Podfic: Queer structures of sound

  • Olivia Johnston Riley University of Wisconsin, Madison
Keywords: AO3, Gender, Sexuality


Podfic is the fan practice of reading fan fiction aloud and sharing recordings with other fans. Podfic highlights how slash fan spaces are structurally queer, resulting in both pleasure and discomfort for various participants. The numerous identities involved in creating, sharing, and consuming podfic—that of the podficcer, the listener, and the characters in the stories—create layers of queer possibility. Podfic encourages the repetition of oblique lines of desire that refuse heteronormativity and immutable, binary gender. Listeners use podfic to build queer soundscapes, using the queer noise of podfic to drown out the dull normalcy of activities like commuting and household chores, and to create a sense of (queer, fannish) connection and community between themselves, the performer, and other listeners. Additionally, "not safe for work, don't play this out loud" warnings on podfic demonstrate how fans negotiate what is and is not appropriate for public spaces and nonprivate listening, particularly in regard to explicit queer sexuality. Podfic enhances and magnifies our understanding of how queerness appears and functions among fans, fan texts, and fan practices; it also reaffirms the diversity of genders at play in these fan spaces.