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


  • Alice Margaret Kelly The University of Edinburgh



Emily Dickinson, Femslash, Grace and Frankie, Lesbian literature, Natalie Diaz


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.