Fan Fiction

Authored by: Anne Kustritz

The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946156
eBook ISBN: 9781315670997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that although fan creativity and fairy tales are often classified and studied differently because of their differing positions within debates on the history of mass reproduction, market capitalism, authenticity, and folk culture, they nonetheless maintain important continuities and offer fruitful paths for academics and storytellers when considered together. In particular, both utilize repetition and collective authorship, and both have been marked by their gendered association with women and children. While many cultural theorists ascribe homogenizing, authoritarian, or apolitical tendencies to narrative repetition, others speculate that repetition with a difference can open a space for cultural critique. Examining one possible intersection of fan fiction and fairy tales, the fairy-tale alternate universe or AU genre, demonstrates one such opportunity, wherein by rewriting popular culture through the lens of the fairy tale, fans mobilize shared, public domain characters and plots to negotiate, discuss, and critique modern culture. Two short examples of the fairy-tale AU demonstrate the radical potential of this tactic, as fan authors utilize the familiarity of fairy-tale romantic plots and happy endings to naturalize non-normative sexual practices, pairings, and identities while simultaneously queering pop culture and the fairy tale.

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