Doctor Who–themed weddings and the performance of fandom

  • Jessica Elizabeth Johnston University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Keywords: Heteronormativity, Identity, Narrative, Objects, Tradition


Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the science fiction/fantasy TV series Doctor Who (1963–1986, 1996, 2005–), 50 couples chose to marry, renew vows, and engage in civil partnerships during a mass Doctor Who–themed wedding in London. By using Doctor Who fandom as a case study, I explore how fans are able to construct, define, and maintain their identity in wedding culture by the meaning they ascribe to objects present in the wedding performance. By using the concept of weddings as performance narratives, I describe how fans are able to tell the story of their experience and identification with fandom, but because not everyone identifies with fandom, fans must communicate this narrative in a highly selective manner, choosing details that both satisfy their identities as fans and make sense to a diverse audience of fans and nonfans alike. In doing so, fans are negotiating this identity within the heteronormative structure of wedding culture. The presence of the wedding ceremony reveals that fan identity and performance, despite seeming subversive to mainstream, are actually influenced and shaped by these traditional spaces and rituals.

Author Biography

Jessica Elizabeth Johnston, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
I'm a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Media, Cinema & Digital Studies program in the English Department at UW-Milwaukee.