Borderland literature, female pleasure, and the slash fic phenomenon

  • Erica Lyn Massey Southern Methodist University
Keywords: AO3, Fandom studies, Gloria Anzaldúa, Marvel, Queer, Sex, Slash, Women


In the discussion of media and borderlands theory, current scholarship primarily attends to investigating borderlands as metaphors for broader minority critique, where niche, representative publications resist hegemonic mass-market productions. However, scholarship has yet to formally extend the borderlands paradigm to slash fan fiction—that is, examining a subaltern where residents display a hybridity of opposing culture. Looking at slash and its predominantly female, often queer, writers through the lens of Gloria Anzaldúa's notion of a borderlands offers insight into the values and motivations of writers and consumers in their production of fan fiction, not just within the microcosm of fandom but also pertaining to wider social and cultural transformations. This investigation considers the circumstances dictating female fan experience by examining the practical and contextual dimensions of fandom and illustrating how fan works differ ontologically, epistemologically, and functionally from mainstream productions, thus facilitating a critique on how fans construct and mobilize imaginary as means of negotiating the real social structures that otherwise limit their enjoyment of consumable media and the transformative works they create that nonetheless mirror the systems of marginalization found in the real world.