Gender and Fan Studies (Round Five, Part One):Geoffrey Long and Catherine Tosenberger

Introducing Our Protagonists

Geoffrey: Hi, I’m Geoffrey Long, and I recently completed my Master’s degree from the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT. Back in 2003 I read this article in the Technology Review about something called transmedia storytelling, written by some guy named Henry Jenkins. The piece really resonated with me, so I sent Henry an email to ask him some more about it — never imagining that the resulting conversation would last for over four years and culminate in Henry being the advisor for my Master’s thesis, which wound up being about, surprise surprise, transmedia storytelling.

For anyone who hasn’t read Convergence Culture yet, transmedia storytelling is the crafting of a narrative that spans multiple media types. Chapter one might be told in a book, chapter two might unfold in a film, chapter three might be done as a video game, and so on. Telling a character’s adventures in multiple media is nothing new, but until recently most cross-media storytelling was done either as adaptation or as franchising, and most of these extensions weren’t considered officially in canon. Contemporary transmedia storytellers like the Wachowski Brothers or Joss Whedon are telling stories that were designed from the start as cross-media narratives, and are deliberately taking advantage of the strengths of each media type to enrich each project. The Enter the Matrix video game, for example, wasn’t created just as a cheap grab for more money but as an actual chapter in the larger narrative of The Matrix, and the second and third Matrix films only truly made sense if you’d played the video game.

That’s a complex example, but simpler ones can be just as rewarding: earlier this year Joss Whedon resuscitated his extremely popular Buffyverse with a new ‘Season Eight’ being told in comics. Whedon was excited not only to return to his characters, but to take advantage of the unlimited special effects budget afforded by comics; fans were excited because while there had been Buffy comics before, they hadn’t been written by Whedon and weren’t considered to be official canon.

Obviously, this distinction between canon and non-canon storytelling is an area rich with potential for academics interested in fan fiction and fan culture, but my thesis focused on how stories designed for transmedia expansion differ structurally from ‘stand-alone’ narratives. In my thesis I examined a number of narratives that gave rise to transmedia franchises, from the Jim Henson films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth to Star Wars, Firefly, Hellboy, Final Fantasy and so on. What I found is that most of these stories made excellent use of what the poet John Keats’ called ‘negative capability,’ which he defined as the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”. In a narrative context, ‘negative capability’ can mean the reference to characters, events, or places that exist outside of the story, and rely on the imaginations of the audience to fill in the gaps until the author can return to those ‘seeds’ for later extensions. Examples of this include the Clone Wars, the Old Republic, and the fall of the Jedi in the original Star Wars trilogy: although Lucas only made passing references to these events, they took root in the minds of fans and created a rich mythology for hundreds of comics, books, games, TV shows, toys, and so on to explore until Lucas returned to tell their story in the prequels. In a way, these types of stories are what Roland Barthes might call more ‘writerly’ texts than more purely ‘readerly’ texts, which don’t leave nearly as much room for fans to flesh out the worlds themselves.

I didn’t really get into it in my thesis, but I’m extremely curious about how fans’ expectations, contributions, and passions concerning these stories can be embraced, not ignored or, as is all too often the case, largely derided, and I’m also curious about what role, if any, gender plays in how fans engage with this type of text. Do women concentrate on the personal history of characters while men focus on the history of the world? Are men more concerned with canon and authorship, while women have a more fluid attitude towards those factors? That sort of thing.

Catherine: Hi, I’m Catherine Tosenberger. I have an MA in English (folklore) from Ohio State University, and as of this August, a PhD. in English (children’s literature and folklore) from the University of Florida; just last month, I defended my dissertation on Harry Potter fanfiction on the Internet. I had always been plagued with the desire to know more, more, more about my favorite characters and texts — it’s the reason I went to grad school in the first place — but I didn’t discover actual fanfic until 1999. I was a terribly vanilla Mulder/Scully shipper in those days, and read primarily as a respite from school. When I started my doctoral work, I initially planned to write my dissertation on fairy tales retold for young adults; I was still reading fanfiction — I’d since passed through Homicide: Life on the Street and popslash, and had alighted in Harry Potter — and mentioned this to my dissertation director, who encouraged me to write about fanfic instead.

I’m especially interested in fanfiction’s connections to broader literary discourses, both in general and in specific fandoms; for example, how does Harry Potter‘s status as a text originally published for children affect the types of fanfiction written, and the various responses to that fanfic within the fannish community? I get very excited about the fanfictional idiosyncracies of different fandoms — how fanfictional trends happen, which genres become mainstreamed or marginalized, and so forth. My current fannish obsession, Supernatural, is particularly interesting in this regard, because its two dominant genres — incest narratives and gen fic — are often minority tastes in other fandoms.

Negative Capability

The first thing I’d like to address, Geoff, is your concept of “negative capability” as applied to fanfiction. I think it’s really interesting that you picked a term with such impeccable Western Literary Canon credentials to apply to the activities of fans, because it suggests that fanfiction is not some kind of freakish, marginal activity that bears no relationship to what we think of as “real” literature. That’s something I’m very sympathetic to; while I love and appreciate that fanfic operates out of a specific community context — as I mentioned above, the micro-level development of fanfictional literature within specific fandoms is a big hobbyhorse of mine — but I think it’s very important to recognize fanfiction as something that does not exist in isolation from literature as a whole.

As Joli Jensen points out, there’s a strong tendency to posit texts which acquire fandoms as *lacking* in some way, and the activities of fans as supplements to texts that are fundamentally inadequate, which has a great deal to do not only with the hierarchizing of genre, but also acts as a commentary on the types of people — fans — perceived to engage in such activities. Jensen talks about the “aficionado”/”fan” divide, not just in terms of the texts fixated upon — “aficionados” choose texts of high cultural capital to devote their energies to, while fans scrape the bottom of the barrel — but also the manner in which each group responds to the chosen text: aficionados respect the authority of the original author, while fans get rowdy and stake their own claims on the text and characters. What Jensen doesn’t say is that there is an enormous amount of literary precedent for exactly that kind of claim-staking, for texts both high and low. And that claim-staking isn’t just limited to texts that “belong” to everyone, such as the Odyssey or Arthurian legends, but also to texts produced after modern ideas of authorial ownership come into being — for example, David Brewer talks about the roughly eighty gazillion “unauthorized sequels” produced, in the eighteenth century, to works such as Gulliver’s Travelsand The Beggar’s Opera, and explicitly links those to modern fanfiction. You can also add all those 19th-century “alternative” Alice in Wonderlands; every Sherlock Holmes pastiche ever produced; Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea; Maguire’s Wicked; Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife; Rawles’s My Jim; Randall’s The Wind Done Gone; Brooks’s Pulitzer-Prize Winning March; and on and on and on.

Anyway, I think that concept of negative capability is an interesting way into some of these issues, since it talks about “gaps” in texts not in terms of *lack* — with all the value judgments that implies — but in terms of *possibilities*. It doesn’t pathologize fans as deviants interacting in bizarre and unhealthy ways with inadequate texts, but articulates fans as belonging to a tradition of artistic innovation through explorations of pre-existing texts, both high and low. I think the insistence that fandom is an activity marked by its focus upon “inadequate” texts reifies the ghettoization of genre fiction, cuts off fanfiction from broader literary concerns, and renders fannish activities surrounding “highbrow” texts (such as Jane Austen’s works) invisible.

Gender plays a *huge* part in these hierarchies, of course; most fanfiction is written by women, and if one paints the fanfictional impulse as somehow divorced from literature as a whole, it plays into misogynistic genre hierarchies; it’s no accident that romance, which is written by and for women, is the most vilified of mainstream genres. I think fanfictional writing has enormous liberatory potential, not just for women, but also for queer folk, young people, and any anyone not plugged into the cultural elite; but I also think that exploiting the negative capability of texts needs to be understood as something that isn’t *new*, but can be harnessed in new ways.


Geoffrey: I totally agree with you, and I think that you put your finger on something problematic about gender in fandom. If we consider those eighty gazillion unauthorized sequels ‘fanfic’, then it seems that we can no longer assert that “most fanfiction is written by women”. Is that a direction that you think we want to go, as academics?

Unauthorized, Unpublishable, Unauthored?

Catherine: This is why I think it’s important to articulate fanfiction’s relationship to literature as a whole — recognizing the fact that this does have a literary pedigree, but not subsuming it under the rubric of general literature without making what is unique about fanfiction clear. I agree with Abigail Derecho’s approach: she identifies a category of literature, that she calls “archontic” (a term I find problematic for a number of reasons — I prefer “recursive,” and can elaborate on that if necessary), which consists of any literary text which makes extensive use of identifiable characters and plots from a specific pre-existing source that is meant to be recognized as such. That category includes all those literary works I listed above, and fanfiction. For me, the chief differentiation between fanfic and those texts is not what kinds of source texts they write from, but the *means of distribution*: fanfiction is any literary text which makes extensive use of identifiable characters and plots from a specific pre-existing source that is meant to be recognized as such *that circulates unofficially* — that is, outside the realm of commercial publication.

Because fanfiction circulates unofficially, it isn’t bound by the conventions and limitations of institutionalized publishing. And that’s a big deal; it allows people to stake claims over texts that they wouldn’t normally be allowed to if they wanted to publish, and frees them to tell the stories they want to tell. You can do things in fanfiction that would be difficult or impossible to do in fiction intended for commercial publication, such as experiments with form and subject matter that don’t fit with prevailing tastes. This freedom is especially felt in representations of romantic and sexual relationships — and this is a major reason, I think, why women, queer folk, and young people have found fanfic so appealing, because these are all groups whose sexual expressions have been heavily policed. It’s a way of asserting rights of interpretation over texts that may be patriarchal, heteronormative, and/or contain only adult-approved representations of children and teenagers.

Freedom from standards dictated by particular mediums, and the issue of who has access to each of those mediums, seems to me to be a huge factor in transmedia storytelling; do you see anything like this going on?

Geoffrey: To me, the primary shared issue of transmedia storytelling and fanfic is the idea of canon — and I don’t mean that in the ‘literary canon’ sense of the term, but in the ‘canonical continuity’ sense. As I mentioned earlier, what sets Whedon’s new Season Eight of Buffy comics apart from earlier Buffy comics is how events in the new S8 comics are very clearly and deliberately declared to be canonical. They are a continuation of the larger story of the Buffyverse — and if the Scoobies were to return to television or film in the future, the characters would, could and arguably should make reference to events that occurred in this new series of comics. The events depicted in the other comics, such as the Tales of the Slayer and Fray, exist in a kind of ‘alternate universe’, and may or may not have any real impact on the ‘canonical’ Buffyverse.

George Lucas handles this in an interesting way with the Star Wars universe. He establishes multiple degrees of canon — so that anything that happens in his films are de facto “hard and fast” canon. One step beyond that is a second degree of canon, which includes the animated Clone Wars miniseries and the two TV series currently in production. Beyond that is what Lucas calls the “Expanded Universe”, which has to go through the Lucas empire for authorization before it can be officially released; this includes things like the Timothy Zahn Heir to the Empire trilogy and a number of the comics currently being published by Dark Horse. The events that occur in the Expanded Universe give George the right to ‘pick and choose’ what he wants to accept into official canon by incorporating it into future films or TV shows — so it has the potential to become canon, but isn’t truly official canon… yet. Beyond that lies further degrees of expansion, which might include things like the Marvel comics that were published in the 1980s, and even further out lies the unauthorized expansions, which simply aren’t canon at all. I think this is where fanfic falls in the hierarchy. (Please keep in mind that I’m merely a fan of Star Wars and not a hardcore Star Wars geek, so folks should feel free to post in the comments here about how I’m getting the whole Expanded Universe/Star Wars Holiday Special thing wrong; I promise to take your advice to heart and improve in future articles.)

Do the fans have a right to stake a claim on the Star Wars universe? Do ‘women, queer folk and young people’ have a right to interpretation of the Star Wars universe, up to and including really kinky S&M slash fiction featuring Luke, Han, Jabba the Hutt and a crowd of cheering Jawas? Probably — but just as how these degrees of canon are set up to keep the continuity of these stories clear, degrees of authorship and authorization are also required. The unauthorized are, in effect, unauthored — which, as you noted, requires it to circulate unofficially.

Getting back to transmedia storytelling, I think it’s this issue of canon and authorship that determines whether or not something qualifies as a transmedia narrative. I can’t make a film sequel to Romeo and Juliet (“The Capulets Strike Back!”) and call Romeo and Juliet a transmedia narrative, because I’m not “authorized” to do so. A transmedia narrative isn’t a transmedia narrative unless the whole thing is authorized and canonical; that’s what makes transmedia narratives new and exciting.

The examples I give here are mostly straight white guys, but I could just as easily create a comic book to serve as a sequel to any given work by Chinua Achebe, Jamaica Kincaid, Virginia Woolf, Nora Ephron, etc., and the same reasoning would apply. The question in my mind concerns this hierarchy of canon and rights to authorship, but I’m uncertain as to whether or not gender enters into this. Some proponents of fanfic seem to declare that anyone has the right to write anything about any character invented by anyone and the results should all be considered equally viable as literature, thus obliterating the hierarchy of authorship and canon, but this seems problematic for all sorts of reasons. What do you think?

Catherine: Well, I do believe that anybody should be able to write about any character and have it considered equally viable as literature. What do you mean by “unauthored”? But I’m in full agreement with you that it needs to have the Official Creator Stamp of Approval for it to become *canon*. And this is where we get into some interesting issues, because creator-approval/authorization is what makes a specific item — a book, a comic, a film, whatever — part of the official canon, but when it comes to what, exactly, those agreed-upon-as-canonical texts/comics/games/films are actually saying, especially about nuances of character and relationships… well, that’s up in the air. As Mafalda Stasi puts it, “beyond the bare factual minimum, canon constitution and interpretation are a highly debated and controversial critical activity in the fannish milieu.” What’s canon, what’s “fanon,” what’s a “viable” interpretation? Are House and Wilson/Sam and Dean/Remus and Sirius harboring a Secret Passion for one another? And that issue of canon/fanon isn’t confined to fandom, even though the terms are fannish: Is Satan the “real” hero of Paradise Lost? What I find interesting is that, in fandom, the discourse of canon-interpretation and argumentation often includes appeals to authorial intent: the producer says House/Wilson is always a possibility! One of Supernatural‘s major writers calls the show “The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean,” which means Wincest is (possibly) totally canon! (I am RESISTING making some lame crack about being of the Wincest party without knowing it… damn.) And I think those appeals to creators’ authority aren’t because those silly fans don’t know that we’ve moved on from the intentional fallacy, but are part of that complex negotiation of claim-staking that happens when you’re writing someone else’s characters. How do you think transmedia storytelling affects those interpretations? (She says, looking at the Supernatural comics where I know that guy is Dean because Sam keeps calling him that; when did he become a blond?)

TO BE CONTINUED

Comments

  1. executrix says:

    Replying to Geoffrey: If we consider those eighty gazillion unauthorized sequels ‘fanfic’, then it seems that we can no longer assert that “most fanfiction is written by women”.

    No, most of them were written by women, back in the day when novels had about as much status as fanfic does now.

  2. I hope at some point in this dialogue they discuss the potential for the canon to adopt the fanon into it’s official mythology.

    The ease and speed at which stories can be produced and distributed allows for this process to take place.

    I produced a fanfiction ARG within the Lonelygirl15 world that I hoped would be adopted by the makers of LG15. It was somewhat of a tricky endeavor plotting the story in such a way that it could or could not officially connect.

    To me the idea that you could feasibly go from a fan of certain fiction to an official collaborator with it is exciting.

    Jeromy

  3. Geoff&Catherine, wonderful start to your debate, and I especially like the way you both managed to bring in your current research.

    There are many topics you both raise, that I think are important to discuss, but let me start with a question (or maybe nitpick? : ). I’m somewhat uncertain about your use of negative capability (but then I’m not really invested in seeing fanfiction as an extension of professional derivative fiction as much as I tend to emphasize other aspects that foreground their fundamental differences), because to me the term retains the Romantic solitary genius–even as Keats distances himself from Wordsworth’s egotistical sublime and foregrounds a certain form of self-erasure.

    In other words, beyond the dangers of reaffirming a literary canon by trying to situate fanfiction’s place therein, the term evokes the role of singular author in ways that seem to be contrary to everything fanfiction–as written within a cultural fandom context with an immense investment in intertextual referentiality–stands for.

  4. Regarding canon, I think it’s important to further distinguish between different kinds and degrees of canon.

    For example, while Lucas closely patrols Star Wars, and Paramount keeps Star Trek on a tight leash, other transmedia narratives are, well, a bit messier (and that’s a virtue) about all that. Neither the BBC, nor anyone producing Doctor Who, in its history, has ever made any “official” declaration about canon. Ever. “Canon,” such as it is, is instead fairly dynamic, shifting with changing practices and conventions (e.g., the incursion of the Virgin novel universe into the BBC universe in Paul Cornell’s The Shadows of Avalon). There’s loads of “writerly” narrative gaps all over the series. Some of them have competing yet equally official narratives (e.g., the BBC 8th Doctor novels, and the Big Finish 8th Doctor audio adventures). Others have been rendered “canonical” (again, such as it is) years after the fact (e.g., the whole concept of “Season 6b,” featuring the post-trial, pre-exile 2nd Doctor, wedged in between the closing moments of “The War Games” and the open of “Spearhead From Space.”)

    That said, even without official canon, any “crossing of the streams” between the new and classic series is dictated by the former. Big Finish, licensed producers of audio adventures featuring four of the “classic” Doctors, cannot use or refer to any character, race, or event used in the new series. Similarly, the novellas set in the new series universe, while they regularly refer to events in the TV series, cannot refer to each other (each must be stand-alone).

    Over on the fannish side, “fanon” is an even more contested terrain in every fandom I’ve encountered, where it’s the fan communities (and sub-communities therein) that debate and police narrative borders. While it’s certainly true that “anybody can write about anything,” it’s not the case that any creative work is equally embraced by every fan community. Indeed, it’s these disagreements (about what counts and doesn’t count) that creates specific fan communities in the first place.

    So, overall, I guess I’m skeptical about the idea of canon as a kind of ultimate arbiter, but intrigued about the anxieties and practices generated by the idea of canon, and how it bonds and divides creators of various camps (from fanficcers to TV writers).

  5. Scott Ellington says:

    I love the unified field construct that pervades this segment of this discussion. Speaking of negative capablilty…It’s probably just confusing to call them “fans”, but the folks who preview source material (before we do) and generate Notes that result in (carefully or brutally) negotiated modifications of the author’s original vision…are probably missing at Dark Horse. Maybe that’s why Season8#4 ends on a profoundly disturbing note that sends shivering implications in all directions, and especially toward everything that came before. I like to call it The Galadriel Moment, because it levels the playing field with a wanton display of non-gendered, personal integrity that may be impossible in either cinema or television.

  6. Very interesting article! One side note, though: Fray is actually canonical. It was written by Joss Whedon, and the “Season 8″ comics are supposedly building towards the “apocalyptic battle” mentioned in Fray.

  7. Catherine Tosenberger says:

    Kristins: thanks! I take your point about the problems with reaffirming Romantic notions of the author, especially since I’m just as suspicious of Romantic narratives about art as wholly original, etc. However, I worry about throwing the baby out with the bathwater: fanfic writers are creating art, sometimes great art, and they should get credit for that. In folklore, where individual tale-tellers engage in far more overt *repetition* of a pre-existing story than fanfic writers do, folklorists still name their sources, not simply to establish provenance, but to make sure that great storytellers — or folk singers or hex sign painters or whomever — are being given proper credit for their skill and artistry. This keeps folk material from being presented as this undifferentiated mass of *stuff*, that just, like, drops out of the sky, and is just waiting for some intrepid folklorist to come along and unravel it. Folklore comes from people, and individual tellers make their mark on the way a story is told, and it’s important to know that. I’m afraid that if we never talk about fanfiction in terms of literature, and with some engagement of those Romantic concepts of the author, then we lose sight of all that *artistry* — idiosyncratic and specific artistry, drawing from any number of traditions both within and without the fandom — brought by individual fans to their work. But then, my tastes tend towards the micro, and fanfic-as-literature offers a way of talking about that in a manner I enjoy. :)

  8. Geoffrey Long says:

    @Joel: *scribbles in notebook* FRAY-IS-CANON… Got it. Thanks! I knew that Joss wrote it, but I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be considered canon or some kind of “in one distant, possible world” kind of thing…

  9. Let’s start by noticing that the fannish sense of “canon”–that which “really happened” in some alternate universe which the source texts are taken to be describing (with varying degrees of reliableness–we always sort of edit out the boom mike which makes its way into the shot, and some people similarly fanwank the implausible attractiveness of the actors) bares little if anything in common with other uses of the term “canon,” especially those typically used in the academy.

    It has its roots in an academic use of the term canon, as applied to Doyle’s canon as one would refer to Shakespeare’s, but the sense passed onto fandom by the Sherlockians has mutated much in the intervening time.

    This notion, IMHO, only makes sense as something to be negotiated within a media property’s audience (and, indeed, only within the fannish element of that audience, those people interested in how many children had Lady Macbeth).

    This is why I find the claim that “it needs to have the Official Creator Stamp of Approval for it to become *canon*” almost incomprehensible–I know plenty of fans who are perfectly happy to construct their own canon (many Buffy fans reject the comics as canon while still enjoying them) and while Joss Whedon has said that he thinks of the comics as canon (I think the exact quote is that he “understands” them to be canon–and that he understands them that way because he is writing them), he doesn’t make the sort of over-reaching statements that you attribute to him here.

    Indeed, the impulse to impose canon on the fans based on the Fiat of the Author is viewed around my parts as gendered, hierarchalized, “fanboy” behavior.

  10. Jonathan Gray says:

    Great discussion. I’m still processing all the canon and negative capability stuff, but in the meantime, two smaller comments about the gendering of fandoms.

    First, Catherine wrote: “it’s no accident that romance, which is written by and for women, is the most vilified of mainstream genres”

    if we’re talking genres *of fanfic*, maybe so, but surely the competition of “most vilified of mainstream genres” isn’t over, and some of the competitors are heavily masculinized (violent video games, for instance, or slasher films, death metal, and gangsta rap are all often coded male, yet could win that “competition” many days of the week), and are vilified because overly aggressive and male, and increasingly are vilified for misogyny too. So I’m not so sure a hierachy of generic value can be so easily mapped onto a male-female binary.

    Second, in reply to Executrix’s comment:

    “No, most of them [the “eighty gazillion” classic lit sequel writers] were written by women, back in the day when novels had about as much status as fanfic does now”

    Where’s the proof for this? If there were indeed “eighty gazillion,” I presume many were lost to time, so how do we know the gender provenance? Peter Pan, Ballantine’s books, Swiss Family Robinson, and ultimately Lord of the Flies all riffed off each other, and were all written by guys, for example. Fanfic has long been a boy’s thing too. I have no doubt that more that got *published* was male, but where’s the evidence about how much got *written*?

  11. Catherine Tosenberger says:

    Alixtii: D’oh! I left out an “official” there — that sentence should read, “it needs to have the Official Creator Stamp of Approval for it to become *official canon*.” That’s something I stand by, because to be capital-o Official, it has to have that authorial fiat. (Blue light special in the Department of Repetitive Redundancies!) And you’re right — in my eagerness to get to the the issues of *interpretation* of agreed-upon canon, I leaped right over the formation of agreed-upon canon in ways other than authorial fiat. Because fans certainly form their own operative canons, sometimes in direct defiance of the creators.

  12. executrix says:

    replying to Jonathan Gray: as Dale Spender (Mothers of the Novel) and John Sutherland on Victorian publishing practices show, before novels were an august Art Form, most published novels were by women. And some of them, like Trollope’s Lady Carbury, kept the pot boiling by working variations on existing properties already known to be popular.

  13. I was halfway reading this entry (and wholeheartedly enjoying it), when it occurred to me that when this summer ends, we readers may not have a way of contacting the authors involved in the Gender and Fan Studies debate. Is there any way that the we the readers and the authors asked to write here could gather on a listserv of some sort? What if any listservs are there where fan studies professionals and fans are welcome?

  14. This is way beyond my field, but “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason” strikes me as not a very good description of fannishness, at least the version that tries to fill in gaps and produced the terms “fanwank” and “retcon.” What is that if not irritably reaching after fact and reason? We often say fans consider themselves better guardians of the characters and universes than the ostensible owners — better at continuity, at a minimum. Poking at the mysteries is what I see participatory fans doing. Now, we do live in uncertainties inasmuch as we’re willing to accept Five Things That Never Happened to Dean Winchester as interesting and useful explorations. Maybe I’m not getting the real connection between negative capability and fannishness.

    And, to get back to the gender bit: do we need a pedigree for our literary investigations? Isn’t one point of the gender critique to say that mutts and hybrids ought to be valued and analyzed too?