Swan Queen, shipping, and boundary regulation in fandom

  • Victoria M. Gonzalez Rutgers University
Keywords: Canon, Contention, Fan practices, Fanon, Once Upon a Time (2011–), Popular culture, Sexuality, Tumblr


There are a number of fan activities and practices that are subject to regulation. The mechanisms of regulation in shipping, however, are not always clear. Shipping, the fan activity of romantically pairing two fictional characters, has become a popular and contentious facet of fan interaction. The case that will be examined in this article is that of the Swan Queen ship, which pairs two female characters from Once Upon a Time (2011–). The lengths that fans have gone to support and promote this ship led to rather intense discussion and infighting among members of the Once Upon a Time fandom. I utilize comments and posts made on Tumblr to examine the mechanisms that dictate inclusion and exclusion in shipper communities. In doing so, I hope to identify the kinds of shipper activities that are subject to regulation and the kinds of boundaries that this regulation establishes. Shipping is dictated not only by fans' imaginations but also by boundaries that are performed and regulated on digital forums.

Author Biography

Victoria M. Gonzalez, Rutgers University
Victoria Gonzalez is a Sociology PhD student.