Fan fiction as feminist citation: Lesbian (para)textuality in chainofclovers's "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" (2017)

Alice Margaret Kelly

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

[0.1] Abstract—A close reading of an exemplar femslash fan fic, chainofclover's "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" (2017), demonstrates that the language of desire it narrates for canonically heterosexual female characters is anchored by a lesbian (para)textuality. Chainofclovers takes a line from Emily Dickinson’s poem "Wild nights—Wild nights!" for the title of her fan fic for the Grace and Frankie (2015–) TV series. The author enters literary critical discourse and demonstrates feminist models of citation. The use of Dickinson, paired with similar references to the Mojave lesbian poet Natalie Diaz in the chapter epigraphs, provides a new map for the characters to follow, allowing them to travel beyond the canonical confines of compulsory heterosexuality. Just as the canonical characters Grace and Frankie refuse the requirement to cite the men in their lives, instead choosing to cite each other, chainofclovers cites lesbian poetry to imagine a narrative of female desire that is not defined by men. The story thus reflects the feminist citational model that both fan fiction and fan studies can enact, challenging traditional networks of property and ownership by producing a work founded on sustenance and gratitude.

[0.2] Keywords—Emily Dickinson; Femslash; Grace and Frankie; Lesbian literature; Natalie Diaz

Kelly, Alice Margaret. 2019. "Fan Fiction as Feminist Citation: Lesbian (Para)textuality in Chainofclovers's 'Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart.'" Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30.

1. Introduction

[1.1] In the summary for "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" (2017), the first instalment of her femslash fan fic for the TV show Grace and Frankie (2015–), chainofclovers writes, "Grace and Frankie keep missing each other, in every sense of the phrase. Can they decide on a definition of home? This is the sequel to 'Let Your Arms Become Propellers.' It's set several months after the end of Season 3. Title is from the pretty gay Emily Dickinson poem 'Wild nights—Wild nights!'" (chainofclovers 2017). Alexandra Herzog has characterized author notes such as this one as "popular paratextual thresholds that readers cross before entering the fictional universe of a fan text," fan spaces that work to establish the agency of fan authors and vocalize their claim to both their own writing and the source text that inspired it (2012, ¶ 1.2). Conceiving of the author note and other textual spaces that surround the fan work in terms of the paratext invokes Jonathan Gray's work on the paratextuality of promotional materials and how they affect fan engagement or experience. If, as Gray writes, "paratexts tell us what to expect, and in doing so, they shape the reading strategies that we will take with us 'into' the text" (2010, 26), then what chainofclovers is asking us to "take with us 'into'" her text is an understanding of "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" as "pretty gay."

[1.2] In this context, the lines "Done with the Compass— / Done with the Chart!" are marked as exemplarily queer, as the "pretty gay"-ness of the poem condenses here in chainofclovers's reference. As Sara Ahmed (2006) suggests, the language of mapping and orientation (via compasses and charts) has always inflected our vocabulary of sexuality: "The normalization of heterosexuality as an orientation toward 'the other sex' can be redescribed in terms of the requirement to follow a straight line, whereby straightness gets attached to other values including decent, conventional, direct, and honest" (70). In this formulation of heterosexuality as the "requirement to follow a straight line" toward the putatively appropriate object of desire—the opposite sex—queer orientation is not simply the pull toward the same sex but a disavowal of this straight line. In this sense, then, to be "done with the compass" does indeed sound "pretty gay."

[1.3] But it is not just the queerness of the metaphor that chainofclovers instructs us to take with us into her text, through the paratextual threshold of her summary; it is not just the queerness of the words but also of their author. Her reading of "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" evokes the lesbian context of Emily Dickinson's work that Ellen Louise Hart argued had been strategically "omitt[ed] and undermin[ed]" by heteropatriarchal scholarship (1990, 268). It evokes Paula Bennett's description of "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" as a poem "written from the perspective of one who enters, not one who is entered…effectively exclud[ing] the male…[to] focus on female sexuality instead" (1992, 112). It evokes Annalise Brinck-Johnsen's reading of queer temporality of those wild nights themselves (quite directly, as I will come to in due course) (2018). The assertion by chainofclovers that she has chosen this title because it comes from "the pretty gay Emily Dickinson poem" enters her into a discourse of literary criticism; she could be citing Hart, Bennett, and Brinck-Johnsen (as well as many, many others) when she calls the poem gay, just as they could be citing her fic when they imagine a version of Dickinson who would one day be memorialized as gay (Hart) or argue the poem should be acknowledged for envisioning lesbian sexuality (Bennett) or the nights for representing queer temporality (Brinck-Johnsen).

[1.4] I will argue that the queering that happens, the queer literary reading of a canonical female poet—who has been emphatically, strenuously labeled heterosexual (Comment 2009)—that is invoked when chainofclovers uses Dickinson's lines to title a story about women having sex with each other reflects what happens when fan studies are brought to bear on the hallowed halls of literary criticism. Constituting a reading and a recovery that resonates with a history of literary scholarship, chainofclovers's title may be thought of as a kind of citation. But because it is a citation that expands, explicates, and explodes an eight-word couplet from a century and a half ago to create new narratives of queerness and queering, it is the kind of citation that is emblematic of the relationship between fan fic and its sources. Here, I analyze one specific fan fic by one specific (prolific) writer to theorize that when she references lesbian textuality, her fan fiction exemplifies the structurally feminist citational model that fan fiction and fan studies represents.

2. Wild nights for Grace and Frankie

[2.1] Brinck-Johnsen identifies the nights of "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" as moments of ecstasy and sensuality that celebrate "a different form of time," constructing "a meaning that is not created by an ongoing relationship involving courtship, marriage, or family life" (2018, 343). According to Brinck-Johnsen, Dickinson's exultation of short bursts of erotic fantasy reconceptualizes romantic love as fulfilling because it is pleasurable in the moment rather than because it is expected to fulfill the requirements of a heteronormative marriage timetable.

[2.2] This reading of the poem is emphasized in chainofclovers's reference to it: not only does she use the poem to describe queer space (Ahmed 2006) but, through her navigation of the heteronormative baggage that travels with Grace and Frankie from canon, queer temporality too. Grace and Frankie is a Netflix original sitcom centering on the lives of Grace Hanson (played by Jane Fonda) and Frankie Bergstein (played by Lily Tomlin) who (accidentally) move in together after their respective husbands have left them for each other after a twenty-year affair. In the mold of what Alexander Doty calls the "lesbian sitcom," the show thus presents "heterosexually marked characters in lesbian-charged spaces" (1993, 41–43), such as the beach house Grace and Frankie are initially reluctant to share but that soon becomes a material symbol of the freedom and joy of their entwining lives. It is a show in which the audience is encouraged to "identify with" and "take pleasure in" the depth of the bond between these women, "situating most male characters as potential threats to the spectator's narrative pleasure" (41–42). Although Grace and Frankie may appear to be organized around male desire, as the title relationship is entirely catalyzed by the decision of their exes to leave them, this structure is essentially challenged from the moment of its inception. Much of the show's narrative trajectory follows these women prioritizing their own needs over those of the men in their lives, quite literally in the case of the substantial storyline that sees Grace and Frankie become business partners in designing, marketing, and selling vibrators for older women.

[2.3] The very existence of Grace and Frankie femslash fandom further decenters men from the women's relationship, as the catalyst for fan narratives is not the bond between their ex-husbands but the one between these female characters. Building on Doty, Mel Stanfill writes of "structurally lesbian media after the Internet," arguing that some texts are "femslashier than others" (2017, 2), carrying "lesbian potential energy like a compressed spring," which "may or may not ever become kinetic in the media object itself" but on which fans "run their communities…either way" (9). As Stanfill suggests, what fuels female fandom of these femslashier texts comes from the ever-present possibility of lesbianism within the text itself, rather than as an erroneous, unreasonable desire from its audience. There is a latent intimacy and affection between Grace and Frankie throughout the series, which manifests as queer—as nonnormative and label-defying—in any surface reading of the premise of the show, before we even get into the nature of their business venture, or their emotional dependence on each other, or any of the many, many scenes of tactile affection and flirtation between them. As a show so structured by the ending of heteronormative happily ever afters, beginning with the dissolution of that happy ending (the open credits feature a collapsing wedding cake, reiterating this dissolution at the start of every episode) and indeed exposing that happy ending as a lie, Grace and Frankie femslash fandom runs counter to heteronormative time. The very idea of the two women as a romantic pair is infused with the kind of queer understanding of time that Brinck-Johnsen sees in Dickinson's "Wild nights." Over the course of chainofclovers's "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart," this queered timeline is emphasized by the temporal triggering of kinetic queerness and, as I will go on to argue later, built into its core with a chapter structure that follows the adjustment of the nuclear family to queerer timetables.

[2.4] Nighttime becomes a decidedly queer plane for Grace and Frankie in the first two chapters of the fic (chapter 1 is from Grace's perspective, and chapter 2 is from Frankie's), when a long-distance goodnight phone call becomes unexpectedly erotic. The fic is set after the end of the third season, the finale of which suggested that Frankie, urged on by a conflicted Grace, would move to Santa Fe to be with her boyfriend Jacob. After Frankie asks her if she has been taking care of herself and performing quality control for their vibrator company, Grace decides she cannot wait for the call to end "to run the fingers of her right hand down her [own] neck, to graze the collar of her pajamas, to streak a bit lower until she's touching one of her breasts through her shirt," a decision that ultimately leads an aroused and confused Frankie to hang up (chainofclovers 2017). Chapter 2 follows the consequences of the call for Frankie as she returns to her nighttime routine with Jacob; as he washes up, lightly asking after Grace, Frankie blurts, "'We almost had phone sex'" (chainofclovers 2017). This fic's premise of intimacy revolves around the idea of "wild nights" as a time of queerness, manifesting as a moment in which ecstasy and sensuality between women—Grace touching herself through her shirt, while Frankie listens—is privileged over the monotonous rituals of heteronormative domesticity.

[2.5] The epigraph that precipitates chapter 1—forming another layer of literary paratextual threshold for the fic's readers—underlines this queer nightscape imagined here, as chainofclovers cites the American Mojave lesbian poet Natalie Diaz, and her poem "From the Desire Field" (2017):

[2.6] Maybe this is what Lorca meant
when he said, verde que te quiero verde—
because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.

[2.7] Giving words to the burgeoning, burdened desire blooming between Grace and Frankie "when the shade of the night comes," this second extratextual (intertextual) reference works alongside the first, that of "the pretty gay Emily Dickinson poem," to alert the reader to the specific temporality in which the queerness that defines the text will become, in Stanfill's word, "kinetic": the night. As each of the Grace chapters (1, 6, and 10) begins with another epigraph from "From the Desire Field," Diaz's words offer chainofclovers a greater lexicon with which to signal to her readers the thematics and schematics of the instalments that follow them.

[2.8] Where chapter 6 is headed by Diaz's "Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.," the following chapter gives voice to Grace's desire for Frankie as an intersection of fear and yearning: "There's a little lightning bolt of apprehension as Grace rolls onto her back, but it's smaller than what she wants, which is to show Frankie, for Frankie to look at her, for Frankie to touch" (chainofclovers 2017). To give shape to the "lightning bolt of apprehension" Grace feels, chainofclovers asks us to take with us into this chapter Diaz's "anxiety as desire as garden" so that we might imagine Grace's experience here in terms of fecundity, growth, and nature. Similarly, in chapter 10, the Diaz epigraph "I want her green life. Her inside me / in a green hour I can't stop" foreshadows the needs Grace hopes Frankie can satiate: "'Everywhere,' Grace murmurs, meaning I feel this everywhere, meaning You can touch me everywhere" (chainofclovers 2017). The epigraph could be seen as framing Grace's desire for Frankie in terms of penetration ("Her inside me"), but it also insists we conceive of their sexual encounter as "green"—connoting freshness, even purity, and rooting this sensation in nature again—so that the boundlessness of Grace's erotic sensations are primed for the reader by a paratext that colors everything that follows. Throughout the fic, Diaz's garden imagery forms a vocabulary of lesbian sexuality—one that is not on offer from the source text, Grace and Frankie—that prefigures the articulation of a romantic, explicitly sexual, relationship between these "heterosexually marked characters" (Doty 1993, 43). To speak desires the show leaves unspoken, or refuses to find words for, chainofclovers refers her writing to another text.

[2.9] Only the Grace chapters feature epigraphs, which means that Diaz's naturescape is exclusively tied to Grace's experience of her emerging sexuality, so this particular paratext is embedded inextricably into the interior landscape of this particular character. The specific paratextual foreshadowing of the Grace chapter epigraphs exemplifies and also highlights the way the overarching paratext of Dickinson's "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" affects the more general structure of the text. "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" follows the queer temporality that Brinck-Johnsen identifies in "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)"; where Brinck-Johnsen sees this poem as Dickinson's rejection of the heteronormative timetable of marriage and family (in favor of immediacy and hedonistic pleasure), the chapter breakdown of chainofclovers's fic explores how family and domestic union can adapt to the timelines of queer pleasure.

[2.10] In addition to the three chapters from Grace's perspective and the three from Frankie's, the remaining four chapters follow each of their adult children as they learn that Frankie has decided to return to San Diego to be with Grace. From each of Frankie's sons respectively wondering, upon finding out about the new relationship, why they had already been subconsciously referring to Grace as a stepparent, to Grace's youngest daughter feeling "not a reversal, exactly, but a responsibility" to question Frankie as her father had done when she'd brought boys home, the familial roles both women have been playing in each other's lives (and families) are parodied, rehearsed, rehashed, and interrogated. Chainofclovers infuses these maternal relationships with the insistence that not only would they withstand queering, not only would each supporting character adapt to structural lesbianism becoming manifest, but that the text and its characters would survive because these relationships have been queer—or queer-able—all along.

[2.11] In chapter 9, the sensual and ecstatic construction of time to which Brinck-Johnsen's reading suggests Dickinson's "wild nights" allude is even more directly explored, as Grace, effectively coming out to her oldest daughter Brianna, imagines a narrative for herself in which her life would have been organized by pleasure rather than conformity:

[2.12] "I just—I really want you of all people to know that if I hadn't been so dead, if I'd known sooner, really known, I'd have done something about it." She swipes at tears with the back of her wrist. "Maybe you and Mal would've been bullied at school. I would have hated that, but even that would've been better than all the lies I was telling you without even realizing it."

"Oh, Mommy." So dead. She was dead. The whole time she was making Brianna's teenage years a screaming nightmare, and Brianna was paying her back tenfold? A dead woman. Her mother. (chainofclovers 2017)

[2.13] The queer temporality that the reference to "Wild nights—Wild nights! (269)" invokes is extrapolated on and reimagined in challenging and meaningful ways by chainofclovers, as both Grace and her daughter are confronted with the damage that conforming to heteronormative familial roles has done to their relationship. While the ecstasy and joy of Grace and Frankie's erotic contact infuses the story, it brings with it an awareness of the attendant acceptance of the unecstatic or joylessness that straight temporality can demand and has demanded of them up until now. By citing Dickinson's "pretty gay" poem, chainofclovers queers not only that text—and its author, and the source text upon which her writing expands, and the characters her writing reanimates—but all of the pasts, presents, and futures she has imagined for them. In this way, chainofclovers's citations both of Diaz and Dickinson work like Clare Hemmings describes when she calls citation the technique through which narratives "are secured and made believable" (2011, 20). This paratextuality of lesbian literature signals and cements the queer narrative potential of chainofclovers's version of these characters by providing a language with which to speak it.

3. Feminist citation

[3.1] In Living a Feminist Life, Ahmed builds on her work in Queer Phenomenology to conceptualize a feminist citation policy through a lexicon of orientation. Describing citation as "feminist memory," Ahmed explains that "citation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before; those who helped us find our way when the way was obscured because we deviated from the paths we were told to follow" (2017, 15–16). In Ahmed's construction, feminist citation can be thought of as another way of being "done with the compass, done with the chart" of heteropatriarchy and choosing instead to follow the tracks that have been obscured by its scholarship. Her decision not to cite white men is an effort to rely instead on "the intellectual genealogy of feminism and antiracism, including work that has been too quickly (in my view) cast aside or left behind, work that lays out other paths, paths we can call desire lines, created by not following the official paths laid out by disciplines" (15). She explains that the term "desire lines" comes from "landscape architecture for the paths on the ground created when enough people do not take the official route" (270). Enough people not taking the official route "laid out by disciplines" resonates with fan studies as a field of knowledge, but it also names femslash fan fiction as a practice—the decision of enough people to be "done with the compass" of compulsory heterosexuality, the map that only ever directs female characters toward men.

[3.2] Eugenia Zuroski's reading of Ahmed's citation policy evokes something of the citational relationships fan fiction represents. Zuroski writes that the patriarchal model of citation "would say to *you*: your idea would be nothing without this wisdom you received from me, so make sure to put my name on it. It's proprietary—designed to make sure the same handful of experts get credited for all work in the field, which they consider theirs" (2018a). She contrasts this with what she calls "the feminist model of citation," which she says "honors your agency as a scholar to determine the intellectual lineage you wish to represent and move forward. A citation is a form of gratitude and you are allowed to withhold it" (2018b). Against the patriarchal paradigm of citation as the institutional mechanism by which certain ideas are secured as belonging to "the same handful of experts," feminist citation is the practice of new scholars thanking old ones for their inspiration. In other words, where patriarchal citation excludes, recirculating the same small number of rightful knowledge-bearers, feminist citation includes, inviting us to acknowledge that which keeps us going and which we, in turn, would like to keep going.

[3.3] I am particularly struck by Zuroski's description of patriarchal citation as proprietary, as opposed to the way she talks of feminist citation in terms of sustenance, because of the resonance these terms carry for the relationship between fans, the work that sustains them (source texts), and the work they produce to sustain it and each other (fan works). As Francesca Coppa contends, fan fiction, as a category, draws attention to the discourses of property and ownership that stratify cultural production: "The definition of fan fiction as applying only to works currently covered by copyright, trademark, or some other intellectual property scheme serves to emphasize the (very odd) fact that stories can be owned" (2017, 6). In this way, fan fiction marks and is marked by the space between imagination and property, the tension inherent in the idea that some narratives are so defined as belonging to certain people that those who repeat those narratives owe their owners a debt.

[3.4] This difference between the "thank you" of feminist citation versus the "I owe you" of traditional patriarchal citation naturally evokes the dynamic of fandom's gift economy. Karen Hellekson argues that the gift economy is an innately feminist social structure. She contends that in patriarchal economies women are the gifts, the objects of exchange; but "in female fandom's gift culture," because "gifts correlate to aspects of the self, such as time or talent," "this sort of exchange turns one role of woman and gift on its head: the woman is still the gift, but now she can give herself" (2009, 116). Rather than an object of exchange, the women are subjects of exchange in fannish gift culture, both in the sense of being the economic actors circulating their wares and of selecting the highly individualized parts of themselves (desires, interpretations, voices) that they choose to give and receive. Where Hellekson argues that the "new gendered space" this exchange creates coheres through "the circulation of gifts" rather than money—which is "deliberately repudiate[d]…because it is gendered male"—she reminds me of the way that Ahmed and Zuroski conceptualize citations as objects of exchange. Feminist citational models repudiate the circulation of citations as markers of intellectual currency paid to enshrine the academic status of certain (white male) thinkers, ones that erode the subjective voice of the person citing to secure the objective wisdom of the person being cited. Instead, feminist citation seeks a "new gendered space" of exchange, built on gratitude and shared memory, that, like any "thank you," invites and celebrates the subjectivity of both parties in the exchange. In this way, then, we can think of feminist citation as the academic equivalent of the fannish gift economy that Hellekson describes.

[3.5] There are obvious limitations to any argument that relies on the infallibility of the gift economy's feminist credentials. Tisha Turk points out that the gift economy is hardly egalitarian, describing it as "fundamentally asymmetrical," given that "most fans receive far more gifts than we give" (2014, ¶ 3.4). Abigail De Kosnik, meanwhile, maintains that "even though fan fiction is exchanged for free" money is being made from it but only by the "corporate owners of the media properties that fic authors so creatively elaborate on" because its proliferation still "works as advertising" for said properties (2009, 124). As Suzanne Scott writes, the very existence of fandom as "grassroots production…inspired by the consumption of commercial media texts" means that the fannish gift economy is "always already enmeshed" in capitalism's commodity culture (2009, ¶ 1.4).

[3.6] However, the interplay between the gifting of the fan text and the property of the media object actually reinforces rather than foreclosing the citational analogy. In "Writing Bodies in Space," Coppa speaks to that interplay as another layer of fan fiction's textuality that can be thought of as citational. She posits fan fiction as "more a kind of theatre than a kind of prose" (2006, 222), arguing that

[3.7] If traditional theatre takes a script and makes it three-dimensional in a potentially infinite number of productions, modern fandom takes something three-dimensional and then produces an infinite number of scripts. This is not authoring texts, but making productions—relying on the audience's shared extratextual knowledge of sets and wardrobes, of the actors' bodies and their smiles and movements—to direct a living theatre in the mind. (239)

[3.8] The connection between the fan text and this extratextual knowledge (which comes from the consumption of the commercial media property) to which the fan writer is always referring—actors, sets, costumes—mirrors the way citations work academically, as objects of shared knowledge exchanged between the writer and the reader to build a consensus and secure the vision the writer is trying to share. When chainofclovers writes, "Grace can picture the way Frankie's eyes crinkle with joy as she says her name" (chainofclovers 2017), she is citing an extratextual element (Lily Tomlin's eyes) that she knows the reader can picture (because of their Netflix subscription), just like Grace. She is saying to us, "So, you know when Lily-Tomlin-as-Frankie crinkles her eyes with joy? Well, this is what she looks like now in the story"—which isn't so dissimilar from me saying, "So you know when Sara Ahmed calls citation 'feminist memory'? Well, that's like what I'm saying now in my essay." We are both trying to "secure" our narratives; we are both trying to "make them believable" (Hemmings 2011). If the patriarchal citational model works to perpetuate the idea that certain ideas are owned, and feminist citation works against this model to create and replenish those "desire lines" that lead us away from it, I see fan fiction as feminist citation in action: a lineage of desires that require something already-said—what Coppa, borrowing from Schechner, calls "twice-behaved behaviors" (2006, 228)—to be said again, in a different way.

[3.9] Judith Fathallah's work on the way fan writers enunciate their author role when their authority is denied by the creators of the sources that have inspired them suggests that fan fiction can operate like feminist citation (honoring those who've gone before, who've created our desire lines, rather than being indebted to the genius who owns the story), even when it is bound by frameworks of patriarchal property. Where George R. R. Martin disavows the right of fan fiction of his A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) series to exist, what Fathallah calls the "legitimation paradox"—where the transformative power of the fan work to reevaluate "the Other…is enabled and enacted through the cultural capital of the White male" (2017, 9–10)—is complicated by the fact that fan works keep being produced despite Martin's disapproval. Fathallah argues that in the relationship between Martin and ASOIAF and Game of Thrones fan writers, "the fan's writing stakes out its own place in defiance of those power structures already defined by the author and the legal frameworks he invokes" (2016, 76). In the face of a proprietary citational relationship between fan work and source text, ongoing fan production becomes "deconstructive of the concept of original, essentialist texts authored by God and White men" (2017, 13). Thus, the citation that fan fiction constitutes, the connection invoked between fan work and source text, can be feminist, can acknowledge the sustenance of an idea, and can develop it so it can continue to sustain, even when the patriarchal model of property and debt is being demanded of it.

[3.10] To describe feminist citation in these terms is to evoke Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's "reparative reading position," which teaches us "the many ways selves and communities succeed in extracting sustenance from the objects of a culture—even from a culture whose avowed desire has often been not to sustain them" (2002, 150–51). In spite of a cultural product that comes with an avowed, stated desire for fan work to be prohibited, the ASOIAF/Game of Thrones fan writers of whom Fathallah writes continue to extract sustenance—and, crucially, to sustain each other—nonetheless. Rita Felski's description of "reparative reading" as a "stance that looks to a work of art for solace and replenishment" (2015, 151) applies not just to the approach of fan writers to source texts but also to the way fan fiction can circulate for its readers, as the Tumblr user sproings writes: "They read it when they're feeling down. They open it in the waiting room at the doctors office, or in the lonesome dark of night. They turn to it in celebration when they did something right. They open it over and over so they can send the link to their friends, or just to revisit the characters that they love" (sproings 2015). Fan fiction is both a product and a producer of reparative reading, representing not only the effort to turn to a work of art for replenishment (even if that artwork works against replenishing certain consumers) but also the replenishment one reparative reading can produce for others. It is this reparative aspect of Ahmed's construction of feminist citation that I think is most at stake in chainofclovers's citations in "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart."

4. Citation needed: A life without men

[4.1] Ahmed's argument of compulsory heterosexuality—"in effect, a citational relational, a requirement to live a life by citing men" (2017, 216)—is at the crux of both the narrative chainofclovers tells of two women extricating themselves from that requirement and my understanding of how she tells that story. Thinking of heteronormativity as a citational policy, as a social structure in which female sexuality is only imaginable as it relates to the desires of men (so male desire may be the point around which female desire is oriented and organized), suggests that to escape this kind of topography would require another map altogether. To be truly done with the compass, you need desire lines to help you find your way. This is where the lesbian paratextual bibliography chainofclovers creates comes into play as feminist methodology.

[4.2] The "citational relational" of compulsory heterosexuality also describes the scripts that those Dickinson scholars choosing to read her queerly must work against (Comment 2009). In order to make her case for the lesbian content of Dickinson's writing, Bennett challenges feminist-heterosexual readings of Dickinson by comparing her more unambiguously heterosexual poetry to her queerer works. Reading "The Daisy follows the Sun," Bennett draws attention to the gendered power dynamics at play in this text's construction of desire: "For her to have power equal to her male lover's, she had to take, steal, or seduce it from him—or they both had to be dead. Given nineteenth-century gender arrangements (including the arrangements within the Dickinson household), it is not surprising that the poet thought of heterosexual relationships in this way" (1992, 108). Bennett argues that heterosexual love in Dickinson's writing often exists around, through, and in the gaps of the patriarchal structures that stratify the articulation of desire or locate it within the body of the straight white male. Bennett goes on to contend that when Dickinson scholars deny the primacy of homoeroticism in her work, they privilege male sexuality as meaning-making by default: "feminist-heterosexual interpretations of Dickinson's poetry testify all too vividly to the degree to which, as Irigaray says, female sexuality remains 'enveloped' in the needs and desires of men, despite the woman-centeredness of the feminist vision" (121).

[4.3] Just as Bennett's queer reading of Dickinson insists on a feminist understanding of sexuality in her poetry—where prioritizing the desire of women for women necessarily means prioritizing female desire that is not defined in relation to men—chainofclovers's "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" redirects the putatively feminist narrative of Grace and Frankie, two older women rediscovering their desires away from the hidden centrality of the needs of men. When chainofclovers cites "the pretty gay Emily Dickinson poem" for her title, she is referencing what Bennett calls Dickinson's "woman-centred sexuality and textuality" (1992, 118) to build new citational relational pathways, following those desire lines off the beaten track of compulsory heterosexuality. She is relying on a different bibliography, a different word-history, to voice her version of these characters. As Herzog writes, "In an essential way, it is this paratext that serves to liberate the fan text from the voice of the original producers and replace it with the fannish voice" (2012, 5.3).

[4.4] Chainofclovers's fannish voice regularly interrogates the citational requirement of compulsory heterosexuality. Her characters deal with the canonical baggage of "the needs and desires of men" (Bennett 1992, 121) that structure their lives in the show, time and again:

[4.5] Deep down, Frankie has known for a long time that Grace would be happier with a woman. Even when Grace has genuinely cared for a man, their connection has been discordant—tortured, even—and ultimately disappointing. It's still hard for her to talk about Phil. And when she admitted to Frankie that she'd finally made good on her agreement to spend two hours with Nick "Skullcap" Skolka, she tried to laugh off her revulsion, the way she'd ducked away from his goodnight kiss, but panic undercut every sentence. "I'm fluent in Nick," she'd said. "But I can't keep forgiving myself for it." (chainofclovers 2017)

[4.6] Frankie's thoughts on the heterosexual romances that occupy Grace in canon reflect how dominant her interactions with men have been in shaping her character on the show. In the fic, however, these relationships are recontextualised to read as part of a broader narrative of inevitable lesbian desire, which also constitutes a much deeper meditation on her identity than the canon offers. Similarly, Frankie's relationship with Jacob is reframed as part of a commentary on the citational relational of compulsory heterosexuality, when she remembers Grace's thoughts about her decision to move to Santa Fe: "Before Frankie left La Jolla, Grace had worried—out loud, of course—about Frankie's decision to sell her car, and for the first time she understands what Grace meant by 'trading one kind of dependency for another.' What if Jacob wasn't a good person?" (chainofclovers 2017). Over the course of "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart," this citational relational is exposed and repaired, as both Grace and Frankie move from being able to identify the way each other's lives have been organized by the requirement to cite men to reflecting on their own dependencies.

[4.7] The intense nature of Frankie's ongoing relationship with her ex-husband Sol is a source of much conflict on the show because he remains the primary point of contact in her life long after he divorces her, but in "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" she questions her own impulses to share so much of herself with him. When Grace chooses to gradually reduce her alcohol consumption in order to safely abide by Frankie's request that she be sober for the first time they have sex, Frankie wants "to ask Sol if he thinks the internet is reputable enough for Grace to take its tapering advice" but resolves that he "knows less about the internet than she does. He knows less about Grace" (chainofclovers 2017). Instead, she decides that Grace is the person she needs to talk to about their relationship, not Sol:

[4.8] Until she and Grace have talked more, Sol doesn't deserve to know that Grace and alcohol are "It's Complicated." She thinks 2007 called and wants its joke back, and even that's something Sol wouldn't understand. He doesn't deserve to know that she and Grace are in love. It's theirs, their knowledge to treasure, to tend and keep safe. Sol will be the last to know. (chainofclovers 2017)

[4.9] In place of her lifelong dependency on Sol, she begins to imagine herself, her desires, her future, not just with someone else but in a relationship that does not require Sol's input in any way, a relationship he does not define, did not inspire, and for which he does not need to be credited or acknowledged. Her decisions are hers to make here, a discourse that also threads through Grace's thoughts on their new life together.

[4.10] When Grace tells Brianna about her feelings for Frankie, the citational relational—the, in this case, almost literal requirement to cite men—that structured her marriage to Robert is central to how she understands, and has understood, her own relationship to desire:

[4.11] "One time I asked your dad if we could get a cat," Grace says. "It must have been forty years ago."

So you've always liked pussy!, Brianna manages not to say. If this conversation was with anyone but her mother—literally anyone—she wouldn't have managed such restraint. "Okay," Brianna says.

"Did you hear me, though?"

"You asked Dad if you could get one. Like, you had to get his permission." (chainofclovers 2017)

[4.12] Although her interpretation is obviously expressed in a completely different register from that of Grace, it is significant that Brianna, albeit comically, hears this as a chapter of Grace's coming out narrative. Grace's story suggests that, for her, not being married means not needing to ask Robert's permission; her post-divorce life, as chainofclovers imagines it, is constituted by the lack of the citational relational of which Ahmed writes; but her post-divorce life, and indeed this very conversation with Brianna, is also constituted by her desire for Frankie. This narrative, and particularly the unspoken association Brianna makes upon hearing it, suggests that Grace's feelings for Frankie, their life together, allows her "to exit from the requirements of compulsory heterosexuality" (Ahmed 2017, 216). Their sexual contact is marked by this lack of citation. Indeed, Grace's story is echoed in the following chapter when she asks Frankie if she can touch herself: "'Grace,' Frankie breathes, 'do this whenever you want. Alone, in front of me, doesn't matter. You don't need my permission. […] You know that, right? You don't need my permission?'" (chainofclovers 2017). In chainofclovers's version, Grace and Frankie's choices not to cite the men in their lives, not to ask permission for their desires, not to require the structure of heteronormativity to define their sexuality, are tied up in their decision to cite each other. Lesbianism is framed as a remedy for these characters, a desire line that allows them to deviate from the path of compulsory heterosexuality (the straight and narrow) and step into a female textuality/sexuality, given voice by Dickinson and Diaz.

[4.13] When Grace allows herself to fantasize about what this new citational strategy might look like, we are reminded again of the queer temporality Dickinson's wild nights offer as paratextual reference. The sensual pleasure that Brinck-Johnsen identifies in the poem and reads as troubling to heteronormative timelines that value marriage and family life as natural happy endings manifests in Grace's longer ruminations on what her life would have looked like without the citational relational of her heterosexual marriage. As Grace remembers "Brianna in her lavender prom dress, impatiently posing for photos in the front yard" and "Robert's doting, hand-wringing concern [which] had felt tiresome and dated even then," she realizes she no longer has "to bother with Robert's part in the story": "She moves the memory to the beach house, replaces Robert with Frankie, lets herself imagine Frankie embarrassing Brianna, the oldest of the four kids" (chainofclovers 2017). Grace's real-life memory of her younger daughter, Mallory, "taking mental notes for own prom two years down the road" is also transported to "this revision of history," where she is joined by Frankie's sons. Grace imagines the boys pointedly ignoring the occasion and clamoring to order in for dinner as soon as Brianna and her date drive away:

[4.14] And how would the delivery man know he was at the right house? Because of the mailbox, clearly labeled not only with the house number but with BERGSTEIN and HANSON, their names borrowed from two men they'd stopped needing. Or maybe, consciousnesses raised, they would have returned those names. But would she and Frankie have wanted to take back quiet, painful names from quiet, painful fathers? Would they have invented something else to call themselves— (chainofclovers 2017)

[4.15] A longer consideration of how a queerer familial structure could have made Grace's memories more pleasurable, this domestic scene imagines the joy of her life with Frankie in relation to their successful renunciation of the citational relational. In Grace's fantastical queer timeline, they require neither husbands, "two men they'd stopped needing," nor "quiet, painful fathers" to provide them with the language to signify what is between them. The question of how to name what they have created together is instead answered by a lesbian paratextuality that calls it "green life" (Diaz) and a life "without compass, without chart" (Dickinson). These words "secure" it and "make it believable" (Hemmings 2011) because they give it a history; they remind us that the citational relational can be replaced and overcome.

5. Citing chainofclovers

[5.1] For Bennett, the lesbian textuality that Dickinson left behind, which she tracks through the poet's continual use of clitoral symbols (such as crumb, jewel, berry, pea, pebble, bee, pearl), is characterized as the refusal to define her sexuality in relation to men, to cite her desire as belonging to them: "In privileging the clitoris over the vagina, Dickinson privileged the female sexual organ whose pleasure was clearly independent of the male" (1992, 123). Deploying many of the terms from what she calls Dickinson's "clitoral poetry," Bennett concludes her paper with the idea that "her 'crumb' was 'small' but it was also 'plenty.' It was 'enough'" (123). From my own correspondence with chainofclovers, it strikes me that her queer reading of Grace and Frankie is enough for her, too, when she writes, "because I trust the characters and the acting more than I trust the showrunners or the framing of the show, I'm okay with injecting that queerness myself" (chainofclovers, email to author, November 1, 2018). Because of the "living theatre of the mind" (Coppa 2006, 239), chainofclovers is able to direct for herself and her readers; she can see that queerness there, even if others cannot, so she can build her own lesbian textuality for the audience that wants to see it, too.

[5.2] This point, or how I am able to make it, brings me to perhaps the most keenly feminist citational practice that the study of fan fiction engenders. Where Fathallah contends that fan works can deconstruct the founding concept of an originary, hermetic text belonging to the (white male) author-God (2017, 13), Coppa retools the cultural distinctions between author and (fan-)writer, which typically elevate the work of the former, to posit the (female) fan fiction writer as the author-God's antithesis:

[5.3] In fandom, the author may be dead, but the writer—that actively scribbling, embodied woman—is very much alive. You can talk to her; you can write to her and ask her questions about her work, and she will probably write back to you and answer them. She might enjoy discussing larger plot, style, and characterization points with you if you engage her in critical conversation. (2006, 238–39).

[5.4] In researching this paper, I engaged chainofclovers in such a conversation about the references she uses for her title and the epigraphs to her "Grace" chapters. Her response greatly affected how I came to see my own understanding of her writing.

[5.5] Where I had been conceiving of her use of Dickinson as "taking mainstream, canonical poetry and insisting that it speaks a language of queer love and sexuality" to provide "both a queer reading of Dickinson and a legitimisation" of the queer story she wanted to tell (Alice Margaret Kelly, email to chainofclovers, November 2, 2018), she replied that

[5.6] The Dickinson title is absolutely a queer reading of a work/person/segment of history that isn't KNOWN as queer even if Dickinson's read as queer, assumed queer, etc. I wanted the title to queer up both the way the poem gets read and the fic itself, to kind of say "If you're past the point where your map or compass are of any use to you, fuck it, you have to go your own way. The poem said it, and now the characters in this story need to change in that same way, need to make that leap. Let's put in the work to turn this into something queer, to help these characters make the decisions they need to make. (chainofclovers, email to author, December 6, 2018)

[5.7] Dickinson's establishment within the literary canon helped chainofclovers to "put in the work" of queering putatively heterosexual characters by providing the desire lines that can redirect them from the map of heteronormativity they must follow on the show. Although this tallied with my own interpretation of the Dickinson title, chainofclovers urged me to look again at the role of her Diaz epigraphs, arguing "the Dickinson and Diaz references sort of do something opposite from each other":

[5.8] With Diaz, who's a contemporary lesbian poet writing poems that are explicitly, straightforwardly about love of women—among so many other things—it felt more like saying of course all this is queer. Unlike with Dickinson, there's no need for me or any other writer to "insist [Diaz's poem] speaks a language of queer love and sexuality" because Diaz laid it all out there, didn't even need to insist. And there's no need to stretch or alter or reframe Grace Hanson's experiences of desire to fit that queer narrative; this poem about—among so many other things—queer desire isn't a potential destination or unturned possibility for Grace, but a reflection of what's there. (chainofclovers, email to author, November 1, 2018)

[5.9] This idea that the lesbian (para)textuality chainofclovers gives her version of Grace—in the form of her Diaz epigraphs—reflects not the "unturned possibility" but the path she is obviously ("of course") already taking contrasts to her use of Dickinson to name the "leap" she wanted these characters to make. Yet while both references might describe contradictory conceptualizations of queer desire (from queerness as a movement, as something the body takes itself toward in the Dickinson, to the inevitability and stillness of Diaz's desire, emanating from the body from the inside out) textually, they both perform the same task. They secure and make believable chainofclovers's proposition that Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein could choose to turn toward each other and away from men.

[5.10] The cultural space in which this choice exists, a fan work that commits to it joyfully regardless of whether it might ever manifest in canon, evokes again the time and space of Dickinson's poem. Brinck-Johnsen reminds us that though "these nights are described as the product of an ongoing relationship, the entire poem is a thought experiment—'were I with thee'" (2018, 343). Crucially, while these wild nights "occur solely in the conditional…the use of exclamation points serves to make the theorizing of the nights seem ecstatically joyful, not tragic or melancholy" (343). The thought experiment of the poem does not make the sensuality imagined therein any less pleasurable or material. We might, then, think of the conditionality of the poem's eroticism as a cited fantasy; if you were with me, it would sound like this. The citational practice of fan fiction is built on "were I with thee"s, as writers like chainofclovers take the words of desire that have been spoken before and put in the work required to make the specific characters they need to speak them, speak them anew.

[5.11] In a similar vein, I have found the words to describe how I feel about chainofclovers's "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" in Coppa's description of a Star Trek fan song, which had been described by Joan Marie Verba as a poem. Coppa analyses the "stage directions" of the work, the idea that it is meant to performed by "two voices and a Vulcan harp," to suggest that "perhaps some readers actually sang the song with their friends" (2006, 229). From this, Coppa concludes that "it's not a poem, it's a party; it's an artwork that implies a community." The way chainofclovers refers to "the pretty gay Emily Dickinson poem" means that it is also not a poem but a party, a community of readers who believe in women choosing each other, a culture of feminist art that is not structured by the requirement to cite men but by the desire lines of lesbian textuality.

6. Conclusion

[6.1] In her use of Dickinson and Diaz, chainofclovers queers both the literary canon—bringing one famous poet who is sometimes read as queer into the same orbit as one contemporary one who is openly LGBTQ—and the canon of Grace and Frankie. The textual framework she constructs around her story of lesbian desire, knitting together a lexicon of female-centered eroticism, acts as a scaffold for the narrative she tells of two women choosing to cite (to turn to, to ask of, to find security in, to credit) each other rather than the men in their lives. The feminist model of citation that takes place within "Done with the Compass, Done with the Chart" thus mirrors the feminist model of citation that is taking place outside of it, as chainofclovers builds a lesbian (para)textuality, a bibliography of queer female references, upon which to articulate the possibility of this relationship. In this way, her fic draws attention to the extent to which feminist citational models organize fan work as a cultural practice. As feminist citation in action, fan fiction can give us the map to our desire lines, guiding us away from the expected tracks of compulsory heterosexuality and into the "green life," "without compass, without chart."

7. References

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Zuroski, Eugenia (@zugenia). 2018a. "The patriarchal model would say to *you*: your idea would be nothing without this wisdom you received from me, so make sure to put my name on it. It's proprietary—designed to make sure the same handful of experts get credited for all work in the field, which they consider theirs." Twitter, October 30, 2018, 1:14 p.m.

Zuroski, Eugenia (@zugenia). 2018b. "But the feminist model of citation honors your agency as a scholar to determine the intellectual lineage you wish to represent and move forward. A citation is a form of gratitude and you are allowed to withhold it." Twitter, October 30, 2018, 1:17 p.m.