The dysphoric body politic, or Seizing the means of imagination

  • Charlie Ledbetter University of Tübingen
Keywords: Antioppression, Erotic, Escapism, Fan fiction, Political dysphoria, Transgender, Trauma


Although escapism has been used pejoratively in describing fandom, it might be reframed as a reaction to untenable external circumstances. This reformulation of escapism is a starting point for examining how fan fiction is a political practice. In light of the political upheaval in the United States as well as the existential threat of climate change, this is a topical, even urgent, collective project for producing survivable conditions. Fan fiction uniquely diagnoses and imagines alternatives to oppressive political conditions. The lens of political dysphoria, adapted from critical transgender studies and used here to describe the dissonance between dominant political structures and desiring subjects, permits exploration of how fan fiction enables subjects to acknowledge oppressive political conditions, engage in coalitional rebellion, and reimagine societal structures for collective liberation.