Abusing text in the Roman and contemporary worlds

  • Francesca Middleton University of Cambridge
Keywords: Commerciality, Fan fiction, Galen, Harry Potter, Martial, Material text


In this comparison of portraits of authorial anxiety, I focus on contemporary attitudes to fan fiction and on discussions of authors in Imperial Rome (notably Galen and Martial) to consider the assumptions of textuality that frame imagined textual abuse. Revealed are parallel discourses for different concerns—for the reader as a potentially ill-educated consumer and the text as an object in the ancient world; in the contemporary world, for the author's personal violation and the text as an agent within readerly experience. I discuss how fan fiction's lack of commercial publication is used to distinguish it from other contemporary literature within this framework. Fan fiction's noncommercial publication can thus be appreciated as a marginalizing act in itself.

Author Biography

Francesca Middleton, University of Cambridge
I am Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge (until 2018), where I am also Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at Murray Edwards College.