just blows your mind. There's something magical about a story that has subtext in the subtext.9 Now, at last, it is time to finally turn from the general to the particular, and to begin my discussion of Harry Potter. First, I will brie fly recount the publication history of the canon, which will set the stage for an overview of the Potter fandom. Potter Publishing: Official History The first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone ( Sorcerers Stone in the US) was published in Great Britain in 1997. It garnered rapturous reviews from British reviewers;10 more importantly, it became a grassroot s sensation among schoolchildren in both the UK and the US. The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (UK: July 1998; US: May 1999) and the third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (UK: July 1999; 9 Seperis. November 23, 2003. Accessed October 1, 2006. LJ. 10 See Nel for a roundup of reviews of books 1-4.
37 US: September 1999) upped the ante; the seri es had, by this time, become a full-blown publishing phenomenon, with an enormous amount of media attention fo r Rowling, the series, and, more broadly, childrens literature. Partic ularly noteworthy was th e fact that the Potter books had captured the attention of adults, and not simply parents or those who deal professionally with childrens books, but ordinary adult readers an interesting reversal of the usual top-down movement associated with children s literature, where adu lts write, publish, and distribute the books they deem wort hy to children. The release of Azkaban generated hype that had heretofore never been seen for a childre ns book, and, predictabl y, the beginnings of a backlash. As Philip Nel reports: By the time Prisoner of Azkaban was published most opinions of Harry Potter fell into one of four categories: 1) praise for the books because they either entice children to read or prove that childrens literature is worthy of adult attentio n; 2) scorn directed at people in the first group and, by extension, at the Harry Potter phenomenon, for a variety of reasons; 3) conservative US Christians suggesting th at the books should be removed from school libraries; and 4) the debate over whether the novels deserved to be ranked with classic childrens fiction. (Nel 56) Literary critics were dist ributed throughout categories 1,2, and 4; category 1 also contained a number of librarians and educators, who were in an ideal pos ition to see the impact of the Potter books on large numbers of children. Their opponents were Nels category 3, the conservative Christians whose repeated attempts to ban the Potter books earned the series its spot at the top of the American Library Asso ciations Most Challenge d Books list in 1999, an honor it has retained ever since. Those in ca tegory 2 were, outside of conservative Christian circles, the primary agents of the Potter backlash, and their an ti-Potter arguments tended to be framed in three ways: a) outrage that adults were wasting their time on childrens literature, borne out of a general disdain for the category as a whole (Bloom, Safire); b) concern over the enormous hype the books were receiving, whether out of fears of the ove r-commercialization of childrens culture or out of an elitist rejection of anythi ng that was deemed too popular
38 (Bloom, Safire, Zipes); c) critique of the books on aesthetic grounds.11 Of course, two or even three of these objections could be combined, and this was especially common in the response to Azkaban s nomination for the prestigious Whitbread pr ize, against such works for adults like Seamus Heaneys translation of Beowulf (the eventual winner). Jack Zipes, who knows far more about childrens literature than many anti-Potterites, no netheless dismissed the books on grounds that have more to do with their populari ty than with actual aes thetic judgment: [T]o be phenomenal means that a person or commodity must conform to the tastes of hegemonic groups that determine what makes up a phenomenon (Zipes 175). As Nel remarks, For Zipes, then, the success of the Harry Potter novels can only mean th at they are ordinary, and, by implication, unworthy of success (Nel 60). Which is something of a catch-22, because, presumably, the very act of succeeding renders a te xt unworthy, since it can only appeal to the lowest common denominator. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released in July of 2000; the publication gap between the UK and other English-speaking c ountries had been steadily narrowing, and now became nonexistent, enabling North American fans to receive the book at the same time as their UK counterparts. Midnight rele ase parties were held across th e globe, and reviewers which now included a roster of famous writers such as Stephen King and Pe nelope Lively were asked not to reveal key plot details. After Goblet Rowling, who now had the clout to be able to take her time, took a break, saying that she had felt rushed during the writing of Goblet and wanted to have more time to work on the later books. The period between Goblet and the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix three years later, was perhaps the first time that the full cultural impact of the Potter books could 11 See Nel for a more detailed discussion of these responses.
39 be assessed, as both child and a dult readers came up with strategies for making the wait between books bearable. Rowlings success sparked interest in both old and new fantasy series, with librarians and booksellers setting up displays enti tled What to read while youre waiting for the next Harry Potter : Philip Pullmans lauded His Dark Materials trilogy became a bestseller in this manner, as did the works of Diana Wynne J ones, many of which were re-issued after having gone out of print. Likewise, classic fantasy text s such as C.S. Lewiss Narnia series (1950-56) and Elizabeth Goudges The Little White Horse (1946) experienced a revival, with The Little White Horse s 2001 reissue sporting a blurb from Row ling, who names it as one of her favorite books as a child. The release of the enorm ously successful Warner Brothers films of Stone and Chamber in 2001 and 2002 respectively, also kept interest in the series alive during this time, as did the 2001 publication, by Rowling, of the schoolbooks Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages This is also the period when the online Potter fandom became a force to be reckoned with in the fannish universe, as will be discussed below. Phoenix was released around the world in June 2003, and garnered even more high-profile attention, most of it positive; while there was some concern that th e series darker turn might be troubling for younger readers, on the whole, reviewers were pleased with the fact that the series appeared to grow with Harry, both in thematic maturity and size: Order weighed in at a hefty 870 pages. Of course, the backlash continued, with A.S. Byatt taking up Bloom and Safires snobbish mantle, with a side helping of obvious resentment of Rowlings popular success as compared to her own (Harry Po tter and the Childish Adult).12 By this point, the popularity of the series had made a great deal of money fo r all concerned -Rowling herself was accounted richer than the Queen in 2003 (J. K. Rowli ng, BBC News), and by 2004, had become the first 12 For a roundup of responses to Byatt, see Ben Williams, The Critics Critiqued.
40 person ever to become a billionaire, in US dollars, from writing, and only the fifth female selfmade billionaire,13 but the impact of the series was not solely financial. The Potter books had also dragged the discourse of childrens literature previously confined to educators, librarians, and a relatively small group of scholars, closer to the mainstream of both academic and popular culture. Attempts to reinforce the ghettoi zation of childrens literature, such as the New York Times 2001 creation of a separate bestseller list for childrens books (in response to adult authors complaints that the Potter strangle hold on the top spots made it impossible for their own books to crack the list, and therefore receiv e the coveted New York Times bestseller blurb on their book covers), were criticized as disingenuous gatekeeping. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the next-to-last book in the series, was released worldwide in July 2005. The initial print run of 10.8 million books (in the US), broke all previous records, including the one set by the Phoenix release two years earlier. Speculation on character deaths, always rampant, was especial ly high for this book, with the vast majority correctly betting on Dumbledore; the Guardian even ran a pre-release contest for the best description of Dumbledores de ath in the style of a famous writer (the winner was The Poppynge of the Clogges, in the manner of Chau cer, with runners-up im itating Helen Fielding and Irvine Welsh).14 On February 1, 2007. Rowling announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released on July 21, 2007; I detail fan response to this announcement in the conclusion. To date, the Potter books have collectively so ld over 300 million copies, and individual books in the series have garnered numerous mer it-based awards such as the British Book Award 13 Watson and Kellner. 14 Great Expectations.
41 for childrens book of the year ( Stone Chamber Prince ), the Whitbread award for childrens book of the year ( Azkaban ), and the Hugo ( Goblet ). Portrait of the Artist as a Young Fan Let us hearken back to the image of the pathol ogical fan for a moment: if one strips away the overt criminality, what one is left with is a portrait of immaturity The teenage girl able to express her sexuality only by sc reaming and crying for pop stars,15 or the adult male who lives in his parents basement and has never kissed a girl16 are the standard gender stereotypes; the concept of adolescence whether actual or inappropriately re tained, is the key component of the pathological fan. Fannnishness is no f it activity for a mature adult. Studies of participatory fans, have, by and large, attempted to demolish this image by focusing on the creative end of fandom the fanfic writers, the zine edito rs, the vidders which is dominated by adult women.17 These adult women are another point on the pathological fan continuum: the bored housewife, who, like adolescen ts, is not a participant in the real world if she were, presumably this real world w ould drive all these silly fantasies about silly television shows out of her head, fantasies more appropriate to a teenag er than for an adult woman who has achieved the pinnacle of feminine existence, heterosexual marriage. What the work of earlier scholars such as Jenkins, Bacon-Smith, and Penley attempted to do was show fandom as, indeed, a fit activity for adults, and one, moreover that was a potential site of resistance to the dominant ideologies of the mark etplace and of patriarcha l culture in general. 15 See Ehrenreich, Hess, and Jacobs. 16 It comes as no surprise that the titular 40-Year-Old Virgin of the recent film engaged in stereotypical fannish activities like toy collecting. 17 For unknown reasons, male fans tend to congregate in the sections of fandom devoted to consumption (toy collecting and so forth), while the active producers of fann ish creative material are more likely to be female.
42 Fandom was a space for savvy, subversive women, e ngaging in creative and very adult ways with media texts. In the modern era, fanfiction circulated by way of self-published zines. Access to fanfiction, and participatory fando m in general, was restricted to those who knew the right people, in order to be put on mailing lists, and had the financial resour ces to order zines and attend conventions in other words, adults. Ea rly studies of particip atory fandom helped to defuse some of the adolescent stigma of fannishness simply by documenting the community, which consisted almost entirely of adults, and by presenting these adults in a positive light. Fanfiction zines, which were selected and edit ed for quality, also contributed to the impression of fandom as an adult space, adheri ng to adult standards of taste. However, the mainstreaming of Internet tec hnology in the late 1990s radically altered the fannish landscape, not only in terms of day-to-d ay functioning of fandom, but in demographics. Media fans tended, as a group, to be ear ly adopters of digital technologies18 and had begun migrating onto the Net in the mid-80s, but while this new medium was fast er, the actual fannish community didnt change much until access to this technology became widespread. (Of course, the Internet was not entirely a free-for-all: acces s to the technology was, and is, still a privilege of those in the middle and upper socioeconomic tie rs.) Now, anyone with access to the Internet could not only find fanfiction, but could publish their own a nd this included children and teenagers, who were likely to be far more Net-savvy than their parents. The advent of Harry Potter coincided with this mainstreaming of the Internet, a fortuitous combination of the runaway success of a text published for children and teenagers with widespread access of children and teenagers to cutting-edge communications technology. The 18 Jenkins, Interactive.
43 Internet, especially in the Potter fandom, enables communication not only between young readers, but young writers as well, who have acce ss to a wider audience than ever before. As Ernest Bond and Nancy Michelson observe: It is not a new phenomenon for young readers to occasionally extend a literary creation by becoming authors of new versions, sequels, or spin-offs of the story. However, the advent of Harry Potter has generated an unprecedented number of voluntary literary responses by adolescent readers. (Bond and Michelson 111) Henry Jenkins has expanded upon this theme, with an in-depth discussion of general pedagogical benefits enjoyed by adolescent participants in the Potter fandom, including increased media literacy, access to a community of peer reviewers, and fostering of intellectual and artistic creativity all outside the direct control of adults, but with a great deal of egalitarian cross-generational conversation (see Jenkins Heather and Convergence ). This cross-generational exchange remains one of Potter fandoms greatest strengths, as well as one of its greatest sources of friction. Harry Potter was one of the first major fandoms whose canon was marketed primarily to children and teenagers, rather than adults; although the series has achieved enormous popular success among adults, who form a major portion of the online fandom, Potter fandom as a whole is perceived as skewing a bit younger than more traditional fandoms. And not only younger, but less experien ced in traditional fandom cultural norms Harry Potter is, for many particip ants, their very first foray into fandom. Potter fandom grew up entirely on the Internet. It has never known a time when access to fanfiction, either to read or to publish, was limite d by finite resources and editorial control; its only experience of the fannish landscape has been one of infinite space, where anyone can post anything they wish. Potter fandom never needed to mentor in new members, nor did it ever experience the top-down editorial control of zi ne-based fandoms. This freedom of access, combined with the sheer size of the Potter fandom, has resulted in a fandom of subgroups,
44 specialized fandoms-within-fandom, which is where the bulk of most fans day-to-day functioning within the fandom o ccurs creating what Frances ca Coppa calls an increasingly customizable fannish experience (54). Th ese subgroups can be based around a website, a mailing list, a journal community; and those spaces can be devoted to an interpretation of canon, a character, a genre of fanfiction, a romantic pairing (ship, short for relationship), an author. What this means in terms of Potter fanfiction is that each of these subgroups can churn out its own stories for its own audience with impunity. The enormous number of people participating in the online fandom almost gua rantees that however outr your fanfictional desires, somebody will share them and will have wr itten a story, or be willing to read yours. Writers of unpopular pairings or s quickier scenarios often had, in the days of zines, a difficult time getting their stories published and therefore finding an audience. The Internet cut out the middlemen: Arguably, this may be fandoms pos tmodern moment, where the rules are there aint no rules and traditions are made to be broken (Coppa 57). The first Potter story posted on the e normous multifandom ar chive Fanfiction.net appeared on September 4, 1999. Fanfiction.net was the space where much of the Potter fandoms activity took place in the early days, an d it still maintains the largest collection of Potter stories (at last count over 280,000) on the web. Later that month, the mailing list Harry Potter for Grown-Ups (HP4GU),19 devoted primarily to canon discussion and speculation, but serving as a springboard for many prominent early Potter fanfiction writers, was founded; this list currently includes 21,958 members. This was also the period when I first encountered, and fell in love with, the Potter books; also, I had ju st discovered this thing called fanfiction, and was inhaling X-Files and Homicide: Life on the Street stories by the truckload. My reading in 19 Mailing list founded September 17, 1999,; HP4GU moved to its present-day Yahoogroup site (< http://groups.yahoo.com/ group/HPforGrownups/ >) on August 25, 2000. Accessed October 2, 2006.
45 the Potter fandom was, at this time, sporadic; I didnt care for the character of Draco or the pairing of Harry and Hermione, both of which seemed to dominate Potter fanfiction at the time. 2000 saw the worldwide release of Goblet which inaugurated the Potter fandoms Long Wait, when the fandom spread like kudzu acr oss the Web. The three-year period between Goblet and Phoenix established the prevai ling culture of the Potte r fandom, a culture that differed in significant ways from traditional fandoms. First, there is a major difference possibly the most important difference between a fandom whose primary canon is complete (i.e., a self-contained book or film, a completed book or television series) and a fa ndom whose primary canon is incomp lete. The rhythm of day-today fandom functioning, the nature of the fights, the type of fanfic tion produced: in these areas, fandoms with completed canons have far more in common with each other than they do with incomplete-canon fandoms in the same medium or genre. The arrival of secondary canon, like film versions of a comp leted book series (such as The Lord of the Rings ), will invigorate the fandom, often dramatically, but this invigoration is of a different so rt than that which happens in an incomplete canon when new primary canon comes along. However, canon medium, especially when c onsidered alongside the primary mode of fandom communication, will have an enormous influence on an incomplete-canon fandom culture. In the days of printzines, fans of ongoing weekly televisi on series tended to be somewhat sanguine (for a given value of som ewhat) about canon development that nullified their interpretations, their fanfiction, or bot h fannish communicati on and distribution of production moved far more slowly then the canon its elf, which meant that fanfic would often be out-of-date long before distributi on. The Internet enabled televi sion fans production not just to keep pace with the canon, but outpace it, which had not been possible before. The term joss,
46 meaning to render fan work uncanonical,20 originated in Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom (in honor of series creator Joss Whedon, famous for hi s wild plot twists and willingness to kill off main characters), but quickly achieved pan-fandom us age; the fact that the term was so quickly and widely adopted suggests that it fulfilled a co nceptual void within the fandom: before the Internet, jossed-ness was the us ual state of affairs, taken in stride by readers and writers of fanfiction, so there wasnt a particular need to ma rk that state out with a specific term. Presentday fans of ongoing television seri es have, for the most part, retained this comparatively sanguine attitude to jossing, se eing it as inevitable; the arriva l of brand-new canon each week means that television fans dont have quite the sa me opportunities to get a ttached to particular readings of canon. Not so in the Potter fandom. Three years is a long time on the Internet. The vast numbers in the Potter fandom, all of whose members had access to the primar y means of publication, meant that popular arguments and positions were getting rehashed constantly. Political factions formed around various characters, ships, and genr es. This, in itself, was certainly not a new activity for fans, but instead of having to wait fo r newsletters or conventions, the advent of the Internet meant that loyalties could be cem ented and opponents could be confronted on a daily basis and there were always new allies to ma ke and enemies to fight. Potter fans become deeply, and visibly, entrenched in their particular positions, whic h turns every countdown to the release of new canon into a ticking time bomb. (F ans joke that the release of Book 7 will break the Internet.) This entrenchment, the speed and anonymity of the Web, and the relative youth and/or inexperience of many Potter fans a ll have earned Potter fandom a reputation for flamewars notable for their vitriol. Perhaps the most bitter is the Great Shipper War, a battle 20 See Browne.
47 between the two major het (heterosexual) ships, Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione; the question of which boy Hermione would or should romance became a major source of conflict in the fandom, to the point wh ere canon confirmation (in Prince ) of Hermione/Ron merely exacerbated the issue instead of resolving it. However, the Potter fandom produced a great de al more than simply conflict during the Long Wait. The speed of Internet communicatio n meant that the fannish feedback process, always much faster than that of official publis hing, was now instantaneous. This speed also meant that the fandom could become saturated w ith a particular pairi ng or kink very quickly, and thus spur fans on to write different, more experimental mate rial, and draw audiences. When I wandered back into the Potte r fandom in 2002, the landscape had changed a great deal from my brief foray two years earlier. I had been bi ding my time in popslash fandom, a community devoted to producing homoerotic stories a bout members of the boybands NSync and the Backstreet Boys (yes, really); this fandom, despite or, actually, because of the absurdity of the source material, had attracted a number of experien ced and talented fanfic writers interested in exploring issues of modern ce lebrity, consumerism, and sexua l representation, and the fandom was noted for the consistently high artistic caliber of the stories produced. At any rate, in 2002, the boyband phenomenon was winding down, and popslash fans, in a very common fannish move, migrated to other fandoms, with a great many going to Harry Potter. By this point, the fandom had expanded far beyond those early Drac o and Harry/Hermione narratives, and I was able to find fanfiction more to my taste, whic h I enjoyed so much I was inspired to produce some of my own. This injecti on of popslashers was, while influential, not the first foray of older media fans into the Potter fandom; Snape fans, especially the Snape slashers, were a subgroup visibly distinguished from the rest of fandom, at the time, by the presence of these
48 old-school fans. According to Fanhistory.com the Snape faction got a major boost in 2001, with the release of the film version of Stone featuring the attractive (arguably too attractive) actor Alan Rickman as Snape.21 2002 saw a major rupture in the fandom: the enormous archive Fanfiction.net (hereafter FF.N) banned all NC-17 fic from the site. De spite the existence of Potter-specific general archives such as FictionAlley.org (hereafter FA), as well as numer ous characteror ship-specific sites, FF.N was still the primary location for the bulk of Potter fi c in the fandom. In response, Potter fans created RestrictedSection.org (hereafte r RS), an archive solely for NC-17 fic (for more on RSs trials and tribul ations, see Chapter 2). The re moval of the porn from FF.N hastened the fragmentation of the Potter fandom into ever-more-specific subgroups; FF.N itself became the domain of the youngest and least expe rienced members of the fandom. Moreover, online fandom as a whole was gradually shifting fr om mailing lists to blogs, especially to the free open-source blog-hosting site Livejournal (henceforth abbrevia ted as LJ). Blogs online personal journals to which readers can comment gave fans their own individual, and publicly accessible, soapbox in which to publish fanfic tion, essays, and random thoughts about their lives. While mailing lists were still very much in play, LJ blogs and communities consisting of a central blog to which a num ber of members could post indivi dual entries became a force to be reckoned with. 2002 also saw the creation of the satiri cal community Fandom Wank on LJ. This community, whose motto is We take fandom is fucking funny too far, is dedicated to the reportage and, even more importantly, mockery -of wank in any and all fandoms: wank, from the British and Australian slang term for masturbation, is defined as Self-aggrandizing 21 < http://www.fanhistory.com/ > Accessed October 2, 2006. Throughout this section, this sites timeline of the Potter fandom has proven useful.
49 posturing. Fannish absurdities. Circular ego-st roking. Endless flamewars. Pseudointellectual definitions.22 Upon observing wank, Fandom Wank deni zens (also known as Wankas, to distinguish themselves from the wankers bei ng mocked) write up a wan k report, with links to the wank, and post it to the community. R eaders trot over to observe the wank, and then this is crucial return to Fandom Wank to make fun of the wank. (Wankas are strictly prohibited from getting involved in the wankers space; trolling wa nks is a bannable offense.) While this seems a bit mean, and often is, in act ual practice Fandom Wank is to flamewars what Mystery Science Theater 3000 was to bad movies. Wankas treat fandom as a spectacle, and an absurd one at that; it is a key article of Wanka culture that everybody wanks, and no one, especially themselves, is immune from mockery. As of today, Fandom Wank, happily ensconced on Journalfen a blogging service anal ogous to LJ, henceforth abbreviated as JF -after being tossed from LJ for reasons never ad equately explained, has over 3500 members from a wide variety of fandoms, and is a major fixture in the online fannish landscape. Fandom Wank is important because, sooner or later, almost every fannish controversy winds up there, and will sometimes be rehashed in the comments to the wank report. Due to its multi-fandom membership base, fans can learn wh at people in fandoms other than their own are discussing or, this being Fandom Wank, fighting over. Like the London magazine Private Eye (or, indeed, Lingua Franca ), Fandom Wank reports the ne ws to mock it, but still reports Aside from often being screamingly funny, it rema ins one of the best sources for straight-up news in the fannish universe. If its on Fandom Wank, people are talking about it, and a search through the archives will reveal how often it has been talked about in the past three years, and in what contexts. There is no bette r record of the cyclical natu re of fannish controversies, 22 Fandom Wank profile. Accessed October 2, 2006. JF.
50 especially where fanfic is concerned: every so often, fans will refight why slash is good/bad, the ethics of writing incest/non-consensual sex/ underage sex, and the pr oper relationship of fandom to The Powers That Be. Potter fandom, due to its size, is such a reliable source of wank on these issues that it has been dubbed Old Faithful. 2003 was a busy year for the Potter fandom: Phoenix was finally released, and it broke the hearts of Sirius fans, confirmed the suspicions of Snape fans, and irritated the participants in the Great Shipper War for not resolving the conf lict Harry/Snape shi ppers, on the other hand, were thrilled. New characters such as Luna a nd Tonks quickly acquired large fan followings. In keeping with the darker tone of the series, mu ch of the fanfiction took a turn for the angsty; while angst had always been a popular genre, the events of Order made it even more relevant. In July 2003, the first major Harry Potter conference, Nim bus 2003, was held in Orlando, Florida. This event was designed to be a combination of academic conference and fan convention, and featured academic papers analyz ing the Potter books and my own academic presentations on the Potter fandom -alongside shipping debates and fanfiction readings; a major event was the panel debate Resolved: Can Draco Malfoy be Redeemed? in which I represented the hell, no! position. 2004 saw the release of the (e xcellent) film version of Azkaban and a rather widespread feeling of ennui within the fa ndom. While still producing mate rial on a volume that dwarfed other fandoms, some older fans felt that the fandom was becoming fat and lazy. In reality, increased fannish fragmentation meant that some of the subgroups that had formed the mainstream in the prePhoenix days were experiencing a tape ring off (such as the popular Harry/Draco ship, and Draco fandom in genera l), while other subgroups were experiencing dramatic growth. J.K. Rowlings official websit e debuted, with a section devoted to Fan Site
51 of the Month; the very first fan site she chose was Immeritus: The Sirius Black Fan Club23 a site which hosts fanfiction and fan art. The major event of 2005 was, of course, the release of Prince which rejuvenated the fandom, but also caused a major implosion in the Great Shipper War, when it was confirmed that Hermione and Ron were to become a c ouple. The Draco segment of the fandom found themselves back in play again after Dracos near-absence in Phoenix his return, with a key role in the denoument, no less, was welcomed. At present, major questions in the fandom include Which side is Snape really on? Is Harry going back to Hogwarts? Where (and what) are the remaining horcruxes? and Remus/ Tonks ? The hell? And le ts not forget the small but devoted clutch of Sirius fans invoking the soap-opera law of We havent seen a body, so he isnt really dead, w ho are also happy with the possibl e presence among the living of Sirius Blacks mysterious br other Regulus, which has cheered (and created) many a Blackcest writer. All of these issues and more were discussed at The Witching Hour: A Harry Potter Symposium (October 2005), for which I served as chair of academic programming; like Nimbus 2003, TWH was a combination of academic confer ence and fan convention, this time with an even greater emphasis on the academic, and featured a keynote address by Henry Jenkins. At present, fans are geari ng up for the release of Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on July 21, 2007 -a date which will mark an irrevocable change in Potter fandom, from an incomplete to a complete canon. As I have shown, Potter fandom is an enorm ous, sprawling, fragmented space; I wish now to discuss my own methodology, and my reasons fo r choosing the topics I wished to discuss. 23 < http://www.immeritus.org/ > Accessed July 23, 2007.
52 Methodology If youve read this far, you have probably picked up on some of my preoccupations, most notably a desire to treat fanficti on as literature in its own right. However, fanfiction is literature produced within a specific community, and a full a ppreciation of the nuan ces of the literature requires an understanding of the community fr om whence it sprang. Therefore, I have combined literary and ethnographic approaches, disc ussing fanfiction genres and specific stories in terms of both aesthetics and community contex t, whether that community consists of a tiny group of writers who all know each other (Weasleycest) or forms a dominant discourse across the fandom as a whole (slash). My primary area of folklore research prior to this project was the European fairy tale canon, and that field of studys combination of literary and folkloristic considerations formed the model for my own approach. The World Wide Web, where words exist in a nebulous space between or al and written text, is an ideal location in which to consider these issues. So, how, in a fandom so large, did I choos e which fanfiction, and which subgroups, I wished to discuss? Well, I knew that attempting survey the entire fandom would be a task of Sisyphean proportions. So I deci ded to invoke the discourse of auto-ethnography (see Chapter 3), and let my own fannish experiences be my gui de. Ive come into cont act with a wide crosssection of fans, of all ages and most ships, in my five years in the fandom; while many of my own fannish tastes tend to the distinctly subcu ltural (Weasleycest!), my love of slash and of several popular het ships, including Ron/Hermione, kept me in contact with more mainstream elements of the fandom, and my work on the conferences Nimbus 2003, The Witching Hour, and Phoenix Rising brought me into contact with many famous early Potter fans, especially those within the Draco sector s. In addition, my longtime membership in Fandom Wank has kept me abreast of developments in the fandom at large, albeit in a somewhat skewed way,
53 given the nature of the community. I admit up front that I know far more about het and slash fic than I do about gen (non-romantic ) fic; Ive read more fic about the Hogwarts students than about their teachers; and I am only somewhat fa miliar with Snape-fic, James/Lily, fic about Slytherins other than Draco or Marcus Flint, and werewolf porn. Ive read a few Mary Sue stories (authorial self-inserts, of the beautiful American excha nge student comes to Hogwarts and all the authors favorite characters fall in lo ve with her variety) in my time, but had no desire to revisit them; besides, a number of scholars have catal oged Mary Sue in her appearances historical (Pflieger) and contempor ary (Jenkins, Bacon-Smith, Willis). Before I began this project, I was a fan, and, like all fans I customized my fannish experience to suit my own tastes and affinities. This is not to say that I have limited my consideration of Potter fanfiction to stuff I like -if I had, there woul dnt be a Draco chapter. But one must begin somewhere, and the fiction and subgroups I knew the most about seemed as good a starting place as any. By focusing upon fanfiction as literature, and by letting my own fannish interests guide me, I hope to lay the groundwork for a more emic form of fandom studies. Fans spend a great deal of time reading, writing, editing and discus sing their stories within a variety of intrafandom affinity groups, and I wanted to capture the flavor of that fannish love of the micro. To that end, and following the example of Green, Jenki ns, and Jenkins in Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking, I have relied extensively upon quotations from fans, in order that my voice not be the only one the reader hears. I also circ ulated a draft of this di ssertation among fans, and have benefited enormously from their feedback, which ranged from fact corrections to reading suggestions to analysis and clarifica tion of the project as a whole.
54 Before plunging in to the rest of my disserta tion, a brief note on ethics and citation issues is called for. There are two sc hools of thought with regard to th e nature of online statements, the private and the public. Academics of th e private school feel th at online words are the property of their owners, and shoul d not be used by researchers w ithout the informed consent of the speakers; those of the publi c school feel that posting online is the equivalent of making a public statement (Hine Ethnography 23-4). At The Witching H our, the panel Telling Tales Out of School addressed this issue from a va riety of disciplinary perspectives, with some panelists taking the private line and arguing that fandom studies is human subjects research that requires the informed consent of those bei ng studied, and other pane lists taking the public line, and arguing that publicly acce ssible online material should be treated as any other form of published text. My own sympathies lie with th e public school, and not simply because the publishing and journalism industries tend to under stand publicly available online material as published, even if not-for-profit; I am interested in fanfiction as literature, and the fannish discourse surrounding fanfic as lite rary review and cri ticism. I think too strong an insistence on the private, human-subjects rubric for all st udies of fandom may, by fi xing the fan solely as ethnographic subject, diminish or eliminate c onsideration of the fan as writer and artist.24 However, when dealing with online fandom, one runs into the issue of what counts as publicly accessible. Its easy to see that one should get fan c onsent to quote from a private forum, mailing list, or archive, and equally easy to argue that one does not need consent to quote material posted on a major public archive like FF. N, but what about LJ, where a great deal of my fannish experience has taken place? Obviousl y, an entry that is locked only to those users the journal owner has listed as friends requi res consent, but what about so-called public 24 See also Ess.
55 entries? Yes, such entries are indeed publicly accessible, but in many cases, the journal owner does not think of his/her posts this way, even if s/he knows it intellectually. To deal with these issues, I have adopte d a middle road. While I do believe publicly available material does indeed count as published and that it woul d be perfectly ethical to treat it as such, I am a member of this community, not simply as a researcher, but as a fellow fan, and I dont believe it is really my duty to demand th at all fans I wish to quote agree with my position. I have therefore decide d to err on the side of caution, and have requested permission from all fans (who could be identified) whose words I wish to quote. Indeed, if a fan is mentioned by name, I have his/her permission to do so. I have cited fans throughout by their chosen online handles under which they have published their stories a nd commentary; another reason for requesting permission was to give fans some of whom fear discovery of some of their more outr material by non-fans, the opportu nity to request a pseudonym that is, one different from their usual online handle; pseudon yms assigned by me at the fans request are set off with quotation marks. In some cases, the name a fan commonly writes under is not the same as his/her LJ or JF user name (i.e., the LJ us er name for fan Jane Doe may be Dracoluvr69); I have used the name the fan prefers, as in mo st cases fans are easily traceable under their pen names to LJ, often via a link on their websites or archive author pages a nd vice versa, as most fans LJ profile pages contai n links to their websites and/ or archive author pages. LJ (and JF) citations themselves proved tric ky, for the reasons mentioned above; I have elected to follow the example set by Hellekson a nd Busse, and have listed the abbreviation of the journal site (such as LJ) rather than posting the URLs to specific blogs or blog entries. I have kept full URLs in my own records, but this method seemed to me the best means of balancing accurate citation with protection of fan privacy. Comments made by one fan on
56 another fans journal are cited as Fan X. Co mment on Fan Ys LJ. Date. Date accessed. LJ. In a few cases, fans have given me permission to quote their comments on another fans LJ, but the LJ owner could not be reached; in those situ ations, the citation reads Fan X. Comment on LJ. Date. Date accessed. LJ. Posts to LJ and JF communities, such as Fandom Wank, read as such: Fan X. Comment on Fandom Wank. Date Date accessed. JF. Likewise, I have usually linked to the main page of fanfiction archiv es and fans personal we bsites, rather than to specific stories; the main page usually contains all the fandom disclaimers (not my characters, not for profit, I have no money, dont sue) arch ives (identified by abbreviations) and author sites (abbreviated AS in footnotes ) are listed in the bi bliography. From the main pages, specific stories are easy to find, by utilizing the Sear ch function on archives or by clicking on the appropriate link (often labeled Fiction) on personal websites. A note on terminology: for the most part, I wi ll explain fandom terms as they arise, but a couple bear explaining at the outs et, as they will come up early a nd often. Potterverse refers to the tale world of the Harry Potter series the fictional univer se created by J.K. Rowling. (Potterdom refers to the Potter fandom.) Wi zarding World, often abbreviated WW, is the wizard-controlled portion of th at universe, as distinguished from the Muggle World. Therefore, one might see an essay entitled Overlaps Between th e Wizarding World and Muggle World in the Potterverse. Now, at last, we come to th e rest of this dissertation. Chapter 2, Sexual Perversity at Hogwarts, discusses romance and pornography in Potter fanfiction, as well as the concept of shipping (fans devotion to pa rticular romantic pairings). This is the chapter in which th e notion of the Potter books as be ing for and about children and adolescents becomes paramount: Potter fandom ha s been the site of pi tched battles over the
57 forms representation of teenage romance and se xuality should take especially given the number of children and teenagers who particip ate in the fandom. The gendered nature of participatory fandom is key; fans who wrot e graphically sexual stories were usually characterized by opponents as uncaring rather than actively pedophiliac. Chapter 3, Mucking About With Malfoy: The Transformation of Draco, is a study of fanfictional role played by Harrys schoolboy ne mesis his Flashman, as it were -Draco Malfoy; a character who, according to the numbe rs on FF.N, is second in popularity only to Harry and Hermione. Many early Potter fan writ ers were interested in Draco; I will discuss several of these key Draco st ories in depth, and discuss their impact not only on the development of Fanon Draco (a wildly different creature than his canon incarnation), but on the fandom as a whole. This chapter also enga ges with the concept of my own so-called dual consciousness as both academic and fan: as an academic, I am fascinated by the historical development of Draco narratives, but as a fan, I ha ve an enormous dislike for Draco in all his incarnations. These apparently competing impulse s inspired me to take a closer look at the categories academic and fan, so often posited as binary oppos ites, and to examine my own negotiations of these categories. Chapter 4, Subtext in Hiding: Slash Fanficti on, is concerned with homoerotic stories in the Potterverse. Slash has garnered a great deal of scholarly attention, much of it problematic or pathologizing; due to this, slash fans are often the quickest to enga ge with and criticize scholarly accounts of fandom. In contrast to earlier scholarly characterizat ions of slash as an isolated subgenre, slash is arguably the dominant form of Potter fanfic. I posit that the setting of the Potter series in a British boarding school, a locati on consistently coded as queer space in folk and literary traditions, has influenced the mainstreaming of slash in this fandom.
58 Chapter 5, Keeping It in the Family, is a ca se study in the joys of the micro. I examine a form of Potter fanfiction which, with the main streaming of slash, has taken over some of its isolated subgenre coding, and would be consider ed too weird for a macro-theorist to bother with, but is yet an important face t of this particular fandom: inces t stories. These fics, usually involving the Weasley or Malfoy families, are of ten self-consciously literary and of a high artistic caliber; accordingly, this is the most lite rary-oriented of my chapters, with an in-depth look at incest narratives in folk lore and literature especially narratives suggested by the Potter books themselves -and the ways in which fanf iction writers invoke thos e narratives in their own stories. Finally, Epilogue: Potterdammerung, or, the Wankalypse is Nigh, reflects on the present moment, which hovers on the brink of i rrevocable change in the Potter fandom: the imminent release of the seventh and final book in the series. At that point, the fandom will move from an open canon to a closed canon, and will mark the end of an era. I will speculate on what the future holds for the development of Po tter fanfiction, with reference to pre-existing Potter fic trends and the examples set by other closed-canon fandoms such as Lord of the Rings
59 CHAPTER 2 SEXUAL PERVERSITY AT HOGWARTS People make too much fuss about sex. And this wank isn't even about real sex. --Darkslash1 By far, the majority of Potter fanfic con cerns romance, whether heterosexual (het) or homosexual (slash). How, then, does the di scourse of romance and its seamy sister, pornography operate within Potter fanfiction? And how do these discourses operate with regards to the Potter books stat us as texts published for young peopl e, and the presence of so many young people within the fandom? Fanfiction, in Jenkinss estimation, satisfies desires that are not being satisfied by the source text, particularly, and mo st importantly for my discussi on, for sexual representation. The chapter will explore the implications of when those desires, which our culture insists are the sole province of adults, come into contact with a te xt for children and/or teenagers. When the interpretive community includes children, adol escents, and adults, where are the lines of demarcation drawn between appropriate and ina ppropriate discourse? And how do fans of all ages manifest, negotiate, and challenge the cultural assumptions about childrens and Young Adult (YA) literature, and childre ns and adolesce nts sexuality? Jacqueline Rose famously questioned a ssumptions about childhood and adolescence implied by the treatment of childrens literatu re as a meaningful, definable genre, when childrens and YA lit is controlled, at every stage of the game, by adults (1-12). The very idea of childrens literature is bound up with the concept of this idea l child whom th e literature is supposedly for; but that child is constructed by adults, as a vehicle for adult fantasies and desires about children and childhood and as su ch, is also fraught w ith adult anxieties, 1 Comment on Fandom Wank. January 9, 2004. Accessed February 28, 2007. JF.
60 particularly regarding sexuality. So childrens literature must satisfy both the perceived desires of this ideal child (a category it has constructed in the first place), but also the adult desire to police both child and childrens literature. Childr ens literature is, then, like children themselves and moreover, like fans -figured in terms of lack : lack of sophisticated language, lack of complicated themes, and most especially lack of sexual desire. If a story includes sex, even nonexplicit sex, its not appropriate for children, as se x is solely the domain of adults. However, as James Kincaid has noted, this absence of sexu ality innocence is not simple absence, but a complex adult fantasy, and an erotic one: t he idea of innocence and th e idea of the child became dominated by sexuality negative sexuality, of course, but sexuality all the same (55). If innocence is figured as desirable, then it follo ws that those who possess it are also desirable, be they blushing virgin brides or children at play. Adolescence (or young adulthood, a term that gives with one hand and takes away with the other) and its literature, does, albeit grudgingly, allow a space for sexual consciousness, and the discourse shifts from blanket condemnation to strategies for containment. Our cultures relationship with adolescent se xuality is complex and contra dictory: on the one hand, we valorize the youth and beauty, th e erotic appeal, of teenager s, and often wink at horny teenagers sexual escapades on te levision and film; on the other ha nd, there is a great deal of hand-wringing about containing teenage sexuality within parameters acceptable to adult sensibilities.2 The literature aimed at teenage audiences reflects this tension; Roberta Seelinger Trites argues that adolescent literature is as often an ideological tool used to curb teenagers libido as it is some sort of de piction of what adolescents sexual ity actually is (85). While YA 2 See Thomas Hine and Neubauer for discussion of these issues.
61 literature has gradually allowed itself to become more sexually explicit3, there is still a strong imperative towards pedagogy inculcating correct attitudes about sexuality to an audience deemed in need of education. Trites expresses frustration, a frus tration I also share, at the overwhelming emphasis in our discourses concer ning sexuality in general, but adolescent sexuality in particular, upon repression rather than jouissance (95). Potter fanfiction is, first, a discourse that operates outside of institutional paradigms that control childrens and YA literature; it is not bound, unlike the Potter books themselves, within publishing conventions that oblig ate it to contain sexuality with in parameters of age (of the characters and readers) or of pedagogy it is free to focus upon jouissance This has been a source of some friction within and without the Potter fandom; so me have wondered if there is something inherently dodgy about writing sexually e xplicit fanfiction about a childrens series, if it is a childrens series. A co mmon move made by those who defend erotic Potter fanfic is to argue that the series is now firmly in the realm of YA literature, and therefore depictions of sex (even considering institutional pa radigms) are not inappropriate; the characters will be 17 or 18 by the end of the series, and over the age of cons ent in the UK (16). Other fans dismiss such concerns, pointing out that the Potter books have many adult reader s; while still others take a reader-response tack and argue that it matters not a whit what the author or publisher intended about the series, because fans of all ages and proclivities have hold of it now. As has been pointed out by a number of fans, graphic depictions of teenage sexuality are hardly unusual in published literature for adults even graphic depictions of chil drens sexuality are not without precedent, as Stephen Kings bestselling novel It attests -and therefor e fanfiction is not doing anything intrinsically ou tr in that regard. 3 See Stone for some recent examples and discussion.
62 An interesting counterpoint to these questions within the Potter fandom can be found in the hoopla surrounding the publication of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbies Lost Girls a graphic novel recounting the erotic ad ventures of Alice (from Alice in Wonderland ), Wendy (from Peter Pan ), and Dorothy (from The Wizard of Oz ). The three women meet in a hotel at the Swiss border in 1913, and tell their stories of sexual aw akening, stories that bear a striking resemblance to the famous novels featuring thei r comparably tamer adventures. Lost Girls is both a serious examination of desire, fantasy, and, as Moore puts it, the human sexual imagination, but is also, unabashedly, a work of pornography st unning, beautifully rendered pornography that draws its inspiration from the written and visual erotic material of the Victorian and Edwardian periods (Beardsley and Schiele are referenced wi thin the illustrations). Moore and Gebbie posit their hotel as a pornotopia (a la Stephen Ma rcus) where any and all sexual desires can be fulfilled, and not simply the socially acceptable ones incest and sex with children are also described: if we wanted to talk honestly about pornography, we had to include all of it. We had to be comprehensive. We couldn't brush anything th at was currently socially uncomfortable under the carpet, because that would not have been being true to the idea behind the work. The work was an exploration of erotica, of pornography, and more importantly, of the human sexual imagination. That is obviously which wanders all over the place, and which can never be legislated ag ainst. (Brady Part 2) Moore and Gebbie use Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy, three fantasies who famously do not exist, to explore the nature of fantasy itself, includ ing the fantasy of childhood, and what it means to grow up. Regarding the appropriateness of writing pornography about characters from childrens books, Moore states [w]e wished to simply expand upon them. Any story about a child carries the implication that the child will eventually grow up. It seemed like fair game to speculate upon the perfectly normal part of every human life, th at these characters would have experienced if their narratives had been extended beyond the childhood that was represented in the original books. (Brady Part 1)
63 This is a position with obvious relevance to Potter fandom, and a number of fans have anticipated and echoed Moores argu ments, which also emphasize the fictitious nature of literary texts like Lost Girls or fanfiction: all char acters involved, no matter thei r age, are fictional, and all acts depicted, no matter how depraved, are also fictional: no real people are being hurt in any way. The representation of teenage, or underage, sexu ality in Potter fanfic varies considerably, depending upon the story, the pairing, the character, and the fan. Certain general patterns seem to hold for the portrayal of underage sexuality in the fandom; in particular, many stories, prior to Phoenix that concerned Harry and his classmates tend to age up the characters to at least sixteen. While this served the purpose of rendering the characters engage ment in sexual activity more palatable or defensible, its im portant to note that this aging up doesnt have to be considered as such, but more as a practical narrative necessity, 'picking up wh ere the books left off' for that 3 year period [between the publication of Goblet and Phoenix ]. 4 As the characters have aged in canon, there has been a dropping off of concern over them being depicted, in fanfic, as sexual beings; however, prior to Prince wank about representation of unde rage characters engaged in sex bubbled up on a semi-regular basis. Potter fans=pedophiles is something of a r unning joke in the fando m, particularly the contingent that frequents Fandom Wank; however, the charge has indeed been leveled, with varying degrees of seriousness, at the Potter fandom as a whol e, and many fans have thought seriously about the topic. The overwhelmi ng response seems to be no: while it is acknowledged that pedophiles exis t and that some may alight in the Potter fandom, there is nothing intrinsically pedoph ilic about the fandom itself, even the more sexually explicit bits. As 4 Heidi. Comment in Catja Mikhailovics LJ. Nove mber 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ.
64 Idlerat says, I do think there are some psychol ogically unhealthy people in fandom, but that doesn't make fandom psychologically unhealthy.5 There are a certain number of fanfics that do not follow the age-up pattern, and are broken down by a fan thus: a) [stories] written by people who were themse lves teenagers, and therefore not all that concerned about assuring us they weren't pedophiles (see: FF.N, esp. before the NC-17 purge); b) non-kinkfic abuse narratives like L/D [Lucius/Draco] c) Tom/Ginny, which is canonically bound to her first year; and d) chan, which includes kinkfic abuse narratives with an underaged abusee, and is a specific subgenre (as opposed to a generalized fandom phenomenon) which tends to squick lots of people, though not me.6 The final category, chan, is a genre of stor ies concerning graphic, but highly stylized, descriptions of underage sexualit y, that often appears to owe a great deal of its conventions to those of Japanese anime and manga (Browne notes that chan translates roughly to little and cute in Japanese). Chan usually means that at least one character is thirteen and under, or prepubescent (fifteen and up is rarely considered chan); the only famous chan story in the Potter fandom is Aspens If That Mockingbird Wont Sing,7 an AU Snape/Harry in which the figures of youthful innocence and tor tured experience are not only stylized, but so cheerfully, deliberately over-the-top that it f unctions as a parody of those ro les and our expected responses to them. Chans overt stylization is not to everyones taste, and the genre is a small part of the general Potter fandom discourse of representati ons of underage sexualit y, though one that often crops up in fan discussions about that general topic. During one such discussion, Del phi, echoing Kincaid, remarked: [This] view assumes that any sexualization of children has been completely imposed by adults. I'm not that far-off from being a kiddi e, myself. I remember the things that my 5 Idlerat. Comment in Catja Mikhailovics LJ. No vember 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ. 6 Catja Mikhailovic. November 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ. 7 Aspen. Before June 2003. Accessed July 22, 2007. AS. (locked)
65 friends and I got up to. Just because childrens' literature (and most of society) has chosen to greatly tidy up the view of what really goes on in the mind of a child, doesn't make the reality any different. That said, of course I'm not condoning acts of violence (sexual or otherwise) against any child. But it' s a very murky area, a nd not confronting all sides of it just makes it worse.8 Melannen takes on the issue of Potter as chil drens text, and relates it to fanfictional depictions of underage sexuality: One of the things that most fascinated me about HP when I first read it (I must have been about 15 or 16 at the time)was the realization that this was a children's series where she was actually going to age the characters up a year with every book, and they'd be 17 or 18 by the end. [T]his 11-year-old boy eating chocolate on the train was going to grow up into a sexual being. He'd be older than me by the time the series ended, and there was no way an author with JKR's apparent ability and bravery was going to be able to avoid dealing with [sex] while writing from the P OV of a 17-year-old boy. That future horny teenage Harry would be the same character Herm ione hugs and tells he has heart that was an incredible turn-on to me.9 Cathexys asked, regarding depictions of undera ge sexuality, is there a difference between having private fantasies and shar ing them? Are there or ought there be limits to what we write about and imagine?10 In response, Rat Creature brings up the issue of thought crime, and the impossibility of punishing someone for it: [I]s something child pornography because a child molester gets off on it? I mean, someone could also get off on cute family baby pictures another person posts on the web, and yet nobody would think you posted child pornography because you posted your family photos. Personally I think the only way "child pornography" makes sense as a (criminal) category (you coul d obviously discuss at length various cultural/theoretical aspects of sexualization/sexuality of children for the benefit of adults and/or other children) is if it involves and harms real children, b ecause ultimately I'm far more uncomfortable with the "thought crime" approach to child pornography than with chan.11 Kai also points out certain generic conve ntions that often apply not simply to representations of underage se x, but to pornography in general: 8 Delphi. Cooment on LJ. December 3, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. LJ. 9 Melannen. Comment on LJ. December 3, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. LJ. 10 Cathexys. December 3, 2003. Accessed February 26, 2007. LJ. (locked post) 11 Rat Creature. Comment on Cathexyss LJ. December 3, 2003. Accesse d February 26, 2007. LJ. (locked post)
66 There are also significant subge nres of original amateur fi ction that feature fictional "children" who are actually stand-ins for the a dult readers (thinking spec ifically of a lot of spanking fic, not to mention infantilization, age-regression, and sissi fication stories). A person who is not versed in the various genr es would likely come along and be horrified! Many might think that the stor ies "glorify" or "promote" rape, incest, child molestation, torture, etc. People who understand th e genre would not be so fooled.12 Wont Someone Think of the Children? Before we go much further, I feel I should clar ify my position with regards to these issues. As might be obvious by this point, I valu e fandom for the freedom it affords from institutionalized discourses of sexuality. I be lieve in art in general as a safe space for the expression of any fantasy one wi shes; as long as no live human beings are being made to suffer against their will in the creation of art, anything goes. I believe sexual desire and fantasy the human sexual imagination -is not something that can or should be policed. I think fandom provides a good space for the working out of fantasy in a safe, supportive, essentially tolerant atmosphere; I believe this is especially be neficial for women, queer folk, and young people, whose desires have traditionally been the most s ubject to cultural attempts at containment. I believe that intellectual and artistic freedom fr eedom to read, freedom to write should not be the sole reserve of those over the age of majority, and that decisi ons about what is appropriate should be made by individuals parents and child ren for themselves and those in their care, rather than leaving it to lawmakers. I arrive at these from a variety of perspectives: as a feminist, as a humanist, as a queer person, as a writer, as an educator, as a consumer (and sometime producer) of pornography, as a child who grew up in a house full of bodice-rippers that I was never forbidde n to read, as a fan. Wont someone think of the children! is a rally ing cry heard all across the Internet; in the Potter fandom, the issue of minors access to pornographic fan material is as reliable a source of 12 kai. Comment on Cathexyss LJ. December 3, 2003. Accessed February 26, 2007. LJ. (locked post)
67 argument as the representation of minors in porn ographic material. Even in arguments about chan, fans rarely accuse one another of actively being pe dophiles; the primarily female membership of fandom does not fit with general cultural conceptions of pedophilia. Rather, the rhetoric in this female-dominated space tends to hinge upon issues of caring as in, Dont you care if some innocent child comes along and is expos ed to your filthy smut? Controversies of this sort appear regularly within many fandoms but the issue of childrens access to naughty fanfiction is heightened by Potter s status as a text marketed to children; there is a genuine concern on the part of some fans that child ren searching the Internet for general Potter information not unexpectedly encounter something raunchy. However, the vast majority of fanfiction disp lays warnings for gra phic sex, underage sex, incest, non-consensual sex, and anything else likel y to be considered objectionable, thus making it easy for readers to avoid (or find) fics that do not (or do) suit their tastes; this warning system is an ingrained element of fannish codes of courtesy. In addition, a system based upon the MPAA movie ratings is almost universally empl oyed or was, until the MPAA decided that fanficcers use of this rating system was in vi olation of its trademark, and sent a Cease and Desist letter to a Potter fanfiction site13 -nowadays, alternate but e quivalent ratings systems are used. In essence, this means that, while findi ng the filthy smut is not especially difficult, accessing the filthy smut requires proactivity on the pa rt of the reader, who will invariably be asked to click yes on at least one, and often seve ral, statements that one is old enough to read such material. There is no way to prove ones age on the Internet, particularly on not-for-profit sites that do not ask for a credit card, such as fanfiction archiv es; even friends-locking a LJ post 13 See MPAA Gives FanFic Site a Bad Review. Chilling Ef fects. March 17, 2005. Accessed February 21, 2007. < http://www.chillingeffect s.org/trademark/noti ce.cgi?NoticeID=1782 >
68 or password-protecting a site is no guarantee that minors will not be able to access adult material. As WishWords noted, every author I've seen who has ever decided to password protect their site has done so, not to keep underage readers from access, but to protect their own hides from lawsuits and angry parents. Password protec tion is not a preventative, it's a CYA [cover your ass] move.14 The most famous CYA move in Potter fa ndom was made by Restri ctedSection.org, an archive devoted to NC-17 (excuse me, Mature or Adult) stories. RS received a cease-anddesist letter from Warner Brothe rs (which owns the rights to th e Potter novels), claiming that Rowling herself was disturbed by sexually explic it fanfiction, and demand ing that RS remove all such material and cease making it available on the internet [sic] or by any other means.15 The letter was initially suspected of not being ge nuine; it was sent on behalf of J.K. Rowlings, and though sent in 2003, it is dated January 13, 2002 an error, as RS did not exist at that time. However, it did turn out to be real, and claimed: There is plainly a very real risk that impre ssionable children, who of course comprise the principal readership of the Harry Potter books will be directed (e.g. by a search engine result) to your sexually explicit web site, which you will appreciate most right-minded people would consider wholly inappropriate for minors. Plainly the warnings to the effect that children under 18 should not access your we bsite do not in fact prevent minors from doing so. Indeed, such warnings may well serve simply to entice teenagers to your site. After a certain amount of wrangling, RS agreed to place the site under password protection. While this certainly will not pr event minors from lyi ng about their ages, it does place the onus for underage viewing of the site solely upon the minors themselves. Rowling, if she was indeed behind the Cease and Desist, appears to have ma de her peace with the existence of explicit stories; as mentioned in the previous chapter, one year later she named Immeritus a site which hosts some adult fanfiction (among other things) as the first recipient of he r Fan Site award. 14 WishWords. Comment in Ajas LJ. January 14, 2004. Accessed February 19, 2007. LJ. 15 Chilling Effects. Accessed February 10, 2007. < http://www.chillingeffects.org/fanfic/notice.cgi?NoticeID=522 >
69 While there are more than enough fans who object to the writing of various forms of fanfic (underage, non-consensual, and incest are the most common targets) to keep Fandom Wank fat and happy, on the whole, fans tend to be tole rant when it comes to production of sexually explicit material, and usually argue that the respon sibility for protecting innocent children lies with those childrens parents, as opposed to random strangers on the Internet. Pantheas comments sum up this attitude: IT IS NOT MY JOB TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE. Make that "SAFE". Because if some Poor!Impressionable!Child! is browsing the internet unchaperoned and finds some not-so-nice fic I've written, that's his or her parents' fault. [M]ost badnastywrong fic is disclaimed as such, and I've yet to meet someone who lives thei r life according to the morals of smut fanfic they read on the internet It all comes down to: If a child needs protecting from the Big Bad World, IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANYONE EXCEPT THAT CHILD'S PARENTS. Believe it or not, making life harder for those of us who aren't young and impressionable is not going to make the world a better place.16 This fannish response stems from long e xposure to popular rhetoric concerning the vulnerability of children -es pecially girls -to pornogra phy, especially pornography on the Internet. Juffer points out that most government attempts to regulate porn regularly invoke the image of a vulnerable little girl traumatized by an invasion of porn, wh ich should be limited to circulation in the public (male) sphere, into the feminine sanctu ary of the home which thus requires mothers (not fathers) to be ever-vigil ant, to protect the sanc tity of not just the home/private sphere, but also of wo mens place within it (Juffer 34-7).17 Of course, the fact that the Internet allows easy access to pornography fro m the privacy of ones own home makes it all the more insidious, and ever-more-elaborate schemes from Net Na nnies to the various iterations of the Childrens Online Protection Act -are devised to protect innocent children from 16 Panthea. Comment on Fandom Wank. Januar y 13, 2004. Accessed February 11, 2007. JF. 17 Also see Driscoll 81.
70 filthy smut. Some fans have little patience wi th such measures, and credit childrens own quite adequate self-censoring capabilities: I just recently released my 8 year old daughter upon the intern et. And I'm not even worried. Why? Because she self-censors better than anyone I know. [I]f she DID stumble across one of these chan-noncon-best iality-incest extravaganzas, she'd read a paragraph, scream EWWW and click the Back button as quick as she could.18 However, there is another wrinkle to the que stion of minors access to dirty fanfic: as Ataniell put it, Are you aware that there are people [writing pornography] who are under 17 themselves? How do you propose to protect them from themselves?19 A number of talented writers in the Potter fandom, including V (whose True but Not Nice will be discussed below), began writing fanfiction, sometimes pornographic fanfiction, well before the age of 18. While an honest minor may be barred from accessing site s like RS, or the 17-an d-older stories on FA, there is nothing preventing her from creating an LJ (which requires users to be 13 and older), and uploading adult fanfiction there. The entire debate of protecti ng minors from dirty fanfic is complicated by the presence of said minors, wh o are often producing the very material that others wish to protect them from and are not shy about speaking up in defense of their artistic and intellectual freedoms. There is also a tacit unders tanding that if a minor cannot figure out that a) sites that host porn disallow minors fo r the sites own protection, and b) no one can ascertain her age on the Internet, she doesnt dese rve to access the porn. This fits in with the general fannish preference for ta king responsibility for ones ow n desires and kinks. The existence of controversies along the axis of children and exposure to dirty fanfic taps into our cultures general willi ngness to construct children (and to a lesser extent, teens) as a uniquely vulnerable audience; the Internet, which has enabled young people to access 18 Ailei. Comment in Ajas LJ. January 14, 2004. Accessed February 11, 2007. LJ. 19 Ataniell. January 14, 2004. Accessed February 11, 2007. LJ. (locked)
71 information and communicate with other young people and adults at an unprecedented level, has sharpened those anxieties. Valerie Walkerdine s examination of children and cyberspace is especially relevant here: The importance of the twin issues of the ma ss medium and the vulnerable and suggestible mind cohere to produce a social psychology and a psychopathology of groups in which mass irrationality and suggestibility have a central place. (235) Irrationality and suggestibility these are qualities assigned not ju st to children, but to fans as well. It is interesti ng that fannish anxieties about the representation of sexually explicit material is not confined to fandoms like Harry Potter, which has a vi sible demographic of vulnerable young people, but also to fandoms whose demographics skew older. As was mentioned in Chapter 1, debates about the morality of representing certain sex acts, or sex with any degree of explicitness, in fanfiction springs up regularly, as Fandom Wank teaches us. In fandoms whose source texts are ai med at adults, these debates, lacking the visible presence of children as a constructed vulnerable audien ce, often fall back on vague notions of responsibility in fanfictional re presentations of things like in cest or nonconsensual sex. These debates can get especially heate d, as many adult fans who read and write such stories resent being constructed as irrational a nd suggestible, and often point out that the depiction of such sex acts is hardly unusual in published fiction for adults, as bodice-ri pping romances, V.C. Andrewss romantic incest stories, and a decent chunk of the contents of the erotica section at Borders will attest. I believe the high incidence of these debates has to do with anxiety about the extreme accessibility, to read and write, offe red by the Internet; comm ercial publication is controlled by the cultural elite, which le nds published texts a comforting veneer of respectability, no matter how seamy the subject matter, or how joyfully, erotically, or sympathetically illegal sex acts are portrayed people whose class and educational privilege
72 enable them to safely read questionable materi al have deemed it fir for the rest of us. But fanfiction published on the In ternet has no such top-dow n vetting process. Shipping, or, H.M.S. What the Hell? Fannish desires and kinks are expressed most visibly and vociferously through the process of asserting ones preference for particular roman tic pairings over other ro mantic pairings; in the Potter fandom, the enormous number of possible pa irings, and the various artistic and ideological tropes that develop around partic ular pairings, makes these disc ussions especially heated. Ive been using the term shipping throughout th e previous chapter; now is a good time to expand upon the topic. Shipping, is, as noted earlier, short for rela tionshipping; the term originates in X-Files fandom, where a shipper was a fa n who desired Mulder/Scully romance (see Browne). Shipping a pair ing indicates that you have a st rong preference for that pairing as opposed to other pairings; however, that preference can take on a variety of nuances, including I enjoy readin g/writing this pairing in fanfic, I want this pairing to happen in canon, I believe this pairing will happen in can on, and I want it to, or If this pairing does not happen in canon, Ill take a hit out on the creator s. Shipping is understood as a rather strong response; casual readers of the Potter texts w ho believe that, say, Ron and Hermione will get together, and thats cute, would not usually be called shippers. Ships are often designated simply by listing th e characters names together, separated by a slash mark: Hermione/Ron, Lucius/Draco, Sn ape/Giant Squid. Unlike anime/manga fandoms, where name order in a same-sex pairing can indi cate which character is the top and which the bottom, there is no consistent rule for name order in most Western ship names. Namesmooshes are also fairly common, if the names can take it Sna rry (Snape/Harry) is the most widely used. Potter fandom, specifically Fiction Alley, is unique in the conceit of naming ships as if they were actual ships, as in boats H.M.S. Cutesy Ship Name. Some ship names are
73 descriptive (H.M.S. Puppylove Remus/Sirius, H.M.S. Fire and Ice Ginny/Draco), some refer to popular fanfics (H.M.S. Pumpki n Pie Harry/Hermione), and some are hilarious (H.M.S. The Government Stole My Toad Neville/Luna).20 Shipping that is centered ar ound fanfictional preferences te nds not to cause too much friction, unless the ship taps into cultural taboos (such as incest ). However, shipping tied to hopes for validation in the canon is quite possibly the single most reliab le source of wank in fandom as a whole: when it comes to canon, there is the potential for shippers to be right (their ship is validated by canon) or wr ong (their ship does not happen). When two or more ships are in competition for canonical validation, shipping wars result usually, in most mainstream media, among rival het ships.21 Potter fandom is noted for one of the most ferocious canon shipping wars in fandom history: Ron/Hermione (and Harry/Ginny22) vs. Harry/Hermione.23 At stake were two competing narratives of romance; the Harry/Hermione shippers preferred a story of platonic friendship that gradually grows into love, while Ron/Hermione shippers favored the bickering lovers model. (What tended to get lo st in the shuffle was that Harry and Hermione also bicker, especially in Phoenix and Ron and Hermione are also friends.) Each side accused the other of being clichd. Ron/Hermione canon shippers questioned the reading skills of the Harry/Hermione faction; the Harry/Hermione canon shippers insi sted that what appeared to be Ron/Hermione moments in the text were merely red herrings intended to lead astray nave and ignorant readers (i.e., Ron/Hermione shippers). As noted in Chapter 1, the debate among the 20 My personal favorite is H.M.S. Beel zeblubber (Voldemort/Mr. Dursley). As a ship name, not an actual pairing. 21 Occasionally, a slash ship will make its way into a major canon shipping war: in the fandom for the television series House M.D. the major rivalry is between House/Wilson (a slash ship) and House/Cameron (a het ship). 22 Those two ships combined are often referred to as OBHWF: One Big Happy Weasley Family. 23 The usual proposed solution to the ship war was H.M.S. Menage a Trio: Harry/Ron/Hermione.
74 canon shippers had become so bitter that no t even canon resolution, and confirmation from Rowling herself, ended it indeed, Prince and an interview Rowling gave afterwards, only made it worse. In this interview w ith two fans, Melissa Anelli, who runs The Leaky Cauldron24 and Emerson Spartz, who runs Mugglenet25 -Rowling confirmed that not only were the romantic pairings Ron/Hermione and Harry /Ginny, but that they had always been so: ES: We thought it was clearer than ever th at Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione although we think you made it pa infully obvious in the first five books JKR: [points to herself and whispers] So do I! ES: What was that? JKR: [More loudly] Well so do I! So do I! ES: Harry/Hermione shippers delusional! JKR: Well no, I'm not going to Emerson, I am not going to say they're delusional! They are still valued members of my readership! I am not going to use the word delusional. I am however, going to say I will say, that yes, I personally feel well it's going to be clear once people have read book six. I mean, thats it Its done, isnt it? We know. Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy hints. ANVIL-sized, actually, hints, prior to this point. (Anelli and Spartz Part 2) While most Harry/Hermione shippers took th e canon sinking of H.M.S. Pumpkin Pie in stride many pointing out that non-canonicity ce rtainly hasnt stopped other ships from thriving in fanfic a few, already disappointed by the events of Prince were incensed at what they perceived as Rowling making fun of them, and pr oceeded to say so; this faction became known as the Harmonians (or, less ch aritably, Harmoanians). Add to this that some Ron/Hermione shippers were gloating in an unseemly fashion, and one has a recipe fo r a fandom explosion. 24 < http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/ > Accessed July 23, 2007. 25 < http://www.mugglenet.com/ > Accessed July 23, 2007.
75 The true victors in the shipping war turned out to be the battlefield s cavengers of Fandom Wank, who derived countless hours of entert ainment from the entire situation.26 Given this intense focus on romantic pairings in fandom, how do the genres of romance and pornography play out in fanfiction? Responding to Romance While fandom in the broad sense contains both male and female members, the majority of participatory fans -writers and readers of fanf iction -are women. Internet fandoms, including Harry Potter, are primarily female spaces. Much fandom scholarship discusses fandom as, therefore, a liberatory space for women, where th ey can engage with discourses of romance and pornography; as Catherine Driscoll notes, this ha s led to a perhaps disproportionate focus, by academics, upon that fanfiction deemed the most subversive slash and pornography while ignoring the elements of conventional generic hete rosexual romance, as that is the traditional terrain on which women write (Driscoll 82), and likewise ignores scholarship of genre romance, which focuses upon readers agency and re sponses (such as Radway and Modleski).27 Unsurprisingly in fiction that overwhelmingly deals with romantic themes, tropes from genre romance abound in fanfic. Driscoll argues that the most consistent conventions of fan fiction remain that of formulaic romance, which are as follows: The conventions of romance encourage stories in which heroines are insufficiently aware of the world around them to negotiate it eff ectively, so that the story might trace their 26 The postPrince shipping wank, which continues to this day, turned out to be so enormous that Fandom Wank, in fear of drowning, created an offshoot community devoted solely to Harmonian wank: HP Cornfield. The community name refers to the classic Twilight Zone episode Its a Good Life, expressing the desire of weary Wankas to wish all the competing factions to the goddamn cornfield. (HP Cornfield. Created March 18, 2006. Accessed March 3, 2007. JF.) 27 Juffer likewise critiques the academ ic focus upon pornography that ap pears the most transgressive: celebrating pornography's transgressivene ss may lead to a certain dictation of appropriate desires.valorizing the act of reading certain (transgressive) texts potentially hier archizes desire in a manner that might actually inhibit its expression and could play into a conservative politics of correct and incorrect sexual expression. (20)
76 education. Heroes are obviously flawed, a lthough those flaws conceal more valuable virtues; and the romance narrative culminates in heterosexual fulfillment. (84) While her point is well-taken,28 I question the application of this formula to fanfic as a whole. A great many fics do follow this plot to the letter, but in my experience, the incidence of the application of the formula in fa nfic varies a great deal accord ing to pairing. For example, Driscolls formula is extremely common in Snape/Hermione, Draco/Hermione, and prePhoenix Harry/Ginny fanfic; however, while still common, its not quite as consistently found in the most popular Potter het ships of Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione and postPhoenis Harry/Ginny especially since, up until Prince Hermione was, and Ginny still is, canonically more romantically experienced than either of the boys. One finds a similar situation when one considers what scholar and romance novelist Jenn ifer Crusie Smith names as the overriding theme of genre romance -belief in an emo tionally just universe (56), where good people are rewarded with love to be co mmon, but not universal, in roman tic fanfic, both het and slash. The presence or absence of this theme as an organizing principle depends on the characters, the pairing, the author, and the story. For example, postPhoenix Remus/Sirius fanfiction can never fit unproblematically within the di scourse of the genre romance, since their relationship ends on a tragic note with Siriuss needless and preventa ble death in the face of that, it is difficult to construct a believable narrative of an em otionally just universe. A number of the better-known Potter fanfic s invoke well-known genre romance tropes in order to complicate or subve rt them. Lori Summers Paradigm of Uncertainty29 is probably the most famous Harry/Hermione story; while it is, unabashedly, an adventure-romance of the type common in contemporary genre romance, there are some significant differences. The most 28 See Kaler and Johnson-Kurek for more in-depth discussion of genre romance conventions. 29 Lori Summers. July 14, 2001 (in circulation before this). Accessed March 3, 2007. FA.
77 important element of PoU that distinguishes it from a great d eal of genre romance is that Harry and Hemiones romantic relationship develops very gradually the story takes place long after their graduation from Hogwarts, and they spend years as happily platonic friends before falling in love. PoU as fanfiction, has access to the backstor y of Harry and Hermiones relationship from canon, and is able to build a romantic narrative upon a different f oundation than that of genre romance, which must spend time construc ting the hero, heroine, and their romantic relationship from scratch. Mayas Flame and Shadow30 plays more explicitly, and ir onically, with romance tropes not simply those of genre romance, but of societal expectations about the proper way a romance should happen, and, moreov er, expectations about to whom those romantic stories should happen. Ron, having been dumped by He rmione, has a drunken one-night stand with Pansy Parkinson, Dracos ex-girlfriend. In the morning, Ron is horrified at his own behavior, and he lashes out at Pansy: "What kind of girl drinks and takes drugs and-" "Oh no you don't, Weasley. You absolutely do not get to have a one-night stand with me and then lecture me on my morals." "I DON'T have one-night sta nds!" Ron yelled indignantly. Pansy gave him a long look, and then rolled her eyes. Ron clutched his bedsheet to him as if it was his maiden virtue. Ron decides that if they go out on a date, he will be absolved of having a one-night stand. Pansy is bemused, but she agrees to go out with him. Despite finding each other supremely irritating, they eventually fall in love, much to the conste rnation of their respec tive exes, who thoroughly disapprove. Pansy is promiscuous and unashamed of it, and her sexual confidence both shocks 30 Maya. Before June 2003. Accessed March 1, 2007. AS.
78 and attracts the less-experienced Ron, whose re lationship with Hermione was quite sexually repressed; this is a direct c ontradiction of the genre romance formula identified by Driscoll. Their relationship is one initia lly borne out of convenience; wh ile a number of genre romances start out this way, Maya dwells on Ron and Pa nsys frustration and l oneliness -both feel inadequate and desperately ordinary in comparison to their friends, and especially to the partners who have left them: "Potter got what he wanted, did he?" Pansy as ked. "And I'm sure he trampled on people to get it. These, these spectacular people with th eir bravery or their br ains, they get their shining reward, and some of us don't seem to be born for it and there's nothing we can do and they they just turn away." Neither of them feel like the spec ial people, the people who always seem to have love just fall into their laps for example, the heroes and he roines of romance novels, who, as denizens of an emotionally just universe, are described as extrao rdinary in some way that seems to make them more deserving of love extraordinary love -than ordinary schlubs. Throughout the story, Ron keeps evaluating his ideas about how romance is supposed to go, and how girlfriends are supposed to behave; in the end, he tosses all of those expectati ons out the window to be with Pansy, who is the right person for him: The house was never going to be clean and he hated all her friends and he understood her, he got it, and people like Hermione or Malf oy had been smart and had left people they loved and had gone searching and were still sear ching and he'd just stumbled on it and he was incredibly, incredibly lucky. The Internet is for (Fandom) Porn Romance is inextricably bound up with sexuality and while romance and pornography (the explicit representation of sexuality) have traditio nally been posited as oppositional romance as a female discourse, and pornography as a male discourse,31 with erotica as the socially31 Driscoll 83.
79 acceptable term for artistic, or female-oriented porn -the two genres are not separable. Driscoll rightly points out that the two genres of ten work in conjunction, pa rticularly within the realm of fanfiction; fanficti on is not bound by publishers marketing of genre, and thus fan writers are free to blend the discourses in any way they see fit. Fans have largely bypassed use of the term erotica and have cheerfully claimed porn (sometimes jokingly spelled pr0n) as a descript or for their sexually explicit writing. Despite the arguments of second-wave anti-porn feminist s, women have a long history of involvement with porn, and not only as objects of the male g aze, but as producers, consumers, and distributors of pornographic material (see Peakman 35-9, Hunt and Juffer). Womens consumption of and contributions to pornography have primarily been in the realm of written, rather than visual, porn; Jane Juffer convinci ngly argues that [w]omen don't have a greater biological attraction to print than visual materials but rather a greater access to the means of production and consumption (5). Fanfiction neutralizes some of the battle lines in the feminist debate about pornography: it is primarily produced by women, for women32, and in the case of Potter fanfiction, centers around characte rs created by a female author Much of the scholarship concerning pornography has, with notable exceptions, tended to focus upon material aimed at heterosexual males (Kipnis, Williams, Hunt, Kendrick); fanfiction provides an excellent space to map the remarkable decentering effects of pr oliferating sexual representation (Williams Second Thoughts 56). While not all fanfiction is pornographic, fanf iction as a category shares with pornography as a category a potental for seditious critique of existing power structures. Julie Peakman, Lynn 32 Witness Russs statement that slash is pornography by women, for women, with love; while it is usually slash that is articulated as such, I believe th at the statement holds true for romantic fanfiction as a whole. See Chapter 4 for more details of the scholarship surrounding slash.
80 Hunts collection, Laura Kipni s (especially in Reading Hustler ), Walter Kendrick, Linda Williams, and Constance Penley (Crackers) ha ve all discussed the history of pornographic discourse as sometimes serving as a form of political challenge and mockery, of targets both specific (prominent politicians, ar istocrats, clergymen) and gene ral (bourgeois mores, and class structure in general). Penley, citing Cindy Patton, also articulate s porns mockery of mainstream film and television through the production of parodic knockoffs ( Edward Penishands, The Sperminator, The Da Vinci Load ) these knockoffs represent th e explicit sexuality that Hollywood or television is unw illing to show (Crackers 328); these porn parodies, with their insistent filling of spaces within the texts, are not unrelated to fanfic tion in that regard. Fanfiction doesnt have as consis tent a discourse of explicit po litics or parody, but the collective impact of fanfiction does, as was discussed in Chapter 1, pose a challe nge to bourgeois cultural notions of the primacy of the original author, and rational disengagement with worthy texts. With regard to the worthiness of texts (f anfictional and otherwise), and with Juffers cautions against essentializing in mind, it is wo rth noting that fanficti onal pornography differs from non-fannish pornography especially male-ori ented pornography -in one crucial respect: its focus upon character, which is, to put it m ildly, not a concern of non-fannish porn (Driscoll 91). Even the most shameless Tab-A-into-Slot-B PW P (Plot? What Plot?) fanfic is dealing in specific, named characters with histories and persona lities. Fanfictions prim ary appeal is that of a further experience with a favorite text, including specific character s this is true whether the fanfic is pornographic, romantic, or contains no romance whatsoever As Driscoll puts it, That fan fiction includes the only form of pornography mainly produ ced and consumed by women is important more for what it says about the ge ndering of pornography than for any question of motivation or effect (91). This concern for the aesthetic issue of charact erization, absent from
81 so much of what is usually considered pornography, would seem to pull fanfiction like Lost Girls -into the realm of what Lynda Nead calls erotic art above the pulpline (146): that is, sexual representation that is contained by aesthet ic claims, which thus invokes a discourse of disinterested (147) contemplation to counteract the potentially arousing acts being described. However, Moore and Gebbie are deliberately tryi ng to collapse the usual boundaries between Neads articulation of erotic ar t and pornography; both author a nd artist are insist ent that their work is intended to fulfill the pornographic function of sexual arousal -and moreover, the potential sexual arousal of the reader is not in opposition to intellectual and aesthetic enjoyment, but is a central part of the read ers experience with the text. Wh ile individual fanfic writers may or may not conceive of or arti culate their work in the same way Moore and Gebbie do, it is worth noting that the pleasures of pornographic fanfic extend beyond simple sexual arousal, as they provide readers with further experience of the source text s characters and world. Fanfictional narratives often combine elements of romance and pornography, with graphic sex scenes anchoring an extended romance plot or with romance giving a pornographic scene narrative momentum (Driscoll 91). While it is worth noting that none of these combinations are exclusive to fanfiction genre romance, espe cially more overtly erotic texts such as Harlequins Blaze line, certainly does so fanfic tion, due to its unofficial status, is free to mix, match, expand upon, elide, or subvert generic co nventions in whatever manner authors may wish, without being constrained by the conven tions of the publishing industry. Often, the authors categorization of the mood of the story such as fluff, humor, angst, or darkfic carries as much weight in its classification as the pres ence or absence of graphic sex. Witness, for example, Fiction Alleys division of its archive into sections devoted to humorous fic (Riddikulus) and angst/darkfic (The Dark Arts); while The Astronomy Tower is
82 specifically marked as a site for romance fics,33 romantic and sexually explicit narratives can be found in all categories. A terrific example of the ways in which fan writers play with not only the categories of romance and pornography, but also fannish categorie s such as fluff and angst, can be found in Vs True But Not Nice.34 The story features Ma rcus Flint and Oliver Wood,35 and Marcus wants to make very clear that, whatever go ssip has been floating around, he definitely does not like Oliver. So, after threaten ing violence upon those responsibl e for the gossip, he hunts down Oliver to tell him so. This, of course, ends in sex in an aba ndoned classroom, Marcus insisting all the while that he hates Oliver, really he does: It turned out that Oliver didn't get the point anyway, because when Marcus pulled his mouth away, his breathing was quietly erratic, and he hissed in Oliv er's ear, "It's not fucking true, I hate you." And Oliver didn't get it when Marcus pressed the heel of his hand hard against Oliver's waist and pushed, pushed so Oliver had to reach for a table behind him before he lost his balance, and still di dn't get it when Marcus kissed him again, hard enough to bruise, because mixed signals what ? The story is a romance but a cockeyed, anti-ro mantic one Marcus and Olivers desire, and, at the end, their buddi ng regard for one another, is, as th e title says, true but not nice. V, who was 16 when she began writing Potter fic, has a terrific ear for hila riously profane teenage dialogue, especially when it comes to the vague rumor-mongering that kicks off the story. Marcus and Oliver are incoherent rather stupid adol escent boys, and while their inability to 33 A reference to the popularity of the Astronomy Tower as the location at Hogwarts for romantic encounters in fanfic. 34 True But Not Nice. November 18, 2 002. Accessed March 3, 2007. AS. 35 Marcus/Oliver, which pairs the Slytherin and Gryffindo r Quidditch captains, became a popular ship after the release of the film version of Stone The pairing has been characterized as Harry/Draco light: it contains some of the same tensions as Harry/Draco, but without all the cano n and fanon baggage to contend with. Another appealing element of the pairing is its potential for goofiness, as neith er Oliver nor Marcus are, in fanon, overly bright; also, while movie-Oliver (Sean Biggerstaff in Stone and Chamber ) is exceptionally handsome, Marcus is described as trollish ( Stone 185), and movie-Marcus (Jamie Yeates) was fitted w ith hideous teeth for the role. Many stories treat the pairing as a skewed Beauty and the Beast.
83 express themselves provides much of the humor of the story, it also causes them genuine frustration and anxiety, and V neve r condescends to them. She reverses the usual momentum of both romance and pornography, placing the longest and most explicit sex scene first; the other two scenes are shorter and less elaborate, but incrementally more tender. While she invokes a number of pornographic tropes (two teenage boys manage to have ear th-shattering, lube-free anal sex their first time with one another), V, like other gifted fan writers of erotic material such as Calico and Aspen, uses her char acters experiences of the sex act as a way of articulating their personalities and relationship to each other. True But Not Nice doesnt fit easily into the common fannish categories of fluff, angst, humor, or darkfic, though it partak es of all of them. The story is charming and hopeful, but not at all sweet or fluffy ; its very funny, but theres too much of an undercurrent of ra ge (on Marcuss part) and anxi ety (on Olivers ) for it to fit unequivocally into that category. Another category of fannish classification of stories are so-called k inks: while kinkfic refers to a story that cont ains extreme or unusual sexual ac ts (Browne), such as incest, non-consensual sex, bestiality, and so forth36 -reflecting pornogra phys tendency toward specialization -- kink is often used more generally to refer to an especial preference for a specific motif or narrative (i.e., sibling incest, Draco in leather pants, marriage and babies); a bulletproof kink is a preference so strong that you will put up w ith terrible writing if the story is satisfying your kink. The opposite of a kink is a squick, which can be defined as a reaction of active repulsion,37 and, more cheekily, so mebody else's kink.38 As Executrix 36 Browne remarks that Potter is a notoriously kink-friendly fandom, both in the attitudes of the fans and, not coincidentally, in the ease with which the canon accommodate s kink: there is virtually no fetish, however strange, that cannot be made to fit naturally into the Potterverse. 37 Idlerat. November 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ. 38 Ellen Fremedon. Comment on Idlrats LJ. November 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ.
84 remarked, I like the concept of s quick very much because it requ ires us to distinguish between this bothers me and you shouldn't have writte n this, only a terrible person would write/enjoy this."39 This language of kinks and squicks, as Executrix sa ys, enables fans to discuss fanfictional preferences, including erotic turn-ons and turn-offs, in a non-judgmental manner. Elaborating upon the concepts of kinks and squicks, and the way kink functions from the perspectives of readers who may or may not shar e a particular writers kinks, Idlerat asked, I wonder how our perception of other people's reactions influences our own. For instance, is it squickier to know that something upsetting turn s someone (you like) on? Does it matter if you feel like the fic is trying hard to turn *you* on? 40 Ellen Fremedon responds with a thoughtful distinction: Frequently, stories that play to a particular kink are really only intended for an audience that shares that kink. Basical ly, I have different standa rds for kinkfic and for fic containing kink. It really boils down to where the arousal is lo cated in the story-in other words, is the situation getting the characters ho t, or getting the aut hor hot? I've found things extremely arousing that would squick me ho rribly in [real life] or in less skillful fic, just because the characterization was good e nough for the characters' arousal to bleed through vicariously.41 Ellen Fremedons allowance for a porny fanfics aesth etic qualities to overri de its functions as a sexual turn-on is not at all uncommon; Weasley cest narratives initially became popular outside of those with an incest kink for this very reas on (see Chapter 5) readers are swept along by the momentum of the stories. On the topic of being swept along by the momentum of a piece, despite a lack of kink or even the presence of a squick for the issue being e xplored, in the next chapter, I shall move from the broader generic discourses of romance and pornography to a cons ideration of one of the most polarizing characters in the Pott er fandom: Draco Malfoy. Draco is the locus of an enormous 39 Executrix. Comment on Idlerats LJ. November 15, 2003. Accessed February 20, 2007. LJ. 40 Idlerat. Ibid. 41 Ellen Fremedon. Ibid.
85 amount of fannish desire, and he is commonly portr ayed in fanfiction as the Slytherin Sex God. This erotically-charged image of Draco helped, in large part, to drive the development of the mainstream segments of the Potter fando m in the years between the release of Goblet and Phoenix However, I, as a fan, am completely turned off by Draco, and will use my fannish dislike as an entry into a di scussion of the negotiation of can on, fanon, and character love and hate in the Potter fandom.
86 CHAPTER 3 MUCKING ABOUT WITH MALFOY: THE TRANSFORMATION OF DRACO "I'm sure Draco wouldn't hurt a dumb animal," Ginny said at last, after a whispered conference on whether Neville Longbottom counted. -Maya, Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Rat?1 FF.N lists 284,339 Harry Potter stories in its archive2, of which 51,090 feature Draco Malfoy as the chief character on ly Harry and Hermione feature in more stories, and all the other characters lag far behind. According to FF.Ns search engine Draco is most often paired with Hermione (17,595), Harry (16,482), and Gi nny (8730). In comparison, the most popular non-Draco ships are Harry/Hermione (11,114) Hermione/Ron (9613), Harry/Ginny (9418), Remus/Sirius (6332) and Harry/Snape (5428). Draco is simultaneously the most swooned ove r and most fought-about character in the fandom; the sheer number of stories written abou t him attest to his enormous popularity. For a character that, up until Prince was little more than a cardboard bully in canon, this would seem to be quite an achievement. And there, with that statement, Im revealing my own bias: as a fan, I cannot stand Draco. So, why am I devoting an entire chapter to him? Autoethnography: or, Virtue Has Nothing to Do With It My initial rationale for this chapter was that it was my academic duty to report on Draco stories, as they are so histori cally important to the development of the fandom. I was just going to have to suppress my fannish side: that is, I would hold my nose, and attempt to present an objective documentation and analysis of these st ories. What a good little scholar I am! So noble, so self-sacrificing so self-serving. I wa s drawing a distinction between my fannish and my academic selves, and privileging the per ceived needs of the academic world over my 1 Chapter 11. Prior to 2003. Accessed July 30, 2007. AS. 2 As of February 11, 2007.
87 desires as a fan: a triumph of rationality. Matt Hills argues, eloquently, that academics have set up a false dichotomy between academics and fans, and often privile ge one (usually the academic) over the other (usually the fan). As frustrating as I find Hills book, for reasons detailed in the introduction, he has a point, and he calls for a more honest form of aca-fan autoethnography, that avoids the pitfalls of both the pathologizing and romanticizing positions. Hills argues that good autoethnography should attempt to be multivocal; it should not operate as a legitimization of the investments of the academic-fan self which are dressed up as theoretical critique (80). Hellekson and Busse take Hills argument in a somewhat different direction: [W]hereas Hills regards [autoethnography] as a voluntary self-est rangement (72) we think of it as more, rather than less, of an investment and as an aw areness of our subject positions that creates a stronger, rather than weaker affect. By remaining fan-scholars at the same time that we become scholar-fans, we hope to shift the concerns from dichotomy of academic and fannish identity to subject posi tions that are multiple and permit us to treat the academic and fannish parts as equally importa nt. Our identities are neither separate nor separable. (Introduction 24) Hellekson and Busse have gather[ed] together fans who are already academics and academics who are already fans (Introduction 24); while this approach makes sense in a volume of essays by multiple authors, which is multivocal by nature, I dont believe that my subject position as both fan and academic is enough to su stain the arguments I wish to make about multivocality for the course of an entire dissert ation, which is why I have chosen to follow the example of Jenkins, Jenkins and Green (Normal Female Interest) in incorporating extensive analyses and commentary from fans. However, I do wish to further explain that subject position, in terms of my own fannish and academic experience, as a way of shedding some light on my analyses of the Potter fandom. I touche d upon my fannish interests as a means for shaping this dissertation as a whol e in the introduction; here, I wish to go a bit deeper into those
88 interests, and how they have shap ed my responses to specific fanni sh issues. In conjunction with Jensens article on academics se lf-serving distinction between themselves and fans, I realized that, because of my intense emotional response to Draco as a character and fannish icon, this chapter was an ideal space to r eally examine my own understanding of myself in the categories of academic and fan. The marker of a professional academic is the same as that of a participatory fan: sharing ones insights with an audience. In academia, the modes of transmission are quite formalized: publication of articles, teaching classes, presenting at professional conferences. Fandom can, and often does, incorporate these modes of tr ansmission, particularly in the context of conventions or conferences, but fannish interac tions are not limited to these formal spaces and discourses; fandom also embraces a wide variet y of creative and informal discourses ranging from artistic creation to vicious flamewars to de lighted squeeing to lustful ogling. The same fan (myself, for instance) can post an academic analysis of the Weasley twins role in Chamber (and stick a variation of it into my dissertation), write a snippet of a George/Hermione fic, sigh over the growing attractiveness of the actors playing the twins in the films, and get into a nearflamewar over the relative Evil Bully-ness of the tw ins in comparison to Draco: all of these are part of the fannish purview, and fans happily ac cept discourses ranging from the most formal of academic tones to the most informal exclama tions (OMG DRACO IS SO HAWT); there are a number of discrete spaces set aside for partic ular forms of fannish discourse (essay sites, shipping threads, fic communities), but they are all considered part of the general space of fandom. The movement within academia to wards personal narrative and autoethnography has been a step from the other side towards broadening the parameters for acceptable academic discourse; while academia, as a professionalized space, will never have access to the sheer
89 breadth of discourses open within the anarch ic spaces of fandom, treating academia and fandom as wholly separate spheres is a mist ake, as there are far t oo many fans, including myself, who have experienced these categories as mutable and amorphously overlapping. My occupation of the categories of academic and fan springs from the same impetus: an obsessive nature. Im driven by a desire to not only learn as much as I can about a given subject, but also to participate, in any way, in th e discourse of that subjec t. I didnt want to be simply a passive consumer of my favorite books, so I discuss them, write about them, argue over them. I have passionate emotional responses to stories, and especially characters, and those responses drive both my fannish and my academic interests; if a text does not spark that passionate response, I will not pursue it either acad emically or fannishly. This need for a further experience drove me to seek out scholarship on my favorite texts, and while I found it deeply satisfying, I still hungered for even more ways to engage. Folklore, with its constant reiteration and revision of stories, was imme nsely appealing to me; my initia l plan for my dissertation was a study of fairy tale retellings in young adult nove ls. The more fanfiction I read, the more I realized that fanfiction bore a striking resembla nce, in terms of the artistic maneuvers being made, to those retold fairy tales I so enjoyed. Bo th tapped into my desire to see a known story or character from a multiplicity of angles, and to play with what readers, and characters, think they know when going into a story. R ecursive fiction depends upon our familiarity with a text in order to create something new and stra nge, and it is this sense of the uncanny that I found deeply appealing, as a reader, writer, and scholar one of the reasons I went in to childrens literature was to look at the stories I had loved as a child with new eyes and I was delighted with the strangeness I found.
90 This is why I find incest narratives, especi ally those about the Weasley twins, so fascinating -the layers and layers that have to be peeled away to get at something true about a posited incestuous relationship: of folk and literary metanarrativ es about incest, about twins, about tricksters; of the literal famili arity of the beloved -not ju st family, but one who looks exactly like you, down to your DNA strands and the erotic charge th at comes from being with someone who could be, and maybe should be, known territory, but who turns out to have twists of their very own. I also have, to put it in fannish terms, a ma jor best friends kink, which to my mind is a game similar to incest stories, but pl ayed for lower stakes; my craving is for stories that hang in the balance between familiarity and ne wness, with sexuality being the final frontier. (This is why Ive never been fond of ex-lovers-reu initing stories.) There is, most assuredly, an erotic charge to my enjoyment of fanfiction I dont like to read about characters that I dont find sexually appealing. But this sense of erotic ism is not isolated from my academic concerns, as is evidenced by my interest in the genres of pornography and romance, as well as gender and sexuality studies fandom is simply a space where I can happily and easily meld erotic and intellectual enjoyment in a manner that appe als to my erotic and intellectual tastes. So, this is what I love. Draco is another ma tter entirely. There is absolutely nothing I find appealing about the character, in canon or fanon. While I find Dracos racism and snobbery disgusting and indefensible, I ca nt pretend to have an overarc hing objection to reading about racist snobs, as I actively seek out stories a bout Tom Riddle, and have been known to enjoy stories about Dracos father, Lucius.3 I cannot decide whether I find Draco irritatingly boring, or boringly irritating: if he were funny or clever, Id be more incl ined to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I do Snape (who is both intelligent and mordantly funny). I also have a major 3 After the release of promotional pictures of the film version of Chamber featuring Jason Isaacs as Lucius, the incidence of fans mistyping Lucius as Luscious skyrocketed.
91 competence kink: that is, I find people who are ve ry good at what they do, whatever that is, to be very appealing. In Dracos case, he isn t very good at being evil -unlike Tom and Lucius who have a genuine talent for wreaking havoc and striking fear into hearts. Up until Prince Draco is simply an arrogant, petty, spoiled little entitlement whore who failed pathetically in all his attempts to get one up on Harry and company. Some find that endear ing; I do not. Plus, I dont much like blonds. Too, Draco isnt textually situated in a way that lends itself to the stories I like; I prefer sibling incest narratives to parent/child ones, and Dracos only close friends are Crabbe and Goyle, a nd those are love stories the gory details of which Id prefer to remain unaware. (While I enjoy the battling-love rs scenario, Id rather read Ron/Hermione which also satisfies my best friend kink than Draco/good guy any day.) Another element of my dislike has less to do with Draco himself than with my encounters with some of his defenders; not only do I have residual resentment from my first foray into Potter fandom (Why are people wasting their time with this Draco crap? They should be writing stories that cater to my tastes!), but Ive weathere d too many rounds of the Weas ley Twins are Evil Bullying Potential Death Eaters, but Draco is a Poor Mi sunderstood Suffering Angel, to have enormous reserves of patience when it comes to hi m, and the stories that adore him. So, given my dislike, why is Draco occupying a space in this dissertatio n? Well, love him or loathe him, Draco is inescapable in the Potter fandom. He is a polarizing figure, and very few Potter fans are completely indifferent to him; frustration, annoyance, and character-bashing are as much a part of fandom as squeals of delight. Fans spend as much time dissecting things they dislike, about the canon, the fa non, and the fandom, as they spe nd celebrating the things they love: if this werent so, Fando m Wank would not exist. While I do feel that I have a certain academic responsibility to discuss such a major fa ndom presence, I also feel that my dislike of
92 him is just as valid a fannish response as the a doration of his fans, and should be discussed as such. Changing the Leopards Spots Fan culture has a long history of challenging and subverting the paradigms of the source text; Henry Jenkins names the two fannish move s that operate in stor ies that center around Draco: Refocalization: While much of fan fiction s till focuses on the series protagonists, some writers shift attention away from the progr ams central figures and figures and onto secondary characters, often women and minorit ies, who receive limited screen time. Moral Realignment: Perhaps the most extreme form of focalization, some fan stories invert or question the moral universe of the primary text, taking the villains and transforming them into the heroes of their own narratives. ( Poachers 165-9) Jenkins, discussing wider trends in general fanfiction, paints in broad strokes; a closer examination of the way Draco narratives functio n within the fandom reveal a far more complex system of interpretive and artistic strategies at work. Dracos power and influence as a character within fandom was wildly disproportionate to his prePrince importance in the books, for a variety of reasons. Of course, there are literary precedents fo r villain-rehabilitation: as Flashman, the bully from Tom Browns Schooldays is an obvious antecedent for Canon Draco, George Macdonald Frasers Flashman series is an obvious forerunner of Fanon Draco, even if this character is ra rely invoked explicitly in fanfiction. Rowling herself seems bemused by Dracos popul arity, and frequently mocks or dismisses sympathetic readings of the character during he r interviews. When asked, in 2004, if Draco was only child, she replied, Yes. You wouldn't want more Dracos, would you?! (World Book Day Chat). And then, in the response that sent a good portion of the fandom into either screaming rages or raptures of delight, she informed us that
93 this is a really good place to answer a ques tion about Draco and Hermione, which a certain Ms. Radcliffe is desperate to have answered. Will they end up together in book six/seven? NO! The trouble is, of course, that girls fanc y Tom Felton [the actor playing Draco in the films], but Draco is NOT Tom Felton! (Ibid.) After the release of Prince Rowling elaborated further on her concerns about the fannish embrace of Draco: People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that's the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. Its a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of girls, that th ey are going to change someone. And that persists through many women's lives, till their death bed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a litt le bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character, because there must be an element in there, that "I'd be the one who [changes him]." I mea n, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So, a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying, "You want to rethink your priorities here." (Anel li and Spartz, Part 2) This being the Potter fandom, Rowlings comm ents, in both cases, unleashed a steady torrent of wank,4 with Draco-lovers and Draco-haters e ither sharpening kniv es or gloating. Many fans rightly pointed out that Draco was a popular character long before Tom Felton gave him an arguably cute face: The fanon characterisation of Draco as mis understood, secretly good, sexy etc. was alive and kicking long before [ Stone ] was released in cinemas. That fangirls find Tom Felton good-looking has contributed, but it's hard ly a sufficient condition. I think it's a combination of the Bad Boy effect, old archetyp es, the bias against him in the story, some shallowness and fandom interaction. Though we'v e drowned in fanfiction now, this wasn't always the case. There were a few fics that got the status of "almost canon," where Draco got the role of Sarcastic AntiHero, and it's an idea that has been bounced around a lot and there's been a lot of imitation.5 4 In the case of the second interview, however, Rowlin gs comments about the pairings of Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione received far more attention from fans; see Chapter 3 for details. 5 Alshain. W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G., AKA Cant Stand Fanon!Draco Malfoy. Fiction Alley Park Thread. September 29, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2007. FA.
94 This assertion is borne out by th e existence of a number of preGoblet Draco stories, as well as the fact that early chapters of the influential multi-chapter Draco epics, including Cassandra Claires Draco Trilogy ( Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister, Draco Veritas ), Ajas Love Under Will and Rhysenns Irresistible Poison were floating around before the release of the film version of Stone in November 2001. Several fans were offended at Rowlings apparently cavalier treatment of their favor ite character, her perceived am usement/exasperation at their expense, and her speculation upon the source of thei r Draco-affection. Others take the offended Draco-lovers to task, pointing out th at Her purpose of being a write r is to write what she wants, not what we want.6 Fandom Wank has the last word, as usual: Isntitironic: If I ever have a fandom that writes the kind of crap I see infesting [Potter fandom], I'll be a bitch to my fans, too. Cleolinda: Seriously. And I don't even care w ho ships what. I dream of a future where I will pop up randomly on message boards and terrify netspeaking teenies like the Voice of God: "NOW SPELL YOUR FICS CORRECT LY OR YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER DIES!"7 What Is This Fanon Draco, And From Where Did He Beam Down? Draco Malfoy is the most controversial charac ter in the Harry Potte r canon. The questions underlying not only J.K. Rowlings treatment of him in the books, but our reception of him, have been the subject of constant di sagreement throughout the fandom for the past five years. Is he a sympathetic character? Is he Hitler youth? Is he meant to provide a very crucial lesson to Harry about tolerance, prej udice, and inter-house unity ? Is he filler, a comical stock bully? Is he nua nced or cardboard, or both at once? What the heck is up with his status as widespread fandom idol a reading of his ch aracter which Rowling herself has openly and frequently rejected?8 6 Author By Night. W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. Fiction Alley Park Thread. March 5, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2007. FA. 7 Comments on Fandom Wank. March 7, 2004. Accessed February 13, 2007. JF. 8 Aja. Defining Draco Malfoy. November 28, 2004. Accessed July 23, 2007. AS.
95 In canon, Draco Malfoy is an unprepossessing char acter who is revealed to be even more unpleasant than he initially seemed: he is a cowa rd, a racist, a horrible sn ob, a bully; he toadies, he tattles, he threatens everyone with the wrath of his father. He whines, he gloats at the prospect of torture being inflicted upon others he taunts those with less money or material possessions than himself. In the first books, he is a major irritant to Harry and his friends, but by Phoenix he had faded into the background and barely registered on Harrys radar, having been trumped by the far greater thre at of a newly corporeal Vold emort, though his function as a connection to his powerful and sinister fam ily -especially his father, Lucius Malfoy, Voldemorts right-hand man -ensured his con tinued presence in the books. However, Prince gave Draco fans just about everything they were hoping for: a complex, desperate, openly vulnerable Draco, motivated by the need to prot ect his family, who is shown weeping in the bathroom (521-2), and, in the climactic scene, to be incapable of directly committing murder (592-6). Moreover, Harry/Draco shippers a ship to which many, if not all, Draco fans profess allegiance were ecstatic at Harr ys requital of Dracos previous ly one-sided obsession. Fans are still absorbing the impact of this sea-change in Dracos im portance, and a number of the old Draco-fan/non-Draco-fan lines in the sand are be ing reassessed. One of the chief points of contention Dracos overall importance in the se ries has been answered by Rowling, and this has robbed Draco discussions of much of their prev ious heat, but that history of disagreement is important; I have therefore chos en to concentrate more on prePrince discussions of Draco, as its difficult to unravel the postPrince discourse without the hist orical background of Draco arguments within the fandom.
96 Like Voldemort, Draco combines, in Vladimir Propps terminology, the roles of villain and donor9: Voldemort has unwittingly passed some of his powers along to Harry how much, and of what nature these power are, is a major source of angst for Harry -but Dracos villainy, and accidental giving, is usually just annoying and ridiculous. In Stone Draco goads Harry into displaying his skills on a broomstick, thus lead ing to Harrys installation on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. During Chamber he unwittingly imparts valuable information about the beast stalking the school to a dis guised Harry and Ron. In Azkaban Draco, attempting to get a hippogriff executed, inadvertently provides the m eans for Sirius Blacks escape. In Phoenix he writes the mocking lyrics to Weasley is our Ki ng, intended to rattl e Ron on the Quidditch field; the song ends up as the Gr yffindor victory cheer when Ron ove rcomes his stage fright. He earns Hermione the admiration of Harry and Ron when she slaps him ( Azkaban ); he is caught out talking to Rita Skeeter, thus enabling Hermione to discern Ritas Animagus form (a beetle) and neutralize her ( Goblet ); he is beaten to a pul p by George and Harry, transf igured into a ferret and then bounced across a stone floor, stupefied, turned into a giant slug, and mauled by a hippogriff. All in all, he cuts a rather pathetic fi gure. Dracos actions drive the plot of Prince but all his attempts to murder Dumbledore go awry, and Harry, the only person convinced of Dracos responsibility, is unable to convin ce anyone else of it. As Aja, one of the most dedicated and eloquent Draco-defenders in the fandom, puts it: Unlike Harry, Dracos biggest moments in the b ooks are all defined by a lack of action; in fact, his entire modus opera ndi throughout the books can be summed up as a series of passive-aggressive actions against Harry and Ha rrys friends. All of these attempts fail miserably and often work for Harry rather than against him. When he does try to stand on 9 A not uncommon combination, such as the witch in a fairy tale from whom the hero steals a magical agent (Propp 81).
97 his own, he fails horribly and embarrassing ly. Indeed, the mo ral surrounding all of Dracos actions thus far seems to be that ka rma is a bitch, and bullies will be punished.10 Given all this which is, indeed, the source of much of my dislike for the character -why Dracos intense prePrince popularity? Elkins, in a famous and extremely influential essay, argues not only that Draco Malfoy is Ever So La me, but that his lameness is the reason for his devoted fan following. I do feel that Draco has been written in su ch a way as to encourage a good amount of reader sympathy, something that cannot be sa id for any of the series' other villain characters.... For one thing, she never lets Draco win. Never. Not ever. [W]hat few successes he has are both s hort-lived and do no permanent harm, while his failures are often overwhelming. Of course, Draco Malfoy is not designated "Underdog" by the text itself. The text itself defines him as a ma ss of privilege. But the *meta-text* -the unspoken body of genre convention and literary tr ope that readers cannot help but hold in mind while they read a work of fiction -de signates him quite clearly as the Underdog of the piece. As readers, we know perfectly we ll that Draco cannot win. And yet, even though he's utterly trounced at the end of each book, there he is at the start of the next one, still plugging away at trying to make life difficult for Harry, even though he's not really very good at it and never manages to get aw ay with it, in the end. And you know, it's really hard not to sympathize with that.11 This sympathy, in some quarters, led to Fa non Draco, a monstrous amalgamation of Oscar Wilde, Dread Pirate Westley, and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer : beautiful, witty, tormented, louche, sarcastic, charming, aristocr atic, secretly goodhearted, and above all, sexy His arrogance and snobbery is reca st as endearing charm, his bigot ry is written off as naivete, and his canonical pale, ferret-like pointiness is reimagined as bl ond-bombshell sensuality he is sometimes asserted to have Veela blood. Also, he weeps. A lot. So how did Fanon Draco develop? First, it is necessary to lay out what is meant by fanon in more detail. Driscoll characterizes fanon as showing up in nave, unsophisticated, and immature writing (88-90); however she is invoking a narrow definition of fanon that is 10 Aja. Defining Draco Malfoy. November 28, 2004. Accessed July 23, 2007. AS. 11 Elkins, Draco Malfoy is Ever So Lame.
98 somewhat at odds with the way the term is used in fandom in general. As was mentioned in Chapter 1, fanon is a portmanteau of fan canon, and Mafalda Stasi notes that [f]anon is developed by the fan community as an integral pa rt of the process of in terpretation of original texts (121). Especially in a fandom the si ze of Harry Potter, subgr oups develop their own fanon, and a piece of fanon can be confined to a pa rticular LJ community, a particular ship, the fanbase of a specific character or extend fandom-wide. Flourish, in Fiction Alley s glossary of fannish te rms, defines fanon thus: Concepts, ideas or beliefs about the series that have never been explicitly told to us by Rowling, but have become so commonly used in the fandom that they are taken as fact. For instance, before J.K. Rowling stated in a chat that Lily was in Gryffindor, fanon often placed her into Slytherin.12 Notice that this definition refers to relatively simple factual gapfilling. This is one form of fanon, and while fans may disagree on the accuracy of a particular piece of fanon, most dont see this as, as Browne puts it, per nicious probably because this fa non is intended to function as a plausible reading of canon. Browne gives an exce llent example of this type of fanon: until [ Phoenix ] confirmed it, Snapes being sent back to spy on the Death Eaters was a widelyaccepted piece of fanon. Contradictory readings can become fanon in different quarters; for example, at the present moment, there are at least two fanon answ ers to the question, Is Harry a Horcrux? But what about that more pernicious form of fanon, such as what many fans claim is exemplified by Fanon Draco? This is what Driscoll is referring to when she calls fanon a false image of canon, a wish-fulfillment fantasy (88), and points out that a great deal of the fanon considered controversial within the fandom is based upon the ster eotyped figures and plots of 12 Flourish. Fiction Alley: Dictionary of Terms. 2001. June 27, 2007.
99 genre romance. She claims that this sort of fanon is a fantasy based on the needs of individual writers (88). However, this somewhat misses the point of fanon, as for something to become fanonical it has to be picked up by a number of fans, to the point where its origins may be obscured (Browne) fanon is folk interpretation as practiced within the fandom. Fanon becomes controversial when it is perceive d to stray too far from the real m of canonical interpretation, but is still being posited as such. It becomes esp ecially controversial when a piece of strays-toofar fanon becomes popular enough to pose a cha llenge to more close ly-canonical fanonical interpretation. For example, th e trope of Abused Draco (see be low) is usually held to be reasonably canon-supported fanon, but an Abused Draco with a heart of gold who secretly longs to join the side of Right and Good is often considered beyond the pale. As might be clear by now, the pernicious form of fanon is often centered around the nuances of character interpretati on; since responses to particular characters are individual and subjective, fanon characterization, more so than plot predictions or factual gap-filling, is an extremely reliable source of wank. This is especia lly true when the fanon is believed to originate within influential fanfiction, as opposed to, say, a theory about the canon itself13; it is one thing when the creative license taken by a fanfic write r is confined to her story, but another thing entirely when her creative innovations become so widespread as to drown out (or appear to drown out) more canon-supported fanon. (And of c ourse, what counts as canon-supported is hardly a cut-and-dried issue see Stasi, and Chapter 4, for details.) Dark, unpleasant, or villainous characters are very pr one to garnering controversial fa non, if the literary process of rehabilitation especially extr eme rehabilitation -is believed to be common enough to override, in the fandom, their canonical unpleasantness or villainy; this process is sometimes called 13 Of course, fanfiction often explores theories about th e canon; the issue is when a fanfic authors artistic innovation becomes popularized as a comment on canon, rather than a fun detail.
100 woobification (as in Aw, I just want to c uddle the poor widdle woobie! see Browne). Famous woobies include not just Draco, but Snape, Lex Luthor (especially in his Smallville incarnation), and Gregory House ( House M.D. ).14 (For some reason, Lucius and Tom are less prone to being woobified, perhaps because there is almost nothing potentially sympathetic about them for fans to grab on to, and the pleasur e of villainy thus ove rrides the woobification impulse.) Woobification extends beyond sympathy in to what can be considered a problematic smoothing away of rough edges, and a procli vity for placing them in schmoopy, happy-ending narratives in possible defiance of their tr ajectory in canon. Again, woobification, and characterization that strays beyond a certain point (whatever that is) of canon plausibility in general, doesnt tend to become a point of cont ention until it reaches a degree of critical mass -when the woobie version of a character starts to challenge the popular ity of the canonically villainous form. While Ive been focusing on fanon that is intend ed, or looks as if it is intended, to serve as a reading of canon, its important to note that not all fanon functions this way; there are a number of fanonical tropes that began as jokes, or are cheerfully and de liberately uncanonical, such as the fanon that develops in ships that ha ve little to no chance of becoming canon. In fact, many of the individual elements that make up Fanon Draco started out as joke s, especially in the Harry/Draco segment of fandom. In general, fanon that is no t pretending to canonical accuracy doesnt tend to become controve rsial, unless the group that produ ced it feels it becomes clichd, or, as with Dracos love of leather pants, becomes picked up by enough people to risk becoming a fandom-wide trope. 14 Good characters are also prone to woobification, if they are presented in canon as sympathetically angst-ridden and tormented: this class of woobie includes Remus, Sirius, Fox Mulder ( X-Files ) and Dean Winchester ( Supernatural ).
101 Rehabilitation and Redemptionistas In a broad sense, there are two basic categorie s of Draco-narratives: stories where Draco is redeemed, and stories where he is not. By redeemed, I mean any story in which Draco, overtly or covertly, reject s whole or in part the agenda of Vo ldemort, the Death Eaters, and/or his father in favor of the anti-Voldemort positi on espoused by Harry, Dumbledore, and the other good characters; this redemption is a crucial feature of Fanon Draco. These Redeemed Draco stories can be further subdivided into rehabilita tion narratives, where Drac o starts out badly, but is cured of his wicked (or at least rude and/or bigoted) ways usually through the love of Harry, Hermione, Ginny, or occasionally Ron -and resc ue narratives, where Draco is already in possession of a heart of gold and longs to escape th e horrors of being a junior Death Eater -most Abused Draco stories fall into this category, and will be discussed in Chapter 5. Of course, many stories contain both tropes in the Draco Trilogy Draco hates his fath er and all that he stands for, but must still reevaluate his class bi ases. Though there are a decent number of stories that portray Draco as unequivoc ally evil many written as a result of overexposure to Redeemed Draco stories -they are far out numbered by fics that render the character sympathetic. Most of these narratives reaffirm the moral lines drawn in canon Voldemort and company are Evil, and something that Draco mu st escape or be rescue d from. And many of these stories, particularly those written prePhoenix present the Good side as unquestionably the better option. Even those stor ies, like Kay Taylors Surfacing,15 that are suspicious of the rhetoric of the good guys still choose to align Draco with them, as its difficult to render characters that advocate racism and genocide wh olly sympathetic. In addition, many narratives, especially humor and PWPs, present the Death Eate rs as simply ridiculous or irrelevant and 15Kay Taylor. July 16, 2004. Accessed February 13, 2007. SK.
102 therefore Draco falls in with the good guys by default Mayas Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing.. Rat? discussed below, is an extremely influential example. However, Draco, much like Flashman, can be used as a medium for questioning those very moral lines; many argue that Row lings continued portrayal of hi m, and by extension, Slytherin House as a whole, as irredeemably ba d in canon is itself morally suspect: Look, none of the pro-Dumbledor e, Side-Of-Good-And-Beauty types are suggesting for a moment that wizarding society and muggle society ought to be integrated. Death Eaters may regard Muggles as utterly inferior, but how is that considerably wo rse than the sort of patronising condescencion we see from the re st of the wizarding wo rld? Arthur Weasley thinks Muggles are amusing in the same way that many pe ople find chimps' tea parties entertaining: a bit like us, but not really as good. Muggles are under-developed, not quite up to standard. It's perfectly acceptable for wi zards to routinely Obliviate Muggles to avoid inconvenience or embarrassment: in what way does any of this demonstrate some kind of equality between wizard and Muggle?16 The Slytherins are evil. The Slytherins are th e Junior Death Eaters. There are bullies in the other houses, but it's the Slytherin bullies who lack redeeming characteristics. The purpose of the Slytherins is to be cardboard cutout villains that the reader "should" hate without reservation. It's predicta ble and one-dimensional. In the real world, lines between good and evil are never this cleanly cut. And it doesn't work in canon either if Voldemort's army was comprised of naught save Slytherins, it would have to have been a pretty small ar my. Of course, people from other houses may have become Death Eaters, but the ca tch is, we don't hear about them. And still, even if the majority of Death Eaters were Slytherins/the majority of Slytherins became Death Eaters, one would think that 'bri lliant' and 'wise' wizards like Dumbledore would have spotted this trend and maybe, you know, done something to address why it was occurring in the first place. 17 Fans espousing these positions were ecstatic when Prince confirmed many of their arguments, and have good reason to hope that Hallows will continue the give Draco, and Slytherins as a whole, more depth and complexity. 16 Ephemera. Whats Wrong With a Non-Redeemed Draco? Fiction Alley Park Thread. July 12, 2003. Accessed July 25, 2007. FA. 17 Htrismegistus. Comment on Fandom Wank. March 3, 2004. Accessed February 22, 2007. JF.
103 Poor, Abused Draco, or: Lucius Instrument of Redemption As mentioned earlier, one of the primary trope s of numerous Draco narratives is Dracos perceived abuse at the hands of his parents, al most always his father. Lucius Malfoys first appearance in canon, arguing with Draco in Borgin and Burkes ( Chamber 50-3), is the Scene That Launched a Thousand Beatings. One of the most common way of interpreting that scene, especially for lovers of Fanon Draco, is to r ead the scene as indicat ive of Lucius coldness toward his son, which can be translated into emo tional (or more likely in fic) physical abuse. The actor Jason Isaacs, who plays Luci us in the Potter films, concurs: Lucius is a very dark char acter and a thoroughly unpleasant ma n, Isaacs notes. Hes the most confident person Ive ever stepped insi de and completely supreme in his arrogance and ruthlessness. He is pure evil. Lucius relationship with his son Draco is vital to the story, as well as the key to understanding why Draco is such an antagonistic bully. Draco has a monstrous home life, says Isaacs. Lucius bullies him, which makes Draco bully others. Hes a chip off the old block.18 Given the close involvement Rowling has had with the films, it can be inferred that Isaacss portrayal of Lucius as not simply a monste r in general, but a monster to his son as well, is not out of the ballpark of po ssibility, as far as canon is conc erned. And that is more than enough justification for fanfic writers, who can spin vast theories out of fa r more subtle hints. Tom Feltons comment, from the same piece, encap sulates both this reading and the other major reading of the Malfoys relationship: I always thought that theirs would be quite a loving relationship, si nce Lucius and Draco are both really mean people, but I think ther es actually something quite scary going on between them Draco always gets the rough end of the stick and is quite afraid of his father. (Ibid.) Sister Magpies nuanced readi ng of that scene concludes that Draco comes across as quite emotionally stunted, as a clear resu lt of his treatment by his parents: 18 Final Production Notes.
104 A lot of Draco's talk about his parents centers around their affection for him. In his first scene he's bragging he can bully his parents into buying him a broom, later we hear his mum sends him sweets and doesn't want him as far away as Durmstrang (stuff that again most kids would die before letting anyone know). His taunts to Harry center on the lack of such affection, not having a proper family, havi ng to stay at school for Christmas. So I can't help but notice that whenever we see thes e people in canon they hardly mesh with the picture Draco's painted. Lucius seems at best bored by and at worst disgusted by his son in that scene. I honestly don't recall one positive thing Lucius says to Draco throughout. Draco himself, of course, is whining a bout Harry and spineles sly trying to place responsibility for his own failures on others, bu t that, to me, doesn't seem strange given the way Lucius seems to view him. I doubt there's any good way for Draco to admit to failure and do better--yet it also seems like a family rule that Lucius must be seen as perfect. With Lucius as his model of perfection how could one really expect him to make sense on this issue? By announcing Draco's incompetence to the shopkeeper, Lucius enlists his help in shaming his son. That's certainly the way he treats him in the scene. Any openings for encouragement Draco gives him ("What good will it do if I don't make the team..?") are dismissed... and this is the guy who supposedly thinks it's a crime Draco isn't allowed to play first year? I don't think so.19 A great number of Draco stories take the cold ness and tension Sist er Magpie notes and spin it into a full-blown abuse narr ative. Nearly always, the abuse functions as a spur to Dracos rejection of the dark side rejection of Voldemor t also is a rejection of his cruel father. The Draco Trilogy is the best-known Abused Draco fic, and as every aspect of th at story inspired legions of imitators, its unsurpr ising that a canonically plausible motivation for an eventual redemption of Draco, with built-in melodrama, sympathy and vast potential for hurt-comfort scenes, should be seized upon by writers. There is in fact, a specific subgenre of Lucius/Draco stories in which Lucius sexual abuse of his son is what pushes Draco into Harrys/Hermiones/Ginnys arms (see Chapter 5). Fons et Origo: Cassandra Claires Draco Trilogy "Well," said Harry, "you know, were kept pretty busy having Young Death Eater meetings, and then we spend a lot of time making loads of other students feel bad about their lack of money and social standing. Sometimes we stay up all night and try to raise 19 Sister Magpie. November 16, 2003. Accessed February 27, 2007. LJ.
105 demons to do our loathsome bidding, but most evenings we just order pizza and pull the wings off a few flies."20 Cassandra Claires Draco Trilogy (2000-2006) consisting of Draco Dormiens Draco Sinister and Draco Veritas -are easily the best-known and most influential stories in the Potter fandom. Her conception of Draco as a witty, lang uid, effete snarkmaster with a heart of gold and a wardrobe of leather pants became, for better or for worse, the chief representative of Fanon Draco. The plot is immensely complicated, with a cons tant stream of char acters coming together and breaking up, and rearrang ing themselves into couples and al liances. The story begins with a magical accident: Harry and Draco are partnered for a class experiment in Polyjuice Potion, a substance that transforms ones outward appear ance into that of another. Harry and Draco, paired against their will, take on each others appearances: "I wa s just thinking that I really am astonishingly handsome," said Drac o in Harrys voice. "I could ki ss myself. I mean, seriously, in this particular situat ion, I could kiss myself."21 But while all the other student pairs return to their proper forms at the end of class, Harry and Draco inexplicably remain trapped in each others bodies. Draco-as-Harry provokes a fistfi ght, in which Harry-as-Draco is knocked cold and sent to the infirmary; when questioned, Drac o-as-Harry decides to pl ay along and pretend to be Harry. For a time, Draco has enormous fun r eaping the benefits of Harrys fame, especially that of female attention: "Its not a quiet life, being Ha rry Potter," Draco went on, warmi ng to his subject. "Ive got classes, plus Quidditch, plus interviews with the Daily Prophet, loads of good to do and 20 Cassandra Claire. Draco Dormiens. Chapter 3. Available for download as of February 14, 2007. AS. 21 Draco Dormiens Chapter 1.
106 evil to vanquish, plus Im being hunted down by the remorseless killer who murdered my parents. I havent got time to go barging around after girls."22 Hermione, who has been carrying a torch for Ha rry, soon apprehends the situation, and sets out on a rescue mission, Draco-as-Harry in tow, to Malfoy Manor, where Harry-as-Draco has been taken following his Potions class injury. In the meantime, Harry-as-Draco is struggling to keep up the charade for Lucius and Narcissa, Dr acos parents, and not entirely succeeding: She [Narcissa] rushed out of the room and al most immediately rushed right back in again, bearing what looked like a lengt h of green velvet. She handed it to him, and he saw that there were words picked out acr oss the front in gold lettering: PUNISHMENT LEADS TO FEAR. FEAR LEADS TO OBEDIE NCE. OBEDIENCE LEADS TO FREEDOM. THEREFOR E PUNISHMENT IS FREEDOM. "Wow," said Harry in a lifeless voice. "Its l ovely, Mum. I bet all the other kids will wish they had a blanket with a really ho rrible motto on it just like this one.23 Hermione and Draco-as-Harrys rescue attemp t coincides with Lucius Malfoys plan to lure Harry to Malfoy Manor using Sirius Black as bait; complications en sue, not the least of which is Dracos growing attraction to Hermione, c onfused by the fact that he currently occupies Harrys body and has access to some of Harrys thoughts. With the help of Narcissa, who has been an unwilling pawn in her husbands politi cal power games, and a last-minute appearance by Ron and the twins, Harry (now re turned to his own body, as is Dr aco), Hermione, and Sirius are rescued from Malfoy Manor, along with Draco, who has been di sinherited by his father for refusing to betray Harry and Hermione. Harry and Draco are then united as family with the marriage of Narcissa and Sirius, forcing them to remain in each others constant company for the remainder of the series. The love triangle c onsisting of Harry, Hermione and Draco continues 22 Draco Dormiens, Chapter 2. 23 Draco Dormiens Chapter 3.
107 apace, with the additions of Ginny as another l ove-interest for Draco a nd a will-they-or-wontthey sexual tension between Draco a nd Harry, culminating in a kiss in Draco Veritas Its somewhat difficult to evaluate the Trilogy aesthetically, as so much of the plot and characterization have been absorbed into the fand om at large: the magical accident that forces Harry and Draco to spend time in each others company and shoes (literally), Dracos abuse at the hands of his father as the s pur to his rejection of Voldemort, Harry and Dracos discovery of their status as some form of s uper-wizards (here, called magids ), and Draco as a paragon of wit and style (if not self-awareness) were not fandom clichs when the Trilogy was begun, but have been so widely imitated since that Cassandra Clai re has been credited/blamed with the creation of Fanon Draco out of whole cloth and that cloth is leather. Black leather. Draco dons a pair of black leather pants in Draco Sinister and that detail, more than any other, has been seized upon by the fandom as a point of cont ention, as a symbol of all that is wrong or right with Fanon Draco. Of those people who wrote that kind of Draco before or around the same time Cassandra Claire did, the most significant is Rhysenn, whose Irresistible Poison also had a wide impact upon the fandom. Here, Harry and Draco accident ally ingest a love pot ion and spend fifteen chapters sorting out their feelings for each other. Rhysenn is cr edited with creating one of the first seriously angsty Dracos, and Irresistible Poison remains an enjoyable read; in the wake of Prince Poison looks positively prescient. While ne ver quite as influential as the Trilogy it nonetheless occupies an important spot in fa ndom history, not least because it established Harry/Draco as one of the pr emier Potter fandom ships.
108 Refinement: Mayas Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Rat? He who fights dirty survives, and gets to lie about the battles afterwards. It was a Malfoy motto, right after Loot, Pillage, Burn! and In the Name of the Dark Lord InsertName-Here!24 Almost as influential as the Draco Trilogy is Mayas Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Rat? which also features a magical accident (Draco is transformed into a rat) and eventual redemptive romance with one of the good guys (in this case, Hermione), but is far more of a pure romantic comedy a comedy of manners, as Aja ca lls it than the dramatic adventures of the Draco Trilogy This fic established Fanon Draco as a paragon of wit; Maya is one of the funniest writers in Potter fandom, and she milks an enormous amount of comedy out of Dracos situation. Draco is th e victim of a villainous plot th at results in his transformation into a fluffy white rat; no one witnesses this, and it is assumed that Draco has gone missing. However, he is scooped up and adopted by none ot her than Ron Weasley, who coos over him in a revolting manner and brings him back to live with the Gryffindors, where he quickly becomes the house pet, much to his chagrin. As a rat, he is unable to make hi mself heard or understood, no matter how loudly he shouts; however, his wo rds are heard subconsciously by the humans around him, who mistake them for their own thoughts some of the most h ilarious scenes in the story come when Draco discovers this and expl oits it for his own amusement (Let me ravish you on the bed, my gorgeous redhaired raunch puppet" ), and later, to help the Gryffindors sort out their tangled love lives, eventually sett ling Ron with Cho and Gi nny with Harry (its a running joke that vixen Ginny anticipates Draco s own innuendo-filled comments). Draco, living in close proximity with his hated enemies, grows to tolerate and then like them, while still retaining a healthy respect for Sl ytherin virtues of cunning. Even tually, Draco regains his human 24 Maya, Draco Malfoy, the Amazing Bouncing Rat? Chapter 2.
109 shape, unmasks the villain, retains his uneasy fr iendship with the Gryffindors, and declares his love for Hermione. The beauty of Rat lies not so much in its innovation, but in its refinement of pre-existing tropes: Maya wasnt the first to write witty Draco, sexy Draco, a magical accident throwing Draco into the arms of his enemies, or Snape teaching sex ed, but her renditions of these motifs are among the best in the fandom; I believe, howev er, that she was among the earlier writers to posit Draco has Veela ancestry a piece of fanon that became a joke when less accomplished writers got hold of it. A nother influential feature of Rat is its conception of a gentle moral universe: Mayas Draco doesn t need redemption so much as a scenery change, and the Slytherins are far too busy with their entertai ning sexual escapades to cook up evil schemes indeed, the villain turns out to be Gryffindor Colin Creevey, a nd his unmasking is farcical rather than fearsome. The Death Eaters mentioned only in passing, are silly and pathetic, and Dracos transformation is more of an inconvenience than a serious threat to his well-being. Although all the pairings explicitly described within this story are heterosexual, Mayas engagement with slash themes a nother famous story of hers is Underwater Light a foundational Harry/Draco epic have, as with the Draco Trilogy contributed to its continuing popularity in the slash-heavy Draco fandom. In Rat the slashy vibes are played more for comedy than romantic angst: Dracos return to human form is achieved, in true fairy tale fashion, via a kiss Ron places on top of rat-Dracos fuzzy head, which causes human-Draco to appear in Rons bed, completely naked to Seamuss everlasting trauma. Fanon Draco has always contained a heavy dose of camp, and Mayas is arguably the campiest of all, despite this storys heterosexual romance. This campy, ambiguously-oriented but universally-appealing
110 Draco is, even more so than the Draco Trilogy s Draco, the gold standard of the fanon conception of the character. Harry/Draco: Shipping Angst I don't understand why the fact that Malfoy is staying consistently cardboard and consistently git-like should be suddenly some earth-shattering thing that has arrived to crush the hopes of H/D shippers everywhere. Because Malfoy hasn't changed. He's still the Malfoy all of you fell in love with. He is st ill the Draco who all of YOU transformed into some larger-than-life fandom badass with leathe r pants and a sexy-but-sw eet interior. He is still the Draco all of us belie ved in and the Draco that we all hoped would be expanded and changed and brought forth into growth and maturity. So he hasn't been. So the fuck what?25 Harry/Draco, as borne out by the statistics of FF. N, is one of the most popular ships in the fandom. Most of the best-known fics are Harr y/Draco, especially amon g the novel-length stories that abound in the Potter fandom: Rhysenns Irresistible Poison Ajas Love Under Will Mayas Underwater Light not to mention the Draco Trilogy s slashy subtext. Of course, enemies who become lovers is one of the time-honored roma nce tropes, and the deli ght is in watching antagonists overcoming their differences, or at le ast overcoming their differences long enough to have sex. Harry/Draco can even be approach ed in a semi-canonical way: Draco has a demonstrable obsession with Harry, and his enmity is predicated upon Harrys initial rejection of his friendship. Of course, even with this running start, the hurdle remains: why would Harry be romantically interested in someone w ho stands for everything he hates? Prince helped a great deal, by showing a Harry canonically obsessed with Draco. Prior to Prince magical accidents, a la the Draco Trilogy abound: Harry and Draco have been Polyjuiced, love potioned, magnetized, and roped together as a means to facili tate romance. More mundane situations have also been pressed into play : school/army morale buildi ng, Harry having a psychological 25 Aja. OOTP, Harry/Draco, the Damnation of Slytherin, and the Right of Fans to Be Upset. June 25, 2003. Accessed March 4, 2007. AS.
111 breakdown, even hostage situations. Harry/Draco stories also sometimes come with a side of Ron-bashing: Ron, as Harrys best friend and Dracos most vocal critic, potentially poses a threat to Harry/Draco love. However, Harry/D raco could also coexist comfortably with the major het ship of Ron/Hermione, and a number of the more romantic Harry/Draco narratives ended with those happy couples. Harry/Draco exploded in popularity in the three-year wait between Goblet and Phoenix when the most popular Draco narratives were ei ther overtly or covertly Harry/Draco, and the character of Fanon Draco trul y solidified through constant reiteration. However, Phoenix was a major disappointment to Draco fans in general, a nd Harry/Draco fans in particular, and prompted a number of essays asserting th e death (or continued life) of the ship. Aja summarizes the problems for shippers: Frankly, OotP left us in a real bind--not an insurmountable bind, but a real, immediate hindrance to the ship. In my mind OOTP left the H/D shipper with two primary questions: how can Harry want Draco right now? and how can Draco forgive Harry for what he did to his father?26 Aja was frustrated with what she saw as Harry/D raco shippers refusal to engage with these questions, either by leaping forward in time to a post-Hogwarts, post-war setting, or by ignoring the events of Phoenix altogether and writing from the previously existing H/D dynamic--the one that was there before OOTP, where you had Harry and Draco playing out th eir lust/rivalry in a number of different ways (ibid.) A number of Draco stories took, in keeping with the general trend of the rest of the fandom, a turn for the extremely dark; see Chapter 4 for details. However, Prince breathed new life into the flagging ship, and Harry/Draco ship has regained its 26 Aja. H/D Fic, Post-OOTP, and How We Arent Writing Any. October 4, 2004. Accessed March 4, 2007. AS.
112 position at the forefront of th e fandom, although it now has to compete with the ever-morepopular Snape ships. This consideration of Harry/Dra co is a good place to begin di scussion of the broader issue of homoerotic narratives in fandom, as Harry/Dr aco is arguably a major reason for slash fictions popularity in the Potter fandom; while a number of experienced slash fans had migrated into Potter fandom, they tended to cluster in the Snap e sections, and it was left to the Draco fans to ensure that slash would become the dominant na rrative mode of Potter fanfic. In the next chapter, I will discuss the devel opment of slash fiction in Potter fandom, with special attention paid to the role played by the Harry/Draco ship.
113 CHAPTER 4 SUBTEXT IN HIDING: POTTER SLASH FANFICTION In a fannish landscape where one can, with mi nimal effort, find giant squid porn, house elf BDSM, and Weasley incest orgies, mere sl ash fanfiction starts to look positively tame The bulk of the scholarship on slash has tende d to treat the genre as if it we re a bizarre, isolated subgenre; however, in the Potter fandom, slash is widely pe rceived as the dominant form of fanfiction: a panel at The Witching Hour was entitled Het erosexuality and Feminism in a Male/Male Slashcentric Fandom (Holmes et al .). In the next chapter, I will discuss incest stories, a genre which has taken over a great deal of the subcultura l coding previously assigned to slash; in this chapter, I will treat the emergen ce of slash as the major genre pl ayer within the Potter fandom. The definition of what constitutes slash is contested. The broadest definition, and the one I favor for reasons explained below, is any fa nfiction that features a romantic and/or sexual relationship between characters of the same gender. The term arose in Star Trek fandom in the 1970s, referring to the punctuation mark separa ting the characters names (Kirk/Spock). The X/Y model indicated that the major romantic pairing was homosexual; st ories of heterosexual romance were labeled ST or adult ST (Penley NASA 102). Although later fandoms adopted the slash punctuation mark for al l romantic pairings (i.e., Hermi one/Ron), the term slash stuck, retaining its original meaning of homoerotic romance. The majority of slash is male/male, and most of the scholarship focuses upon this, but fema le/female slash certainl y exists and is worthy of study, and is sometimes marked as femslash, femmeslash, or even saffic. Like other forms of fanfiction, it is primarily, though not ex clusively, written by women; a great deal of non-fan writing about slash focuses upon the supp osed oddness of (mostly) heterosexual women writing erotica about (p ossibly) gay men.
114 Some fans and academics (especially those keen on slashs transg ressive and subversive potential) wish to narrow the definition, and cl aim that the same-gender relationship must be noncanonical. However, this qualification poses se veral problems. First, it does not reflect the way the term gets used within the fandom. The term slash functions in fandom as the binary opposite of het fic, which features romantic and sexual relationships between characters of different genders; as no one places a similar lim itation on het fics fan stories that concern canonical heterosexual pairings, su ch as Molly/Arthur, are still la beled het most fans reason that it doesnt make sense to apply the restriction to slash. Second, no one has ever come up with a satisfactory term for fanfic that concerns canonical same-sex relationships; in the fandom for the television program Queer as Folk fan stories about the canonical Brian/Justin relationship are still called slas h. Third, and perhaps most importa ntly, is that what constitutes canon is never an unproblematic issue: beyond the bare factual minimum, canon constitution and interpretation are a highly debated and controversial critical activity in the fannish milieu (Stasi 120). Many slash stories and pairings are predicated on a reading of subtext that fans claim is present in the canon: Remus Lupin/Si rius Black is defended, passionately, as canon by many fans, a reading which many other fans just as passionately oppose. The insistence that slash must transgress the existing canon rather tr oublingly assigns, to the canon, a heteronormativity it may not necessa rily possess, not to mention reinforcing the pernicious assumption that queer readings are always readings imposed from the outside.1 This is not to say that slash is not transgre ssive or subversive; in a homophobic culture that attempts to police or censor expressions of non-heteronormativity, any depiction of queerness, especially a positive, sympathetic depiction, qualif ies as such. However, for the reasons outlined 1 Stasi, Willis and Jones discuss this issue extensively.
115 above, I believe it is a mistake to claim that slash is intrinsically more transgressive/subversive of a given text than other forms of fanfiction. Scholars and Fans Slash has proven to be of enormous interest to academics, fannish and otherwise, and journalists. Slash, even more so than other fa nnish activities, has suffered at the hands of disapproving, sensationalistic j ournalism. Potter Porn, by Christopher Noxon, conflates slash with pornography, thus allowing Noxon to combine outrage over the production of homoerotic stories about Harry and company with outrage over perceived child pornography as many fans sourly noted as par for the course in such diatribes, there was no mention of, and thus no concomitant outrage over, porny het fics. Noxon then goes on to round up the most self-critical fan expressions of why I wr ite slash he can find, and crows over the self-confessed inadequacy of those he has mark ed as neurotic deviants. Ho wever, other journalists have written more laudatory and more responsible articles on slash: Noy Th rupkaews article Its a Fans World, in Bitch Magazine, was both sympathetic and very well-researched. Fans tend to evaluate journalistic treatments of slash more passively, judging the stories on the basis of how positively or negatively they port ray the community if the journalist belittles the fandom, the story is dismissed with expressions of irritation; if praised, fans cheer the author. But academic treatments of fandom, and slash in particular, are actively engaged with by fans, who read and debate the arguments presented, ap ply academic theory to their own practices, and create their own theories in response. Henry Jenkins is a fan favorite, not only for his honesty and openness about his own fannish activities, but also because his work is often seen as the most flexible and nuanced, and the least prone to making monolithic statements about why slash exists. The article (co-writte n with Cynthia Jenkins and Shoshanna Green), Normal Female
116 Interest in Men Bonking,2 critiques the totalizing tendenc y of much scholarship of slash fandom, including the preoccupation with straight females writing erotica about gay males, the treatment of slash as somehow isolated from othe r forms of fan discourse, and the search for a theory that can account for the phenomenon as a whole in defiance of fans own multivocal understandings of their own activ ities (Green et al. 11). For the reasons articulated in Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking, many fans have a somewhat conflicted relationship with academic studi es of slash. While most are pleased to see their interests and passions being treated as wort hy of study, and appreciate the fact that most academics avoid the look at the freaks! approa ch that characterizes many journalistic accounts, fans often express mixed feelings about the resu lts of academic inquiry. Camille Bacon-Smiths Enterprising Women is the most soundly critiqued academic study of slash. While she is generally laudatory of the subve rsive potential of slash, and of the communities of women dedicated to writing it, Bacon-Smiths vulgar Freudianism3 leads her to treat fans as patients to be diagnosed, and downplays their ab ility to correctly interpret e ither the source text or their own material. Bacon-Smith characterizes slash fans as somehow having failed to live up to societys expectations of heterosexual women, sm ugly reporting that a number of slash fans of her acquaintance were celibate, inexperienced in long-term heterosexual relationships, or morbidly obese (Bacon-Smith 248). (Even more overtly pathologizing is the recent work by Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons, which s hoehorns slash readers and writers into an extremely essentialist model of evolutionary ps ychology, arguing that slas h fans are example of abnormal female sexuality.) 2 In Harris, Theorizing Fandom 9-38. 3 Anne Kustritz. September 14, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ.
117 The existence of slash complicat ed conventional notions about womens interest in erotica in general, and the types of erotic material wo men were supposed to be interested in (i.e., heterosexual romance novels). It is unsurprisi ng that in most slash scholarship, slash is presented as a potential site of resistance to the dominant ideologies of patriarchal, heteronormative culture Anne Kustritz sums up the argument thus: slash offers its own particular challenge to normative constructions of gender and romance, as it allows women to construct narratives th at subvert patriarchy by re-appropriating those prototypical hero charact ers who usually reproduce wo mens position of social disempowerment. (371) Constance Penley, who draws upon the work of Joanna Russ and Patricia Frazer Lamb and Diana L. Veith, famously presents slash as a su bversive space, where women can articulate a fantasy of equality between romantic partners that is impossible in he terosexual relationships (Brownian, Feminism, NASA ). While a number of fans do agree with the assessment that slash is about equality, many fans point out that the equalit y trope is far from the only narrative explored in slash fiction. The nature of slash is a perennial topic of conversat ion within fandom; academic theories of slash, particularly Penleys equali ty theory, are referenced and critiqued within these discussions. Some fans claim that the conc ept of an equal partnership was what drew them into slash: It seems to me that the playing field starts out more equal, and so you have more room to play for explaining why slash is intellectually or creatively interesting, not just this sort of visceral ooh, I love response, the equality theory works well.4 The idea that gender equality throws other form s of inequality into sharper relief is one often referenced by fans. However, just as ma ny fans are prepared to critique the equality model: 4 Go Seaward. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ.
118 I'd think that theory hold s more weight if people wrote the relationships as equal rather than talking about them/idealiz ing homosexual relationships as equal. Because most slash fics of this variety read exactly as heterosexual fics woul d, except for the bit about masculine names. Occasionally, the sex even reads as heterosexual despite different bits.5 Another female fan links up her interest in power imbalances with the impossibility of experiencing male/male sexuality for herself in real life: I write/read slash 'cause I like the idea of two guys together. Period. Who gives a flying fig about equality?. [M]y preferred reading material is about power imbalances I'll never be a guy and therefore it's the brand of sexuality I find the most mysterious and intriguing. I enjoy thinking about it.6 Dira Sudis offers a historical perspective on the equality theory; she points out that the majority of slash scholarship, focusing as it does on Star Trek The Professionals and Starsky and Hutch have limited their theories of slash to th e stories about the best-friend male pairs (buddyslash) that were featured on those prog rams. But she argues that buddyslash is only one of three major forms of slash, th e other two being enemyslash (slash about characters that are rivals or enemies) and powersl ash, which slashes characters in unequal relationships (such as teacher/student), or explores the ineq ualities within a slash relationship: I think the three [buddyslash, enemyslash, powerslas h] deserve to be recognized at least as distinct subgenres within slash, if not wholly different anim als. I think that if you vastly prefer one of these, you're likely to be a slasher for different reasons than people who vastly prefer a different one. And I think that for purposes of explai ning it to people who don't slash at all, academics tend to be l ooking at buddyslash unless they say otherwise.7 A number of fans expressed frustration with the univocality (Green et al 11) of the scholarship: I dislike not only the single motive and cause fo r all slash writers, but the urge to find a motive at all, to pathologies slash writing as if it must have a diagnosab le cause. That's not, 5 Verstehen. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 6 GMTH. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 7 Dira Sudis. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ.
119 for example, how people approach fiction writing in general. Most academic writing on slash messes it up for that reason.8 And: It never fails to amaze me the way people over-analyze women when it comes to sex. If we were men writing femmeslash no one would bat an eye.9 As noted above, slash is an activity engage d in primarily by women. Fans both embrace and question the argument put forth by Russ, and echoed by just about ever y other scholar on the topic, that slash is porn ography by women, for women, with love. Fans acknowledge and celebrate the concept of slas h writers as a community of women, though are divided upon how much slash has to do with feminism, how much it has to do with subversion, and how much it has to do with queerness; as many fans point out, these issues vary enormously from writer to writer, from pairing to pairing, and even from stor y to story. A number of fans resist the concept of subversion as a primary motive for writing slas h at all; as Bartle_by jokes, And all this time I was writing slash because it was hawt, who knew I was damning the man at the same time?10 And Kanna Ophelia mocks those self-sat isfied Penley-quoting slash writers who author little Why I Write Badly-Written Male-M ale Porn and Why That Makes Me A Radical Subversive essays.11 Therealjae, however offers a nuanced reading of the feminist poten tial of slash, which gives weight to academic univocality wh ile not negating fannish multivocality: I think when it comes to this hobby of ours, it' s so important to differentiate between the intents of the individual and the impact of the collective. On the level of an individual writer, the intent (and indeed, even the impact) of that writer's work can have more or less 8 Cursive. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 9 GMTH. Comment on LJ. January 6, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2006. 10 Bartle_by. Comment on Fandom Wank. April 26, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2006. JF. 11 Kanna Ophelia. Comment on Fandom Wank. April 26, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2006. JF.
120 to do with queerness than with feminism, more or less to do with sex than with subversive politics (or more or less to do w ith either of those than with story), more or less to do with women than with men. But when we're talki ng about the level of the fannish community, it's hard to argue that we're not all participa ting in something larger than ourselves that looks an awful lot like a feminist political act.12 As an extension of the con cept of slash as pornography by a nd for women, the question of what, if anything, male/male slash has to do with ga y men, real or fictional, often arises. While many fans are in agreement that slash is far more about womens desires ra ther than real-world gay men, the issue of real-world gay rights is of ten not perceived as entirely separate. As Valartd comments, Writing slash is not activis m. Getting out and working with your local Gay and Lesbian Center is. But slash can be a gateway to that level of activism. 13 Some fans, like Cathexys, worry about objectification: I am concerned with the fetishization of the gay male body, but I think the fact that we again and again address this issue indicates th at there is a concern and not just mindless objectification.14 Every so often, a fan will pop up who likes slash, but objects to real-w orld homosexuality. Such announcements invariably end up on Fandom Wa nk. The vast majority of slash fans tend to be socially liberal or pr ogressive, especially where homosexuality is concerned; while individual fans may see their i nvolvement in slash as being more connected or less connected to their support for social justice, fans who receive gratification from fictional depictions of homosexuality but dont want to ex tend civil rights to real-world gays and lesbians are often greeted with derision. The Brat Queen, while acknow ledging that people fantasize about all sorts of things they would not condone in real life, se rves up an oft-quoted summation of this fannish attitude: 12 Therealjae. Comment in Aeryes LJ. April 3, 2003. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 13 Valartd. Comment on Fanthropology. May 10, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 14 Cathexys. Comment on Fanthropology. May 10, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ.
121 the question has arisen of whether or not be ing a slash fan yet being firmly against the rights of gays to marry makes one a hypoc rite. I don't know if it makes you a hypocrite, but it sure as hell makes you an asshole.15 A discussion in Aeryes LJ touched upon all these issues and more, and reaffirmed the multivocality of slash fandom. Aerye describes her attempt to navigate between the discourses of slash, both academic and fannish: I've often felt stranded between two camps in slash -the slash is about gayness camp and the slash is about women camp. Because for me slash is about queerness and women; I am as reluctant to try to disenta ngle these notions in slash as I am to disentangle them in my life. I've always been uncomfortable w ith the notion that qu eerness had nothing to do with slash... As a friend of mine has said, slas h can sometimes feel like a minstrel show if you're queer a parody that appropriates the markers of queerness without assimilating the experience. [Another fans] comment seem s to create a connection between female sexuality and queerness that makes sense to me, that resonates. It seems to leave room for the notion that queerness (not queer iden tity, but queerness as strange and unusual sexuality) as an aspect of char acter is part of slash a bl urring of sexual lines, something "strange and unusual". Queer act s, not queer identity. And I' m drawn to that notion.the collective act, the co llective phenomenon, can be feminist without all of the individual women participating self -identifying as such.16 Julad, in response, proposes an excellent, workab le theory of slash. Articulating slash as a space she moves slash theorizing, both fannish a nd academic, away from its previous focus upon the actors, sidestepping the univocal/multivocal conflict; in addition, she brings into focus the concept of slash as potential : [S]lash is not so much queer in the act as it is queer in the space Slash is a sandbox where women come to be strange and unusual, or to do strange and unusual things, or to play with strange and unusual sand. The wo men may be queer or not, strange or not, unusual or not. The many different acts a nd behaviours of slash may be queer or not, strange or not, unusual or not. The queerness may be sexualised or it may not, and what is sexual for one woman may not be for another. The space is simply that: a space, where women can be strange and unusual a nd/or do strange and unusual things.17 15 The Brat Queen. February 19, 200 4. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 16 Aerye. April 3, 2003. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ. 17 Julad. Comment in Aeryes LJ. April 3, 2003. Accessed August 30, 2006. LJ.
122 Harry Potter Slash: The Beast in the Plumbing Because of its uncertain legal status in relation to copyright laws, Potter fanfiction is, of necessity, unofficial -it must operate beyond the pale of institutio nalized literature in order to avoid retribution from copyright ho lders in this case, Warner Brot hers. While fans are not able to capitalize on their writing in terms of money or official reco gnition, fan writers who wish to tell controversial stories are co mpensated by not being restricted to institutionalized discourses. Julads concept of slash as queer space can be extended outward to include fanfiction as a whole a place for women (and some men) to be st range and unusual and do strange and unusual things. Slash is that portion of the space devoted specifically to queer discourses; like other forms of fanfiction, the unofficial nature of the space means that fan writers are under no obligation to accept the dominant, heteronorma tive discourses of queer sexuality. Slash, like other forms of fanfic tion, initially circulated by wa y of self-published zines. Because of the controversial nature of the material, slash, even more so than het or gen fic, was restricted to those who knew the right people, in order to be put on mailing lists, and had the financial resources to order zi nes and attend conventions. All the issues of the move from printzines to the Internet, as discussed in Chapte r 1, affected slash even more than other genres of fanfic. The vast majority of the influential academic studies of slash date from the pre-Internet period, and the theories put forth by academics reflect this. In a la ndscape dominated by Kirk/Spock romance the equality theory makes a gr eat deal of sense. Market forces and the limitations of technology meant that those fa ns who preferred, say, Chekov/tribble bondage18 18 To invoke a fannish truism, so mebody, somewhere, has written that.
123 had far fewer chances to publish their stories. Th e fans critiquing the equality theory have access to a much wider range of stories than did pre-Internet fans and fan researchers. Potter fandom particularly resists univocal th eories of slash. Sin ce the Potter fandom was born and bred on the Internet, Potter fans neve r experienced the top-dow n editorial control of zine-based fandoms. Fan communities develop thei r own cultural norms for what is or is not acceptable in fanfiction; in small fandoms wher e everyone knows each other, those rules can extend over the fandom as a whole. As discusse d in Chapter 1, the sheer size of the Potter fandom makes this impossible; the result is very much a fandom of subgroups, and each subgroup can churn out its own stories for its own audience with impunity. The enormous number of people participating in the online fand om almost guarantees that however outr your fanfictional desires, somebody will share them a nd will have written a story, or be willing to read yours. Moreover, while slash has always been far less isolated from the general fannish landscape than many academic accounts would have readers believe19 just as fanfiction in general has been treated as if isolat ed from literary discourse as a whole20 -it is perceived as a dominant mode of fanficti on within the Potter fandom. The fragmentation of the fannish landscape m eans that Potter slash is not dominated by a fandom-wide One True Pa iring (OTP), the way Star Trek was by Kirk/Spock. The most popular slash pairing is Harry/Draco, follo wed by Sirius/Remus. Some of th e early stories in the Potter fandom were Harry/Draco; the popular ity of these stories inspired ot her fans to try their hands at the pairing. After the release of Goblet the fandom grew to ga rgantuan proportions, and Harry/Draco grew accordingly, helped along by the Big Name Fan (BNF) status of the early 19 As noted by Green et al. 11 20 As discussed by Derecho, Stasi, and Woledge.
124 writers, including Aja, Rhysenn, and Maya. Ev entually, there appeared such a glut of Harry/Draco stories that older fa ns who felt the possibilities of the pairing had been exhausted, and newer fans who had no interest in the pairin g at all, began producing reams of stories about other characters. The nature of Internet technology m eant that the popularity of Harry/Draco did not limit the existence of other pa irings, but rather, enabled other slash pairings to flourish writers were not being pressured by market for ces to keep churning out Harry/Draco, and fans who didnt like the pairing had equal access to the means of publication. Perhaps most importantly, the sheer number of Harry/Draco stories meant that fan readers who had never heard the term slash were certain to be exposed to it, and thus more likely to become slash writers themselves. Slash about Harry and Draco, who are enemies in canon, complicates academic theories of slash that are predicated upon the Kirk/Spock b uddyslash model. Jenk ins, referencing Eve Kosofsky Sedgwicks articulation of hom osocial desire (1985), argues that [s]lash throws conventional not ions of masculinity into cr isis by removing the barriers blocking the realization of ho mosocial desire. Slash unm asks the erotics of male friendship, confronting the fears keeping men from achieving intimacy. ( Poachers 205) While this is an excellent model for talki ng about Kirk/Spock, Star sky/Hutch, or in the Potter fandom, Harry/Ron, it clearly cannot function as a global assessment of slash in this day and age, if indeed, it ever could. Jenkins, al ways nuanced, does mention other, non-buddy forms of slash, but other writers have tended to treat slash as if it were identical with buddyslash. Harry/Draco, as an enemyslash pairing, must negotiate a somewhat different semiotics of masculinity21 than Harry/Ron, and Harry/Snape, as bot h enemyslash and powerslash, is a different beast altogether. Even though these br oad narrative patterns can be discerned in Potter 21 Modleski, quoted in Jenkins Poachers 207.
125 slash, its important to note that there really is no such thing as a t ypical Potter slash story: with such a variety of characters available, the tropes in Potter slash tend to be highly dependent upon the characters being paired. There is no such thing as a t ypical Potter slash story, but there are typical Harry/Draco or Fred /George or Remus/Sirius stories. Fear of a homophobic response, or a struggle wi th internalized homophobia is, as Jenkins notes ( Poachers 205), an effective way of creating tens ion in a buddyslash story. However, Harry and Draco are mortal enemies, which crea tes an enormous amount of tension on its own; while a number of Harry/Draco stories deal with homophobia, it can have the effect of gilding the lily. Fred/George, a buddyslash pairing (compl ete with mind-melding) if ever there was one, faces a similar problem the fact that the characters are brothers is liable to cause them more anxiety than the fact that theyr e both male -if it causes them a ny anxiety at all, as Fred and George are the Potter books reside nt tricksters (see Chapter 5). Indeed, many Potter slash stories completely igno re the issue of homopho bia, or articulate it in different ways. One factor is the more wi despread (Muggle-world) societal acceptance of gays and lesbians, so both authors and characters may feel less of a need to have characters confront homophobia in themselves and others than in earlier fanfiction. The were not gay, we just love each other trope that featured in so mu ch pre-Internet slash is rare in Potter slash. Again, the more widespread acceptance of gays a nd lesbians, and thus no corresponding need to distance characters from the term, has had an e ffect. The sometime corollary, Ive never been with another man before, tends not to be load ed with the homophobic ove rtones of earlier slash -where the implication was often that theres no possible way tomcat Kirk could ever have been attracted to another man, but his connection with Spock is simply that transcendent. In Potter slash, given the ages of many of th e characters, its quite likely th at first time with a man is
126 going to be first time, period. And the fact th at so many of the charact ers are teenagers, and teenagers in a British boarding school, no less, ca rries its own powerful discourse this will be discussed in more detail later, but for now, that the characters are hor ny teenagers is often treated as good enough justification for any variety of sexual activity, hetero, homo, incestuous, intergenerational, or interspecies, Another key feature of the Kirk/Spock mode l is that the characters will embark upon a committed, monogamous relationship buddyslash as a genre tends to argue that characters are soulmates, and understand each other be tter than anyone else ever could.22 Its the model of the heterosexual genre romance novel, and it furnishe s enemyslash, also, with narrative momentum. While a great many Potter slash st ories do, in fact, move toward this end, romance ending in committed relationship is far from the only story told by slash writers. PWPs (Plot? What Plot? or Porn Without Plot) stories abound, as th ey always have. But th e size and diversity of the Potter fandom means that fans can, and do, e xperiment with narratives outside these models, and those experimental works can gain currency in the fandom. Queering the Canon Ive been narrowing my focus throughout this chapte r, from slash in general, to slash in the context of academic thought, to Potter slash in rela tion to slash as a whole. Now, I wish to discuss some of the specifics of Potter slash fandom, and how the fanfiction is shaped by the canon. There are a number of cu ltural and literary narratives invoked within the Potter books, and gleefully seized upon by fans, that le ave the text open to a slash reading. Whether slash fans view their pairings as supported or unsupported by canon, and how important that is, varies from pairing to pa iring, and from fan to fan. Some fans argue 22 Woledge calls this soul mate-space initimatopia.
127 unapologetically that their favored pairing is ca non, and, in the case of Sirius/Remus, a decent chunk of the fandom will agree. At Nimbus 2003, which took place shortly after the release of Phoenix a speaker shouted, JOINT CHRISTMAS PR ESENTS! a reference to the set of books given, by Sirius and Remus together, to Harry23 -which earned a resounding cheer from the audience. In addition to the characters obvi ous affection for one another, fans cite the coding of Remuss werewolfism as a terminal illn ess correlated to AIDS -victims, while posing a genuine danger to others, are subject to fear and discrimination far out of proportion to their likelihood of infecting others.24 One of the most interesting Re mus/Sirius stories, The Most Ridiculous First Name I Ever Heard, by Mous apelli, takes this argument to a terrifying conclusion, and argues that the lycanthropy virus becomes, when transmitted to Muggles, HIV and Gaetan Dugas, AIDS Patient Zero, wa s the name Remus had chosen for himself on his travels.25 Fans also point out that of all the anim agi (wizards who can change into animals) depicted in the series, Remus and Sirius ar e the only two characte rs who are physically compatible in both human and animal forms. And last but not least, Siriuss death in Order of the Phoenix does follow the established trope in early gay-themed YA literature that homosexual characters must be lonely, tormented, and then die26 though he is dispatched by a fall through a veil rather than a car crash. Remus/Sirius slash stories e xplore all these themes and mo re, especially concentrating upon the characters school days in the 1970s perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a certain 23 Phoenix 501. 24 Philip Nel reports that Rowling specifically designed the response to Lupins werewolf ism to be a metaphor for peoples reactions to illness and disab ility (Nel 15-16); as fans realized, th e discourse of AIDS seems to be a primary influence. 25 Mousapelli. Accessed August 30, 2006. AS. 26 Cart 225-6, and Cart and Jenkins
128 number of Glam Rock Sirius st ories. Alfonso Cuarons film of Prisoner of Azkaban strengthened the argument even further. The film contains a number of lines not found in the book which seem to justify a homoerotic reading: Snape accuses Sirius and Remus of arguing like an old married couple; when Remus begins his (in the book, involuntary) change to wolf form, Sirius makes a non-book-supported app eal to Remuss human ity, embracing him and shouting this is not the man you are inside!; and finally, Remus explains his resignation by saying that parents will not want a, um, someone like me teaching their children. (In the book, he simply says werewolf.27) All of these were happily taken as support for the Remus/Sirius reading of the text. Other fans couldnt care less abou t the canonicity, or lack thereo f, of their favorite pairing, but will still argue for subtext, and scour the text for details that can be spun into a story. And the nature of support is taken with varying degrees of seriousn ess: when Ron declared that going out with Lavender Brown was like going out with th e giant squid ( Prince 450) fans jokingly declared Ron/squid ca non how would he know what da ting the giant squid was like unless? Also, as one fan put it, The British Wizarding World is its ow n made-up society, and we don't know all that much about its sexual mores.28 In other words, fans have a great deal of freedom to imagine the discourse of homosexuali ty in the wizarding world, and many actively construct or passively assume a more tolerant culture than that of the Muggle world. New canon invariably produces loads of fanf iction and not only about whatever new characters are introduced. Canon is able to dram atically invigorate li ttle-known or stagnating slash ships. Phoenix featured Harry and Snape forced to become uncomfortably intimate with 27 Azkaban 423. 28 Anonymous. Comment on Fandom Wank. September 26, 2005. August 30, 2006. JF.
129 each other Snape is teaching Harry how to pr event Voldemort from reading his thoughts by reading Harrys thoughts; Harry, angry and frustr ated, does the wizarding e quivalent of reading Snapes diary, and peeks at Snapes most secr et, humiliating memory. Snape/Harry (Snarry) fans rejoiced, and many fans who had never been in terested in the pairing before were inspired to write it. And Prince as was seen in Chapter 3, gave Harry /Draco fans their previously elusive holy grail a Harry fixated upon Draco. Before this book, the problem faced by Harry/Draco writers was that, while Draco is canonically obse ssed with Harry, Harry has never seen Draco as anything more than a passing nuisance. (To overc ome this, fans devised a number of ingenious schemes, often involving magical accidents, to force the two t ogether; for example, Rhysenns Irresistible Poison had Harry and Draco accidentally ingest a love potion.) In Phoenix, Draco barely registered in the book at all, which had the effect of slowing down production in the already saturated Harry/Draco portion of the fandom. Snape/Draco writers, though fewer in number and a bit drowned out by the cheers of the Harry/Draco crowd, were also immensely pleased with Prince and immediately started work on a plet hora of stories that can be summed up as: Snape and Draco, on the run from Death Eate rs and the Ministry alike, comfort each other sexually or have angry resentful sex. Harry slashers squealed over the number of times Harry described a male character (usually Tom Riddl e) as handsome. Little things, perhaps, especially when compared with the overt Ha rry/Ginny romance plot, but more than enough to construct a story around and in fa ndom, thats all one needs. The construction of the Potterverse itself, as well as its characters, invokes an enormous variety of literary and cultural narratives, some of which lend themselves to slashy readings. Fans long anticipated the argument put forth by Pugh and Wallace (264-5) that Harrys discovery of his wizard nature is akin to a coming-out narra tive he is rescued from a literal closet, and his
130 relatives horrified reactions bear a striking resemblance to the language of homophobia, especially in the way they fli ng about words like abnormality ( Chamber 2) as weapons. Thus, the entire wizarding world can, from the perspect ive of the Muggle realm, be read as queer space. Even more telling is Harrys destination: Hogwarts is a British boarding school, an institution that is so consistently coded as queer space that its practically shorthand for homosexuality, British-style29; the English vice is defined as a taste for either flogging or buggery, the origin of both being traced to the bo arding school environment. The school story has a long pedigree in childre ns literature, starting with Tom Browns Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, published in 1857. Hughess novel was the template for all other school stories that came after it; while the bulk of the text exalts the boarding sc hool as the ideal place to form manly Christian servants of the empire, a curi ous passage, emphasized by a footnote, troubles the complacent uprightness of the text: He was one of the miserable little pretty white-handed curly-headed boys, petted and pampered by some of the big fellows, who wrote their verses for them, taught them to drink and use bad language, and did all they c ould to spoil them for everything in this world and the next. (Hughes 233) The footnote coyly claims there were many noble friendships between big and little boys, but I cant strike out the passage ; many boys will know why it was left in. The adult version of the genre dispenses with the coyness; Stephen Frys The Liar and pornographic novels like the works of Chris Kent in cluding, appropriately enough, The Real Tom Browns Schooldays -among many others, depict boarding school as a locus for homoerotic encounters. Although Hogwarts is a coed school, which neutralizes some of the queer encoding, students are still somewhat isolated from th e opposite gender, and live without privacy among students of the same gender, which affords ample temptation and opportunity for homosexual 29 For a thorough discussion of the history of homosexuality in the British boarding school, see Hickson.
131 acts. Stories in which the characters are in the same dormitory -Harry and Ron, Percy and Oliver, Crabbe and Goyle frequently use this lack of privacy as the catalyst for slash; there are dozens of stories in which one character wa lks in on or overhears another character masturbating, or calling out in his sleep. Percy/Oliver has the part icular advantage of being the only two named Gryffindor boys of th eir year, so fans have writte n them as having the dormitory all to themselves. Quidditch players have postgame showers, prefects have a special bathroom, and of course all students ha ve access to the Astronomy Tower, sundry abandoned classrooms and broom closets, dark corners of the library, the Room of Requirement (which features in enough stories to qualify as a character in its own right), and Snapes desk. Fetishized accoutrements of boarding school life, especially emblems of power such as prefect badges and canes, have all been featured in stories, especially BDSM-inflected narratives. While other highly structured sex-segregated communities, such as the military, are coded as homoerotic, the cocktail of teenage hormone s lends boarding school narratives a special potency. Teenage characters newfound overwhelming desires are, to a certain extent, coded as a get-out-of-jail-free card for all manner of sexual behavior; homosexual activity among teenagers can be winked at as experimentation. Not that fan writers dismiss the plight of gay teenagers or construct homosexuality as something that characters will grow out of, but the narrative of horny teenagers experi menting means that slashers do not have to depict characters going through a lot of soul-searching about their attraction to the same gender, unless the author wants that to be a major issue of the story. It also frees up writers to concentrate on eroticism, rather than social issues. Published YA novels, a category to which the Potter books belong, do not have this luxury. Roberta Se elinger Trites observes that th e majority of YA novels about gay and lesbian teens
132 are very Foucaultian in their tendency to privilege the discour se of homosexuality over the physical sexual acts of gay men, defining homose xuality more rhetorically than physically. (102-3) She later states that [d]enyi ng the corporeality of homosexu ality too easily divorces it from pleasure, which potentia lly disempowers gay sexuality (114). Published YA novels, hemmed in as they are by institutional discourse s of teenage and queer sexuality, not to mention that of bibliotherapy, have, until fairly recentl y, shied away from graphic depictions of gay sex, and even non-explicit gay and le sbian novels for teens are singled out for localized repression in the form of censorship and book-burnings. But sl ash, like all fanfiction, is subject to no such constraints; while its im portant to note that not all slash is pornographic, the poi nt is that it can be. Slash fans can be as graphi c or as circumspect as they wi sh, but on the whole, the balance tips decisively toward th e frankly physical. This is perhaps especially important for t eenage slash fans, of which the Potter fandom contains a great many. Potter slash not only expose s teenagers to discours es of homosexuality outside of the culturally offici al stances marketed to them, but also enables young writers to explore those alternative discourses for themse lves, with the support of a community of likeminded readers and writers. Fanfiction in general is often articulated as a refusal to simply be a passive consumer of media, but to actively engage with texts; slash fict ion expands this textual engagement to issues of queer representation. Fo r Potter fans, teenagers or adults, slash is an opportunity to explore relationships between ch aracters in a manner beyond culturally demanded heteronormativity.
133 CHAPTER 5 KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: INCEST NARRATIVES IN HARRY POTTER FAN FICTION As we have seen, the vast and fragmented spaces of Harry Po tter online fandom have enabled readers and writers to make inroads into a number of traditionally taboo areas, including underage sexuality, non-consensual sex, and the topi c under consideration here : incest. Incest is one of the most thriving subgenres within the Potter fandom, and writers draw upon a wide range of literary, social, and psychologica l narratives about incest to cr eate their stories; with the mainstreaming of slash within the Potter fandom incest has taken over some of that genres subcultural coding. A number of exceptionally tale nted writers have tackled the theme of incest, usually locating their stories within the Weasley or Malfoy families; the specific situations Rowling has created for each of these families invoke a number of tropes that fans have taken as suggestive of incest narratives. The complexity of the theme is explored by these writers in several configurations, from consen sual sibling love to cruel pare ntal abuse: stories illuminate not simply the dynamics of incest itself, but act as windows into the characters of the transgressive lovers. Reader s and writers of fanfiction know the characters they are writing about, and thus, fan stories are never simply rote inscriptions of our cultu ral narratives of the Depraved/Oppressed Siblings, or th e Cruel Father, or the Betrayed Child: rather, incest fics are often multilayered examinations of literary and cultural narratives of incest as experienced through the eyes of Fred and George, or Draco and Lucius, or Ron and Ginny. Incest, in its multiple and contradictory form s, has long been a con cern of literature: Sophocles, Ovid, Chaucer, John Ford, Byron, Pe rcy Shelley, Mary Shel ley, Poe, Melville, Faulkner and Angela Carter have all treated the incest theme in their works, with varying degrees of horror, outrage, disgust, sympathy, and compassion; a parallel tradition in pornography emphasizes mere prurience. In th is chapter, I discuss Gothic and Romantic depictions of incest,
134 as the narratives of transgressive fa milial desire exhibited in the lite rature of that period appear to have had the greatest impact upon the Potter fandoms discourse of incest. I am not arguing that specific Gothic and Romantic texts are absorbed into the fandom by direct transmission though the Potter fandom is, after all, a literary one, and contains a number of widely-read authors who cite any number of literary sources as inspiratio n for their stories. Instead, I am considering Gothic and Romantic as modes of narrating incest, that, while inspired by the texts of that period, are not solely bound either to the specific literary works or to that historical time frame. The second book in the Potter series, Chamber of Secrets is very much a Gothic text and the primary source book for writers of incest fic. Psychoanalysis, that most Gothic of methodologi es, is another way to tell the incest story. While acts of incest are generally construc ted as marginal, committed by those upon the extremes of culture or of esta blished notions of ment al health, Freud placed Oedipal incestuous desire at the very center of hi s configuration of the psyche. Otto Rank, a contemporary of Freud and author of the most thorough and comprehe nsive orthodox psychoanalytic study of the incest theme, claims that incest is from a purely psyc hological point of view th e most natural form of sexual intercourse (Rank 30) I am primarily interested in psychoanalysis, particularly popular understandings of its methods and subjects, as a storytelling mode, rather than a therapeutic or analytical tool; the critical tradition that links th e Gothic with psychoanalysis also features in my analysis of the incest theme in Potterverse fa n fiction. Fans are as well-versed in popFreudianism as anyone else in our culture, a nd are not averse to invoking the leitmotifs of psychoanalytic constructs of desire. However, I have abstained from utilizing psychoanalysis to speculate upon the appeal of incest fiction with in the fandom, as such attempts often appear facile and intrusive. In keeping with the rest of my dissertation, I have therefore chosen to frame
135 my discussion of the appeal of incest fic in term s of literary precedent and cultural narratives -following the example of scholars of the incest theme such as Twitchell, Ford, and Richardson. Incest narratives in the Potter fandom are numerous and visible, with Weasley incest stories (Weasleycest) leading the pack. Deba tes spring up occasionally about the morality (or irrelevance of morality) in writi ng such stories. A search through the archives of Fandom Wank reveals that such debates are cyc lical; every generation of fans seems to need to refight questions concerning not just incest, but any depiction of non-mainstream or non-normative sexuality or sex acts (see Chapter 2). Potter fandoms first la rge-scale incest debate occurred in January 2004, and spiraled into a larger debate about minors access to sexually explicit fan fiction.1 Given the current prevalence of incest fic, it may seem surprising that it took that long for the issue to become a controversy. However, the preGoblet incest writers tended to lie somewhat low, and the incest writers of 2002, includi ng Marvolo, Rhoddlet, and Kay Taylor, were producing sophisticated literary work for a smallis h group of fans who appreciated such things and were not fazed by the subject matter. The hi gh quality of the stories of this latter group of fans drew in more readers, a number of whom eventually tried their hands at the genre, and by the release of Phoenix in 2003, incest fic was a thriving ge nre, and thus more visible to censorious eyes. For the most part, fans tend toward a live-andlet-live attitude. Dont like, dont read is a common refrain, especially when concerning issues such as incest, underage sexuality, and nonconsensual sex, which fan writers traditionally warn for in the headings of their stories; warnings not only allow readers to avoid stories containing material they dont wish to read, but also for those who do wish to find such stories as a number of fa ns point out, this is a greater 1 See Fandom Wank for details. JF.
136 courtesy than one will find in the case of comm ercially-published works. Warnings, therefore, also function as a means of cla ssification. Incest, in fan classi fication, seems to function as a dominant category: no matter what other ca tegories a story may belong to (slash, het, underage, non-consensual, BDSM, and so on), the st ory will almost always be classed as incest first. For example, stories that are both incest and slash which most are, as the majority of possible incest pairings in the Potterverse are homosexual tend to be mo re about incest than they are about homosexual desire. The con cerns about attraction to/involvement with a relative usually overrides characters concerns about a ttraction to/involvement w ith a member of the same sex. Likewise, the issues of underage sexuality and consent ar e overshadowed by the incest. Many Malfoy incest narra tives (Malfoycest) feature an underage Draco, but the fact that his partner is his father is, in the story, more important than the fact that his partner is an adult or a male. Unlike, say, Harry/Snape, storie s, there is no way of neutralizing the problems of consent by aging up the characters; no matter th e age of the participan ts, the parent/child power differential will always exist, and issues of consent will always be dubious. Why the Weasleys and the Malfoys? The majority of incest narratives within the Potter fandom are about the Malfoys, or, far more commonly, the Weasleys. While incest fic about other families (the Patils, the Creeveys, and, especially after Prince the Blacks and the Gaunts) exists, the numbers are dwarfed by the enormous presence of Malfoycest and Weasleycest. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that the Weasleys and the Ma lfoys, as families, are major characters with a good deal of stage time, and have dedicated fan followings. However, the background and circumstances of both families supply crucial tropes invoked within both popular and literary discourses of incest, particularly with regard to class and weal th, which makes the characters in many ways ideal participan ts in incest dramas.
137 Incest in popular narra tive is often associated with the hi ghest and lowest strata of society. Many mythologies, including Gr eek, Roman, Egyptian, and Indi an contain examples of sanctioned divine incest: The view of incest as an act denied to men but permitted to the gods is a staple of ancient mythology where the heavens are populated by precisely the kind of breeding forbidden to men (Twitchell 43). By extension, the highest echelons of human society, royal dynasties, have trad itionally married relatives of varying closeness in order that their blood and property not be sullied by admixtur e with those of less ex alted rank: Incest eliminates the admission of a stranger into an established bloodline a crucial point when that bloodline is already deemed optimal (Ford 7). At the same time, incest is also popularly figured to be a problem of the poorest of the poor, whether rural hillbil lies or urban slum dwellers. The linking of incest with the lowest r ung on the social ladder is often contradictory: hillbilly narratives point to rural isolation as the culprit, while overcrowded conditions are blamed for incestuous acts among the city poor.2 In the Potterverse, the pureblood wizarding families those families that can trace their wizarding ancestry back many genera tions are considered by some to be superior to those wizards who come from Muggle or mixed fa milies. Within canon, the wizarding worlds distinction between purebloods, Muggleborns, and Muggles themselves is expressed entirely in terms of blood: one is born either with or wit hout the ability to do magi c. Wizards on Rowlings side of good leave it at that: en try to and status within wizard ing culture is based solely upon ones possession of that inborn ability. However, evil wizards, like Voldemort and his followers, place a premium upon ones immediate origins whether one comes from a wizarding or Muggle family. Interestingly, this bigotry is never, in canon, expre ssed in the rhetoric of culture 2 Twitchell 138.
138 (they just dont understand our ways), but exclusively in terms of blood, as the term pureblood indicates; mudblood, a derogatory term for a Muggle-born wizard, likewise emphasizes blood, not upbringing this distincti on corresponds in many ways to real-world extra-fictional racism. However, this rhetoric of blood, that defines th e categories of pureblood and mudblood, is articulated by the good characters as fallacious Ron, defining mudblood for Hermione and Harry, explains: Dirty blood, s ee. Common blood. Its ridiculous. Most wizards these days are half-bl ood anyway. If we hadnt marr ied Muggles wedve died out ( Chamber 116). While racial issues in the Pott erverse do not correspond exactly to real-word racial issues, 3 its worth noting that Rowling was insp ired by Nazi rhetoric in creating the mindset of her villains4; indeed, its a key plot point that Voldemort, like Hitler, shares ancestry with those he considers undesirable. Rowlings pureblood-Muggleborn ri valry, while utilizing the rhet oric of racism, owes as much to constructions of class, especially the tr aditional British and European class system. In Phoenix, Harry comes upon an impressive tapestry delineating the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, whose motto is Toujours Pur To his surprise, Ha rry discovers that his godfather, Sirius Black, is closely related to both the Malfoys and Lestranges. Sirius explains: The pureblood families are all interrelated, said Sirius. If youre onl y going to let your sons 3 Blake: The concepts pure blood and mudblood have nothing to do with skin color, or nation or culture of origin. (107) He goes on to note that characters of color, such as Parvati and Padma Patil, Dean Thomas, Cho Chang and Lee Jordan, are ordinary supp orting characters, not racial stereotype s. In addition, what in our world would be termed interracial romantic relationships are not remarked upon as such Harry has a crush on Cho and a date with Parvati, and Ginny is dating Dean Thomas in Phoenix and Prince Far more attention is paid, at least in the form of taunts from Draco, to Harrys and especia lly Rons association with the Muggle-born Hermione. However, it is worth clarifying that Blake is referring to real-world cultures of origin as irrelevant within the text although the Muggle/wizard division is figured as one of bl ood, it is certainly one of culture, as well, not least the cultural articulation of what is meant by blood. 4 Rowling, J.K. FAQ: Why are some people in the Wizading World (e.g., Harry) called half-blood even though both their parents were magical? J.K. Rowling.com Accessed February 27, 2007. < http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/faq_view.cfm?id=58 >
139 and daughters marry purebloods, your choice is very limited, there are hardly any of us left (113). The analogy to the proverbially inbred European royal houses haunted by inherited diseases of the blood -is clear. However, one pureblood family is prominently excluded from the Black family tapestry: the Weasleys. According to Sirius, Molly and I are cousins by marriage and Art hurs something like my second cousin once removed. But theres no point in looking for them on here if ever a family was a bunch of blood traitors its the Weasleys. (113) This confirms Rons earlier asse rtion of the fictitious nature of pureblood claims: the pureblood families erase Muggles, Squibs, and those with whom they disagree politically from their family trees. It simultaneously highlig hts the attempts to keep the bloodlines pure through selective inbreeding. While inbreeding is not quite the same thing as incest, and it is important not to conflate the two, there is a great deal of overlap in the cultural discour se. Since the Weasley and Malfoy families are composed mostly of males, actual inbreeding is rarely depicted in fan stories.5 However, as seen above, both th e Weasleys and Malfoys are the products of inbreeding, which provides some of the impetus for the incest fic, especially with regard to Malfoycest. The Malfoys, as a powerful old-money family, are imme diately recognizable aristocrats, by the terms of both their world and ours. In addition, they are, as might be expected, the loudest voices denouncing those of Muggle birth, and Muggles themselves, as in ferior. The Weasley family has, by the standards of the wizarding worl d, a background as exalted as the Malfoys, and 5 Even stories that feature Ginny or Narcissa rarely depict actual pregnancy. Narcissa/Draco stories are thin on the ground, and, while this is the mo st logical place to explore actual inbreeding pregnancy in these stories almost never happens. There were a couple stories, prePhoenix that depicted Lucius and Na rcissa as brother and sister, though. And stories do exist where Ginny becomes pregnant by a brother (usually Ron see Kay Taylors Weasleys at War, SK), but the Weasle ys anti-pureblood privilege stance means that Ginnys pregnancy is never contextualized as a pureblood breeding project.
140 indeed, the families are related. But the Weasleys are vocal supporters of equality for Muggleborns and Muggles; the Weasleys shabby-genteel pove rty is, according to Molly, at least in part due to their political beliefs, as pureblood-supporters like Fudge ha ve routinely blocked Arthurs promotion. The bitter contempt the Malfoys exhib it toward the Weasleys is attributable to the fact that the Weasleys are b lood traitors, who, despite their exalted blood, choose to throw their lot in with Muggles and Muggle-borns. They are betrayers of their he ritage, and a threat to the pureblood hegemony the Malfoys hope for. Luci us tells Arthur that he is a disgrace to the name of wizard, and, upon noticing Hermiones Muggle parents, whom Arthur has taken under his wing, sneers The company you keep, Weas leyand I thought your family could sink no lower ( Chamber 62). The categories inhabited by both the Weasleys and the Malfoys are categories strongly associated with incest narratives. Both families are aristocrats, members of a class that is slowly dying out, and which, if it hopes to survive, must stop its incessant inbreeding and find more suitable partners. Just about ev ery Malfoycest fic invokes this disc ourse of aristocracy, to such an extent that it constitutes the single most impor tant trope for Malfoy incest narratives. From the Malfoys canonical setup as manor-dwell ing, luxury-loving, servant-abusing feudal anachronisms, it is not difficult for a fanfic writer to infer the rest of th e trappings of decadence and degeneration, complete with all manner of sexual perversion. However, the discourse of Weasleycest, like the discourse of the Weasleys themselves, is far less coherent. The Weasleys bear a much more conflicted relationship to th e category aristocrat, as they actively fight against aristocratic privilege. Conseque ntly, Weasleycest almost never invokes the inbred/depraved aristocrat trope that is such a nece ssary component of Ma lfoycest. However, the Weasleys are aristocrats, and they are also th e rural poor a double dose of incest
141 associations. Add to the fact th at the Weasleys have been for their sins stricken out of the pureblood family Bible, so to speak, and isolatio n, political and personal, becomes a factor. The Gaunts, Tom Riddle/Voldemorts maternal family introduced in Prince split the difference between the two discourses; they are impoverished aristocrats livi ng in close quarters, like the Weasleys (although the Gaunts live in utter squalor, thus resembling the hillbilly stereotype far more closely); unlike the Weasle ys, and like the Malfoys, the Ga unts (at least the males) are obsessed with their own pure blood, and cast ou t the daughter, Merope, when she becomes pregnant by the Muggle Thomas Riddle a Muggle aristocrat who sneers at the Gaunts poverty. There are incest narratives written about the Gaun ts, but not as many as for the Weasleys and Malfoys; the Gaunts have only been onstage since Prince and so have not ha d the time to build up a dedicated fan base yet. Also, the Gaunt s are described as physically unappealing; while that hasnt stopped Snape fans who have Alan Rickman as a visu al representation in the films the Gaunts are presented as actively repulsive. Unstable Bodies in the Chamber of Secrets Until the release of Phoenix which sparked a small explosion of Blackcest, which was boosted even further by Prince -the chief source text for most incest writers was Chamber Phoenix confirmed many of the suppositions that had been percolating in the fandom for years, such as the inbred nature of the pureblood fam ilies, suppositions that were based primarily upon the events of Chamber The release in 2002 of the film version of Chamber and the monthslong publicity buildup that came before, insp ired a major wave of incest narratives.6 Of paramount importance are the glimpses we get of the home lives of both the Weasleys and the 6 The release of publicity shots of actors Jason Isaacs and Christian Coulso n (Tom Riddle) in costume, posed seductively, certainly didnt hurt, either. Though Potte r is, essentially, a text-based fandom, the films have definitely had an impact on fan conceptions and representations of characters.
142 Malfoys. Harry spends extended periods of time with the Weasleys in other books, but Chamber gave readers their first and mo st detailed look at life at th e Burrow, the Weasley family compound. And Chamber as of yet, contains the only pr ivate scene between Draco Malfoy and his father, Lucius; every interpre tation of Malfoy family dynamics begins with the scene Harry witnesses between father and son in Borg in and Burkes (see Chapter 2). However, Chamber s relevance for incest writers goes beyond the depictions of specific familial situations. The pureblood-Muggleborn c onflict is introduced here and located within a larger narrative obsessed with bl oodlines, heredity and, especially, origins A key issue is the origin story of Hogwarts itself: there was a rift between co-f ounders Salazar Slytherin, who believed that only pureblood students should be admitted, and Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuf f, who wished Hogwarts to be open to all students with demonstrable magical ability. The majority pr evailed, but legend has it that Slytherin, without the knowledge of the other founders, created a magi cal room within the ca stle, the Chamber of Secrets. He sealed the Chamber so that none but his true heir coul d open it and release the horror within, and purge all Muggle-borns from the school ( Chamber 151). The horror within turns out to be a basilisk, a giant snake with a deadly gaze, which manages to Petrify, but not kill, a number of students, including Hermione After the first attack, a message written in blood appears on the walls, threatening Enemies of the Heir Beware. But Chamber s delineation of the complex issues of blood and heredity is not the only reason for its centrality for incest writers. Chamber is also, crucially, the point where sexuality is introduced into the series, and the co-ming ling of concerns about bloodline with concerns about sexuality is what makes it such a rich mine for writers. While Harry s sexuality is not overtly on display until Azkaban when he develops a crush on Cho Chang, other characters are
143 shown experiencing, and suffering, sexual desire. The women of the wizarding world, including Hermione and Mrs. Weasley, are thrown into a tizzy by handsome Gild eroy Lockhart; prissy Percy has been sneaking around to see his girlfr iend; and most importantly, Ginny develops an enormous crush on Harry. Going hand-in-hand with this awareness of sexuality is the fact that the main characters are at the age of puberty, and Chamber is rife with chaotic, unstable bodies that are not always under the control of thei r owners. The most obvious metaphor for bodily instability is Polyjuice Potion, which transforms the drinkers appearance into that of another person. Hermione makes a batch in order to spy on Draco Malfoy; by disguising themselves as Dracos Slytherin cronies Crabbe, Goyle, and Milli cent Bulstrode, they hope to find out if Draco is, or knows the identity of, the Heir of Slytherin. U pon taking the potion, Harry experiences uncomfortable physical sensations: [B]efore his eyes, his hands began to grow, th e fingers thickened, the nails broadened, the knuckles were bulging like bolts his shoulders stretched painfully and a prickling on his forehead told him his hair was creeping down toward his eyebrows his robes ripped as his chest expanded like a barrel bursting its hoops his feet were in agony in shoes four sizes too small. (216-17) The process of Harrys transformation into the lumpen thug Goyl e reads like sped-up puberty. The moment when Harry and Ron gaze in mingled horror and fascination at their newly huge, hairy, grunting bodies is comic, but also evokes adolescents re sponses to their own unfamiliar bodies. But Hermione, in what may be a wry comment on the female experience of adolescence, has accidentally added cat hair to her potion, and has partia lly transformed into a cat, complete with tail. Ginny, however, does not merely lose c ontrol over her body, but is actively violated : she is seduced, then possessed, by Tom Riddle. The im plication of a metaphoric rape is inescapable; Ginnys bodily integrity has been trespassed upo n by an older (much older) male who first charmed her, and then proceeded to use her body for his own ends. While canon only hints at
144 Ginnys suffering, a number of fan writers have speculated upon Ginnys experiences with Tom, and the possible effects that such a violati on would have upon a girl just entering puberty. Throughout Chamber Ginnys interactions with Harry, and therefore all her appearances in the text, are defined by sexual desire: she has a debilitating crush on Harry, which renders her incapable of speech in his presence. However, she is able to speak, via the diary, to Harrys doppelganger Tom, to whom she pours out her distress and longing. The information she provides him about her object of de sire enables Tom to lure Harry into the Chamber of Secrets. Given this fixation upon the family and upon sexua lity, it is perhaps no surprise that the climactic sequence in the Cham ber of Secrets reads like an extended parody of pop-culture Freudian interpretation. Harry c onfronts Tom, the slayer of his father, deep in the bowels of Hogwarts, within the Chamber of Secrets. He reaches th e Chamber by sliding down a long, slimy tube hidden in the girls ba throom. He must then fight Tom s enormous snake, the beast in the plumbing that has been whispering to Harry throughout the book. The weapon bestowed upon Harry is the jewel-encrusted sword of Godr ic Gryffindor, Harrys spiritual (and perhaps physical) ancestor; with the help of Fawkes the phoenix, Harry first blinds and then slays the snake, and then plunges the snakes poisonous fang into the diary, destroying Tom himself. This battle of phallic symbols takes place ove r and around Ginnys prone body Ginny, who resembles Lily Potter in looks and temperamen t -where Harry, her object of desire, defeats Tom, her wicked seducer, and orde r is restored. Ron, Ginnys brot her, is not allowed into the Chamber of Secrets, through lucky chance. Earlie r in the book he had broken his wand, and the resulting unpredictable emissions were a source of great embarrassment to him. However, when Lockhart attempts to wipe Ron and Harrys memo ries, the wand backfires and Lockhart loses his
145 entire memory; the backfire also triggers a sma ll avalanche that cuts Ron and Lockhart off from Ginny. While neither Ron nor Percy are allowed to be e ffective protectors or rescuers, as that role rightfully belongs to her future lover Harry, its significant for W easleycest narratives that both brothers have quasi-sexual encounters with her. Ron, of course, accompanies Harry down that long damp tube, though he, like Lockhart (a villai nous too-old seducer like Tom), is not allowed to enter the Chamber for once his wand malfunctions prove usef ul. Percys midnight rambling, secretiveness, and ambiti on he reads a book entitled Prefects Who Gained Power -makes him a red herring in the central mystery, but a red herring that foreshadows the real culprit. And it is Ginny who reveals that Percy has a girlfriend; sh e knows this because she walked in on them kissing. Percys preoccupation, as well as his general obtuseness, makes him incapable of protecting Ginny though he is the only character at Hogwarts who even notices that something is wrong and attempts to ameliorate his sisters distress, even if his methods (Pepper-up Potion, hounding his brothers to refrain from upsetting her) do not work.7 Equally important to incest writers is Chamber s establishment of Lu cius Malfoy, beater of Draco, as not simply a villain, but a predator Lucius is the prime mover of the events of Chamber Intending to discredit Arthur Weasley, who has been pushing legislation through to prevent attacks on Muggles, Lucius slips Ginny the interactive diary c ontaining Toms spirit: The Weasleys are one of our most prominent pur eblood families. Imagine the effect on Arthur Weasley and his Muggle Protecti on Act, if his own daughter was discovered attacking and killing Muggle-borns ( Chamber 336). Lucius makes it possible for Tom to violate and possess 7 Fred and Georges method of cheering her up is even less helpful; covering themselves with fur or boils and jumping out at her from behind statues ( Chamber 185) an aggressive display of the physical markers of puberty (excessive body hair, acne) proves to be not especially calming for a girl in the throes of her own pubertal crisis.
146 Ginny -a metaphoric pimp8 for a metaphoric rapist. Fanfiction writers have not found it difficult to make the conceptual leap from indirect sexual abuse of a child to direct sexual abuse of a child, and from thence to creating Lucius as the Master of All Deprav ities. Lucius features as the sexual menace in fan stories far more often than his master Voldemort; in an essay discussing Luciuss role in fa n fiction, one fan notes Perhaps every fandom needs an evil, terribly attractive villain. And Voldemort, with the physical lim itations described at the end of [ Goblet ], has a hard time filling that role (except for Riddle incarnation).9 With his ancient lineage, vast wealth, gloomy castle, terrified servan ts, unauthorized and unclean sources of power, unshakeable belief in his own superiority, a nd evil designs upon all that is just and good, Lucius is indeed a terribly attractive vill ain, and whats more, a villain from a specific literary tradition: the Gothic. His appearance on film rein forces this impression visually Lucius is highwayman-handsome, his long pale hair tied in a silken ribbon like an eighteenth-century fop. And its not simply Lucius who has ties to the Gothic; Ginnys story arc could have been written by Anne Radcliffe or Horace Walpole. An innocent young woman of limited means, but noble birth, is threatened by no t one, but two patriarchs with wicked designs upon her, both for what she is a nave girl, who can be lured into giving up her body to male appropriation -and for what she represents, as a member of a family that has the effrontery to thwart the villains in their sche mes. She is then rescued by the young man she actually desires, who is a kinder, gentler (and arguably more boring) version of the villain who has seduced her. 8 In the film, Lucius carries an ebony cane topped with a silver serpents he ad; fans immediately dubbed it the pimp cane. It featured in a number of st ories as Luciuss weapon of choice for inflicting pleasure or torment on his sexual partners/victims. 9 Regan. February 4, 2005. Accessed May 10, 2005. LJ. In the same article, she draws attention to the similarities between Lucius and Lucifer, and references Lucifers incestuous coupling with his daughter, Sin, in Paradise Lost Miltons Lucifer, of course, is a major influence upon later Gothic and Romantic villains.
147 The staples of Gothic narrative, as establis hed by writers such as Radcliffe, Walpole and Matthew Lewis a mysterious castle, terrifying monsters (h uman and otherwise), secret passageways, ghosts, evil yet seducti ve men, maidens in peril are all present and accounted for in Chamber But the Gothic is not simply a collecti on of set pieces, but a mode of storytelling. It is a critical commonplace that the tortured spac es of the Gothic landscape, haunted as they are by the violence and tragedy of the past bleeding into the present, map the internal spaces of the psyche. The discourse of the Gothic is, in our time, intimately bound up with the discourse of psychoanalysis, to the point that Anne Williams cl aims the true heir of Walpole and Radcliffe, the most profoundly Gothic creator of narrative in our century, is Sigmund Freud (240). Chamber ingeniously makes use of both Gothic and ps ychoanalytic tropes to explicate the shared obsession with origins and narrative of the present haunted by the pa st. The classic Gothic motif of the old diary that explains all contains, in Chamber not simply a narration of the past, but the past itself: Voldemort has preserved within it s pages not just the words of his youth, but his young self. His previous attempt to manifest in his present form having been thwarted, in Stone Voldemort regresses to the more comfortable space of the past a past where few know his true identity. In the present, where most have forgotten his old name, Voldemort-as-Tom poses as a friend to Ginny, encouraging her to spill her secret desires via the therapeutic process of journaling. But this sessions are not for Ginnys benefit, but for Toms through her revelations, Tom is able to feed off her power to enhance his own. The re pressed returns with a vengeance, and, in shades of Dora, Ginnys thera pist, with the help of the insensitive, uncomprehending males around her sucks his pa tient nearly dry. Though Ginnys experience is somewhat glossed over in the books, fa n writers have explored her story.
148 Chamber invokes the twinned discourses of the Gothic and psychoanalysis, but does not overtly address a key element of both: the inces t taboo. But fanfiction writers, inspired by these narratives, have not hesitated to explore the incestuous possibilities contained within the Potterverse. Incest Narratives in Potterverse Fanfiction: Literary Models Potterverse fan fiction concerns itself with two basic forms of incest: parent/child and sibling/sibling. In all cases, the incest is entered into knowingly, with fu ll awareness of the familial relationship. Malfoycest is, of necessity, dominated by parent/child; while there is some parent/child Weasleycest, the vast majority is sibling/sibling. A great deal of the disparity in tone between Weasleycest and Malf oycest is attributable to thes e differing configurations. Parent/child incest is, in both literary and popular discourse, n early always portrayed as a monstrous, horrifying transgress ion. The extreme imbalance of power between parents and children means that any incestuous activity automatically carries with it abuse of authority and betrayal of trust. While the Oedipus complex is the centerpiece of Freudi an psychoanalysis, it is a truism, marking the key difference between fantas y and reality, that mother/child incest is the least common form of in cest in both life and art.10 In the majority of folk and literary depictions of parent/child incest, the parent is the father, and he is nearly always portrayed as a predatory villain, with illicit designs upon his daughters, or, more usually, daught er-surrogates. The archetypal Gothic villains to whom Lucius Malfoy owes so much Walpoles Manfred, Radcliffes Schedoni and the Marquis of Maont ault, Stokers Dracula, among others -are threatening father figures who menace their daughter-surrogates not simply for sexual 10 Though, as Twitchell notes, if one goes by linguistics, the idea of mother/child incest carries an enormous amount of power: motherfucker is one of the worst insults in any number of languages (54). With regards to the Potter stories, one could also point out Harry and Rons attractio n to women who strongly resemble the boys mothers.
149 gratification, but for the consum mation of power an ultimate expression of the patriarchs rights over those within his family group, especi ally women. Luciuss interactions with Ginny (who, it is worth remembering, is indeed a relativ e, albeit a distant one) follow this model. James Kincaid, making note of this literary heri tage, names our collective discourse of child molestation Gothic (10). The discourse of sibling incest, on the other ha nd, is not so coherent, nor so universally condemned. Sibling incest, in which the power di fferential is less pronounced and thus lacks the automatic stigma of betrayal of trust, does not conform as easily into the villain/victim morality play. Both folklore and litera ture are less incl ined to heap approbation upon incestuous siblings than on incestuous parents; folk ballads that deal with incest are nearly always about sibling couples, and are notable for their lack of condemna tion of the incestuous desi re itself. Some of these ballads such as Sheath and Knife, L izzie Wan, and The Kings Dochter Lady Jane, from the Child collection -recount unwitting ince st, the least blameworthy form of the act, but even those siblings who have knowingly entered in to an incestuous relations hip are tragic rather than monstrous. The tragic outcome of these ballads is perhaps due to the need to contain the threat to social and familial roles; the siblings themselves often generate sympathy for their plight.11 Gothic tales, too, will flirt with sibling in cest, usually in an are they or arent they related way, but a potential ero tic relationship between siblings is often seen by the characters as a tragedy, or a forgivable mistake, and almost never as the threat that the erotic designs of the patriarch on the heroine are. However, it was the Romantic poets working at around the same time that scholars began taking an interest in folk material (indeed, Roma ntic nationalism is a decisive factor in the 11 See Twitchell 63-4, and Syndergaard.
150 development of the study of folklore) -who mount ed, in word and deed, an apologia of sorts for sibling incest. According to Alan Richardson, sibling incest is the quintessential form of Romantic incest (552). Byrons Manfred and Shelleys Laon and Cythna are key texts; these writers in turn, especially By ron, influenced Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights The degree to which art may have imitated life for Romantic wr iters is a topic of e ndless speculation; Byron was exiled for his indiscretion with his half-sis ter Augusta, and the relationships of both William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Percy and Eli zabeth Shelley have come under scrutiny.12 Like the Gothic, Romanticism was a revolt against the rati onality of the Enlightenment; unlike the Gothic, which flirted with transgression only to have or der triumph at the end, Romanticism celebrated the transgression and apotheosized the transgress ors, and the villain became the Byronic antihero whose sufferings generate compassion. Given this, it follows that Romantic, as opposed to Gothic, depictions of sibling incest often portray lovers who are fully aware of their familial relationship, and enter into a romantic re lationship anyway. Richardson elaborates: Romantic sibling incest is pr esented not as a perversion or accidental inversion of the normal sibling relation, but as an extension a nd intensification of it. As opposed to the unwittingly incestuous siblings of most earlier traditions who have grown up apart and do not meet until they are sexually mature, Roman tic incestuous couples tend instead to have a history together going back to infancy. (553) This Romantic model of consensual sibling de sire has filtere d down to the novels of V.C. Andrews, who is the most-often cited conduit am ong Potter fan writers for the sympathetic incest model. In addition, Andrews locates her sympathe tic incestuous siblings within overtly Gothic settings and plots. In these texts, sexual overtures made by older men towards the heroine are grotesque and frightening; the ad ult world is so corrupt and abus ive that the only possible solace is incest with ones trusted brother or sister Narratives which center around Ginny sometimes 12 Mary Shelleys relationship with her father, William Godwin, is also noteworthy -especially as she gave him a copy of her novel Mathilde which concerns father-daughter incest. See Harpold.
151 make use of this particular trop e a number of stories portray he r as having been so traumatized by Tom that the only safe place to exercise he r sexuality is with her brothers. In Catja Mikhailovics And in Arcadia I,13 Ginny is the only one who can comprehend Georges mingled fear and anguish over Freds death, and they turn to each other for what little safety and comfort they can achieve. The discourse of villainy, while an important component of Ginny-centric Weasleycest, is a chief concern of Malfoycest; the moral un iverse of Malfoycest stories hinges upon the presentation of Luciuss designs upon his son. If Lucius plays out his canonical role as Gothic villain, the incest is simply eviden ce of his depravity. But if Luci uss role is allowed to expand, even if in directions previously mapped out by Gothic hero-villains in the Byronic mold, the depiction of incest becomes mo re complex and nuanced, and more firmly located in the relationship of Lucius and Draco as specific individuals in a speci fic situation, rather than as villain and victim. Malfoycest: Patriarchal Rights Its somewhat difficult to trac e the history of Malfoycest, as some important early writers have removed their stories from the Internet, a nd a major early archive for the genre has also been closed down. Unlike Weasleycest, whic h has spread across the fandom like kudzu, Malfoycest has always been more difficult to find and its writers a bit more secretive. Even without issues of secrecy, Malf oycest is less common than Weasle ycest, despite the popularity of Draco and Lucius as individual ch aracters. This is probably due to the fact that the potential for incest within the Malfoy family falls along parent/c hild lines, which a number of fans find off13 Catja Mikhailovic. January 24, 2003. Accessed March 1, 2007. AS.
152 putting; Malfoycest not only requires that readers and writers negotiate incest, but also a great difference in age between sexual partners, and th e issue of dubious or non-existent consent. The majority of fan fictional depictions of Malfoy incest utilize the expected narrative of torment and abuse. However, Luciuss abuse of Draco is, even in the most simplistic Fiendish Abuser/Innocent Victim narratives, ra rely portrayed as unmotivated ev il. Just about every single story of Malfoy family incest locates the incest within a broader narrative of what it means to be a Malfoy Malfoys are, above all things aristocrats: the head of such a noble family has the right of absolute control over and acce ss to the bodies of those in his power; the scion of such a noble family must learn those lessons of power in or der to make him a worthy heir of the dynasty. Sometimes the incest is expressly part of a polit ical agenda: Lucius is preparing Draco for service to Voldemort by first establishing his own absolute authority as paterfamilias: Mongooses haunting Verbs and Vertebrae ope ns, When Lucius is exercising his Malfoy patriarchal rights upon Draco's body14 But even if Voldemorts political agenda is never explicitly invoked, incest is always contextualized as a specifically Malfoy act, an expression of something intrinsic to the family and to the bloodline. The Malfoys, in canon, are presented as corrupt ar istocrats, with ties to a corrupt political regime that is doomed to failure. In the majority of Malfoycest narratives incest is a symbol of the inherent depravity of both th e family and the political system they support. Sometimes this depravity is something that is celebrated and reveled in by the ch aracters, but often, incest is a destructive force that contributes to the disinteg ration of the family unit. Luciuss abuse often serves as the impetus for Draco to rebel against his family and join the side of good. A number of Malfoy incest narratives eventually resolve into Draco/Good Character, usually Harry. These 14 Mongoose, December 10, 2002 Accessed May 19, 2005. LJ.
153 stories rely heavily upon the Goth ic villain/innocent polarity, w ith Draco replacing Ginny as the suffering victim. The incest, in most of these na rratives, is not the story itself, but a device to garner sympathy for Draco. Kincaid notes that th is Gothic narrative forces the child into the one-dimensional role of Victim, and not only robs th e child of agency, but also absolves the child of any responsibility, ever (12) ; as a narrative device, Evil Da ddy/Tortured Innocent places the onus for Dracos canonically unpleas ant behavior directly at Lucius s door. Rhysenns Patris est Filius,15 which turns into Harry/Draco, is one of the finest examples of this popular story line. Stories in which Draco is abused, but do not e nd with Draco being driv en into the arms of the good guys, tend to be character studies that explore Dr acos response to his fathers evil, or Luciuss self-justifications for his cruel behavi or. Verbs and Vertebrae, quoted above, is a short, stark scene of rape; while Lucius violat es Draco, both father and son fantasize about doing the same to Harry. A number of stories focus upon Dracos attempts to rationalize the abuse. In other stories, incest is an expres sion of Luciuss rage and disappoint ment in his son; rape is used as a punishment, in order to toughen Draco up. While all Malfoycest narratives depict the incest as a factor of the the Malfoys fetishization of their pure blood and their family position, some stories specifically depict Lucius using incest as a means of training not so much in order to exercise control over Draco, but rather to teach Draco to use sexual pain and plea sure as a means of controlling others. In these stories, Lucius is seductive rath er than abusive, and Draco does not tend to conceive of himself as abused, and is, in fact, likely to participate wi th relative eagerness. In Eff Yu Cee Kay Eye En Gee, by Sine Que Non 767, Lucius explains: These are crucial lessons for a Malfoy. It is pa rt of the growing up process in our family. We teach the seeking after the sweet taste of fear, of power. Once he is addictedthen it 15 Rhysenn. Accessed February 28, 2007. AS.
154 can be refined, as the Dark Lord would expect. As the noble House of Malfoy would expect. 16 Rushlights A Passage to Eden17 features what amounts to a Malfoy initiation ritual, with Lucius first instructing his son to have sex with the prostitutes he bri ngs home, both male and female, while he watches. During the next encoun ter, Lucius joins in, and eventually moves to sex with Draco alone. Draco begins the story ad miring and respecting his father, and is grateful for the attention; by the end, Dracos admiration ha s turned to adoration and desire, and Lucius reciprocates the affection. In her authors not e, Rushlight characterizes the story as Either a twisted love story or the ultimate mindfuck -you be the judge. Rushlight so skillfully draws readers into the characters mindser that their rati onalizations of the abuse make a horrible sort of sense: of course this Lucius and this Draco would understa nd their actions this way. Its a tour de force of characterization, and eff ectively disturbing because of it. More overtly consensual Malfoycest, though a minority subgenre, does exist. The few Narcissa/Draco stories tend to be consensual, and are based upon the Freudian model of the (male, heterosexual) childs sexual desire for the mother most Na rcissa/Draco stories overtly or covertly reference Oedipus. Consensual Lucius /Draco tends to write Draco as the seducer. Some of these Draco-as-Seducer stories are chan, and owe something to the stylized children of that genre; however, it is also possible that such stories are commenting upon the fanon construction of Draco as Slytherin Sex God, and giving him an early start to his career. Weasleycest: Unnatural Little Beasts Weasleycest is more popular than Malfoycest, if simply for th e greater potential for variety inherent in a family with seven children. The ma jority of these pairings are sibling/sibling; the 16 Sine Que Non 767. August 27, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. SK. 17 Rushlight. Accessed May 10, 2005. AS.
155 lesser stigma of sibling incest in spires less squeamishness, and ther efore more writers are willing to attempt stories. Moreover, canon approves of their politics a nd the family as a whole, and therefore, it is not necessary to rupture the family unit to garner sympathy for the characters. As the Weasleys fight against pureblood hegemony, their incest narratives can operate without engaging the political issues that characterizes Malfoycest; if Weasleys are sexually involved with each other, it is usually about the personal de sires of those specific ch aracters, rather than a manifestation of a sociopolitical agenda. That is not to say that politics has no impact whatsoever on Weasleycest, but it is indirect. The Weasleys are political outcasts, blood traitors, and this has contribu ted to their poverty and isolation, and heightened their emotional attachments to each other. Dale Edmonds, in an interesting post on the appeal of incest fic, remarks, There's just something about the Weas leys -maybe it's that they're so loving and sweet to each other in the books, a real Weasleys vs. the world feel, and the sense of them all crowded into that little house and a tiny world of their own.18 In general, if incest is occurring among the W easleys, it is far less likely than Malfoycest to be presented as destructive, and is usually presented as co nsensual, sympathetic, loving, and even downright fluffy. If Malfoycest is overr un with melodrama, Weas leycest is overrun with taboo? What is this taboo you speak of? stories; indeed, if a reader is unaware that the characters are related, it can some times be difficult to discern that any transgression is occurring at all. One fan comments, there's a number of stories that treat [Weasleycest] as just another pairing, but with better acce ss to the object of desire.19 18 Dale Edmonds. February 19, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. LJ. 19 Catja Mikhailovic. July 7, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. LJ.
156 Weasleycest, as a whole, has a rather different approach to the concept of incest as a social transgression than Malf oycest does. The most common, and the most influential, Weasleycest pairing is Fred/George, or, as it is commonly known, twincest. The twins often serve as a gateway pairing for readers who havent read incest stories before. In fact, twincest has become somewhat naturalized within the fandom at larg e; like Ron/Hermione, Fred/George appears as a background pairing in a number of stories that focus upon other ch aracters. The reasons for the popularity and (fairly) wide accepta nce of twincest are manifold, but certainly due in part to the fact that the power differential, wh ich gives parent/child in cest so much of its power to disgust, is non-existent: the twins, as portr ayed by Rowling, are absolute equa ls. Indeed, they barely seem to differentiate between one a nother, at one point proclaimi ng themselves Gred and Forge ( Stone 202), and effectively function as a single character. Both canon and fanon portrayals of the twins owe much to a popular mythos of twinsh ip twins, especially identical twins, are perceived as somewhat uncanny. They have a special, secret bond, perhaps a psychic connection; one in the womb and one soul, two bodies, are the most common twincest tropes. One of the earliest Weasleycest fi cs, Aileis Supposedly, asks, Dont you think sometimes we were supposed to beOne person.20 Lets Get Metaphysical, by Mathilda, a meditation upon the na ture of twinship, comments P eople always say to us, So which one are you then? And we always reply, Never mind that, which one are you ?21 The prevalence of this trope has led to fans wonde ring, with tongue somewh at in cheek, whether Fred/George is incest or masturbation. 20 Ailei. 2000-2001. Accessed February 4, 2007. RS. 21 Mathilda. Accessed February 28, 2007. AS.
157 A further spur to the natura lizing of twincest li es in the twins canonical function as tricksters.22 As Hogwarts resident pranksters, Fred and Georges chief purpose in life is to disrupt any and all semblance of order or stability. It s especially noteworthy that their chief tricks Canary Creams, Ton-Tongue Toffees Skiving Snackboxes al l destabilize the body. Like the Malfoys, the twins do not operate within the rule of law, but their characters are outside rather than above the law, anarchists rather than fascists. Boundaries, whether social, moral, or physical, simply do not exist for the twins even the boundary be tween themselves as separate human beings. So, reason, fan writers, what care they for mere sexual proprieties? A number of twincest stories are gleefully por nographic, and the twins will often team up to seduce a third person Harry, Lee, Oliver Wood. The summary for Double or Nothing by Calico, one of the finest writers of erotica in fandom, reads Exploration of social boundaries. Through porn;23 here, Fred and George break out of the Potterver se and are seduced by singer Lance Bass, of the boyband NSync. This story, while a bit of a sport among other twin cest narratives, is nonetheless one of the most consistently recomme nded incest fics, for its exquisite writing and so-bizarre-it-works premise; Fred and George boundary-crossers extraord inaire, are not even confined to their own fictional universe, but can easily swan about Muggle London with realworld celebrities. This happy, porny, we-are-soulmates tone is widely pervasive within twincest, and since twincest is the most popular pairing, this tone tends to bleed over into Weasleycest as a whole 22 Unsurprisingly in the Classics-haunted Potterverse, Fred and George appear to owe most of their characterization to the god Hermes: guide of souls, messenger of the gods, and patron of merchants and thieves, father of Hermaphroditus. The twins inherit and master the Marauders Map, which contains a recording of James Potter, and pass it along to Harry; they also, with Harrys financia l help, open a joke shop. And like Hermes, the twins are firmly arrayed on the side of the Good, although the a lliance has more to do with personal loyalty (to Zeus, to Dumbledore) than with moral commitment, as all Tricksters are essentially amoral. Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde, contains a fascinating discussion of Herm es, as does Wiiliam G. Dotys A Lifetime of TroubleMaking: Hermes as Trickster. 23 Calico. May 16, 2003. Accessed February 18, 2007. AS.
158 to the point where the prevalence of romantic W easley fluff can be labeled the Twincest Effect. However, an important strain of twincest fic tr eats the one in the wo mb trope ironically, in order to trouble the pervasive na rratives. Gemini, by Penelope-Z opens with the twins birth, their hands bruised from clinging so tightly to each other: each twin subconsciously came to understand the reality of the other through pain.24 The splendidly-titled Crushed Beneath the Delicate Weight of a Piano That Falls From H eaven (Alternately Titled: The Tragicomedy of Weasley Blood), by Marvolo,25 features, as an epigraph, a pass age from a biology text about the formation of identical twins. The story describe s the gradual disintegratio n of Fred and Georges relationship, sparked by both tw ins separate encounters with a manipulative Hermione. Hermiones favorite game is anagrams, wherei n the magical words of spells are broken down into the mundane words of ever yday reality (Transfiguration. Fountain, rigs, art. Um. Frustration, gain.); her semiotic destruction of felicitous speech mirrors her destruction of the twins felicitous bond, and turns both in to something dull and ordinary. After twincest, Percy/Ginny is probably th e most popular Weasleycest pairing. As discussed earlier, the film of Chamber inspired a major wave of W easleycest writing, and much of that was Percy/Ginny. While many Ginny stor ies have Tom Riddle lurking somewhere in the background, Percy/Ginny is often predicated upon a triangle with Tom, making it the most consistently melancholy of the Weasleycest pair ings. As mentioned earlie r, a number of stories posit that Ginny, deeply traumatized by Tom, turn s to her brothers as a sexual safe haven,26 and Percy is the brother most consistently chosen. In Rhoddlet and Marvolo s Heir, Ginnys trust 24 Penelope Z. April 6, 2002. Accessed February 28, 2007. FF.N. 25 Marvolo. May 1, 2003. Accessed February 4, 2007. LJ. 26 Angela Griffens Nightmare (Accessed February 28, 2007. AS) and Catja Mikhailovics Spasm (January 17, 2003. Accessed February 28, 2007. AS) are illustrative.
159 is misplaced; Percy, seduced by Toms promises of power, not only hands Ginny over to Tom, but violates her himself.27 Of all the Weasley siblings, ambiti ous Percy is most likely to be lured to the dark side, and is th erefore the most likely to be presented as abusive. After Percy, Ron is the brother most often pa ired with Ginny. Ron/Ginny stories are often light and cheerful. Ron is only one year older th an Ginny (the smallest Weasley age gap besides that of the twins), and unlike Pe rcy, his canonical allegiance to the good guys is absolute, making him a much less ambiguous character, and a more re liable post-Tom haven. Aspen is the writer most associated with Ron/Ginny, an d many of her stories, such as Strings of Pearls and Copper Curls and Hidden, Sweet and Wet are sweet-natured erotic romances.28 Ron/Ginny is not without its darkness, however. Rhoddlet often writes Ron as a tr aitor, placing him in narratives that are usually associated with Percy T he Atheist Geometer is a stark, brutal Ron/Ginny/Tom triangle, and neatly inverts Rons canonical goodness to produce a narrative even more wrenching than a Percy story would have been.29 Cassandra Claires Mortal Instruments recasts the fando ms most argued over het ship quadrangle; when Harry and Hermione become romantically involved, Ron and Ginny, jealous and hurt, turn to each other over the summer break. Ron falls in love, and he thinks Ginny does, as well, but she breaks it off, claiming fear of discovery. At the beginni ng of the school year, Ron sees Ginny and Harry together, and he realizes that she has use d him for practice. Like she always had.30 Bill and Charlie feature sporadically in Weasle ycest narratives, usually paired with each other. Neither brother has had much stag e time in canon, but their few appearances are 27 Rhoddlet. November 22, 2002. February 28, 2007. AS. 28 Aspen. Accessed February 4, 2007. AS. 29 Rhoddlet. October 30, 2002 February 28, 2007. AS. 30 Cassandra Claire. April 26, 2004. May 20, 2005. LJ. (Now offline.)
160 appealingly glamorous. Bill is a treasure hunt er, with long hair, a ponytail, and a dragon fang earring; an impressed Harry proclaims him cool ( Goblet 52). Charlie, a legendary Quidditch player, works with dragons in Romania. Given so little information, fa non has had to fill in a number of gaps, and one of the chief elements of Bill and Charlies fan characterizations is their perceived ages. According to canon, Gryffindor hasnt won the House Cup in six years, not since Charlie left school ( Stone 114); based upon this, fans calculat ed that Charlie is about eight years older than Percy, and Bill perhaps two years older than Charlie. In Weasleycest narratives, this significant age gap means that when paired with a younger sibling, Bill or Charlie has nearly as much power as a parent. When paired with each other, as in Kay Taylors lovely and influential Every You and Every Me and Summers Day,31 Bill and Charlies relative isolation from the rest of the family becomes a key part of the pairing dynamic. However, after the release of Phoenix Rowling threw a monkey wrench into the fan calculations, by proclaiming that Charlie was onl y three years older than Percy.32 This has caused much grumbling within the fandom; not only do the numb ers not make sense, but fans have had to rethink the fanon. While Bill and Charlie are still ol d enough to be abusive, especially if paired with Ginny which, in such narratives, they us ually are they lose the independence that characterizes their own pairing. Weasleycest abuse stories are uncommon, on the w hole, as sibling incest, even without the Twincest Effect, lacks a built-in ab use narrative. If abuse occu rs among the siblings, Percy, and sometimes Bill or Charlie, will be the perpetrator, and the victim will usually be Ginny. Parent/child Weasleycest is even rarer, and almost always feat ures Arthur as the incestuous 31 Kay Taylor. Both posted 2002. Accessed February 28, 2007. SK. 32 J.K. Rowling. FAQ: You sa id recently that Charlie was only two years older than Percy. J.K. Rowling.com Accessed February 28, 2007. < http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/faq_view.cfm?id=63 >
161 parent. Ravenchel s Repetition series,33 the most famous Weasleycest abuse fic, utilizes the Gothic Evil Father paradigm usually found in Ma lfoycest. She explores how this paternal sadism functions among the Weasleys, who dont even have the dubious justification of a political agenda. And as the t itle indicates, the abuse doesnt stop with Arthur. Ginny is damaged first by her brothers, who enact the abuse they suffered, and then she encounters Tom. By the time her father reaches her, it could never shock her again. Last of all, she returns to Percy, who kills her in part due to hi s own conflicted relationship with Tom. I have focused upon pre-existing narratives of incestuous desire in literature and popular culture, and have argued that fanf iction writers both import and cri tique these narratives in their own writing. However, the most striking thing about so many incest fics is how specific they are. Though fan writers may grab shiny narratives from any numb er of sources, they never lose sight that they are not simply writing about the Abused Child or the Fiendish Father or the Passionate Brother: they are writing about Draco and Lucius and Ron each of whom has his own individual history, and fits in to his family and his world in a specific way. The very nature of fanfiction ensures that no matter how poor the setting or the characte rization, none of these stories exist in a vacuum. Kincaid points out th at the narrative of child molestation is reductive and only allows for flat, two-dimensional roles of Villain and Victim. But even the most simplistic importing of this narrative into a fan st ory deepens the pre-assigned roles the Villain may be a snarling caricature, but he has a face a nd a history, and he attends the Quidditch World Cup and hides contraband under his parlor floor. And when a write r the caliber of Rushlight or Marvolo or Cassandra Claire tells an incest story, the story become s not simply about the incest 33 Ravenchel. June 13, 2002 and following. Accessed February 4, 2007. LJ.
162 itself, but about Draco or Percy or Ginny negotia ting their shameful or traumatic or exciting desires and fears through a tangled web of political, social, and familial concerns.
163 EPILOGUE: POTTERDMMERUNG OR, THE WA NKALYPSE IS NIGH: THE FUTURE OF HARRY POTTER FANDOM On February 1, 2007, J.K. Rowling announced that Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be released on July 21, 2007. Fans cheered, wibbled, and worked themselves up into a frenzy of anticipation. One fan, fores eeing the inevitable explosi on, composed an epitaph: July 24 INTERNET WWW. GORE BELOVED FREAKSHOW, DIED IN A TRAGIC BUT INEVITABLE EXPLOSION 1987-2007 REST IN PEACE1 Some fans mourned the passing of an era, and wished for more time with the series as we know it: I wanted one more year of fandom waiti ng and speculating and discussing and theorizing.2 Other fans took heart from the example of other fa ndoms: It is not like Tolkien fans have run out of things to talk about, and the good ladies over at pemberley.com are still posting 24/7 about Jane Austen's books.3 The most common response was eith er glee or consternation at the coming fandom storm; good Wankas have been stockpiling (virtual) popcorn and beer for years in anticipation. Hence the term Potterdmmerung4: the end will be long, loud, melodramatic, and the fannish universe will never be the same again. At the time of this writing, I have just finished reading Hallows and I am due to graduate in two weeks; the past eight years of my life are officially coming to a close. I fell in love with 1 Alex Greenshields. February 1, 2007. Accessed Mach 4, 2007. LJ. 2 Heidi Tandy. February 1, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2007. LJ. 3 Peg Kerr. February 1, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2007. LJ. 4 Now in common usage, most sources credit Dragonscholar with coining the term.
164 the Potter books in the fall of 1999, when I desp erately needed an escape from the new rigors of graduate school; it seems appropria te that I complete my graduate work in the year the series ends. I am reluctant to venture out onto the Inte rnet just yet; I want to mourn privately, for the time being. I mentioned, in Chapter 1, that completion or incompletion of the canon is one of the chief elements affecting the flavor of a fandom. A completed canon means answered questions, and a shutting down of certain avenues of inquiry; overa ll production of fan mate rial tends to plateau, as the frenzy of anticipation of new canon has ended Potter fandom is too large to die, but stories will likely not be produced in the same numbers as before. This is the general pattern for completed-canon fandoms. I predict though, that fa nnish activity will not drop off significantly until after the release of the seve nth film; though the books will be finished, the movies will keep Potter in public consciousness, and the fandom w ill function much as before; since the films are being released nearly concurrently with the books, Potter fandom will not experience the vast culture clash of, say, Lord of the Rings fandom, in which old-school Tolkein fans and new fans drawn in by the Peter Jackson films coexisted somewhat uneasily. Completed canon also means that fans have as much information as the creator is willing to give them, and thus have the full parameter of the world set out, as a spur to invention. Hallows is still fresh and raw in fandom memory, and I dont wish to speculate too fervently about directions the fanfiction wi ll take, at this early stage. However, without giving too much away, I can say that Harrry/Draco will continue to thrive, Weasleycest will take a tragic turn, the characterization of Lucius in fanon will shift dramatically, fic about Dumbledore as a young man will explode, and fans will be especially eager to tackle questions about the political arrangements of the wizarding world in the aftermath of Vo ldemorts defeat. While many
165 narrative strands were tied up, Rowling has left an enormous amount of room for speculation, as the famous epilogue only discusses certain aspe cts of the fates of a few major characters, nineteen years after the events of the main narrative. While Rowling has promised an eventual encyclopedia which will answer some of these lingering questions, it will likely be years until this appears, and fans may or may not accept it as canon on a par with the series itself particularly if there are contradictions between the encyclopedia and the series. Controversies over interpretation of characters and events will continue, but possi bly with less heat than before; as long as the canon was incomplete, ones pet th eories could still be proven right or wrong. Now that so many questions have been answered there will be a period of pure reaction to the text laudatory or critical and then more creative responses will begin in earnest. I mentioned earlier that the success of the Potter books has brough disc ussion of childrens and YA literature into the mainstream; I think, also, that Potter, along with the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson, has made the fantasy genr e more visible than ever before. Fantasy publishing and filmmaking, for children and adults is experiencing a renaissance, but young fans of the genre are especially benefiting; a recen t visit to Borders confirmed the dominance of fantasy literature in the childrens and YA secti ons, and a look at upcoming film releases shows adaptations of acclaimed childrens/YA fantasies such as Neil Gaimans Stardust Philip Pullmans The Golden Compass Susan Coopers The Dark is Rising and the second installment of the Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian All of these films have substantial fandoms of their own, and Potter fans, eager for new material, will gleefully seize upon thes e films, and the texts they are based upon, as a further spur to creativity. Those fans who gained their first experience of fandom through Potter are colonizing other fandoms especially those in related genres such as horror and science fiction, and bringing with them some of Potters fannish norms; Supernatural
166 a horror television series where the most obvious of possible romantic pairings is between two brothers, has proven appealing to notoriously unshocka ble Potter fans. Potter fans have also infiltrated Stargate: Atlantis Battlestar Galactica and Heroes fandoms. Potter fans now know for certain where the gaps in their favorite text lie, and will devise ingenious schemes for filling them, whatever Rowling may say afterwards. Potter fandom was a perfect storm, a global phenomenon fostered by the Internet, and the effects will be felt in childrens literature, in fantasy l iterature, and, especiall y, in the fannish landscape, for years to come. Now, at the closing of the canon, we will finally be able to begin the work of assessing Potters ultimate impact upon fandom as a whole. But not right now. The Potterdmmerung ha s begun, and the Wankas have saved me a ringside seat and a tub of popcorn.
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179 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Catherine Tosenberger was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and grew up in the Akron area. She graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 1994, initially intending to major in theatre and become a professional actor; she turned out to be a terrible waitress, and decided to study religion and literature instead, firs t at the College of Charleston, and then Kent State University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies. She then attended Ohio State University, where she received he r MA in English with a specia lization in folklore. Having fallen in love with Harry Potter and Internet fa ndom, she came to the University of Florida to study childrens literature and folklore. In March 2007, she married Tim Smith, a fellow alumnus of Cuyahoga Falls High School. Upon rece iving her Ph.D., Catherine intends to take a well-earned nap.