Creating a Pocket Universe: "Shippers," Fan Fiction, and the X-Files Online

By Scodari, Christine; Felder, Jenna L. | Communication Studies, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Creating a Pocket Universe: "Shippers," Fan Fiction, and the X-Files Online


Scodari, Christine, Felder, Jenna L., Communication Studies


Increasingly, studies of fan culture have explored Internet activity and/or particular phenomena such as "fanfic" (fan fiction) based on the characters and premises of a given text (see, for examples, Clerc, 1996; Jenkins, 1992; Wooley, 1999). This essay supplements existing analyses by assessing the marginality and opposition of a group of fans who engage in fanfic reading and/or writing and other online interaction--the segment of X-Files enthusiasts known as "Shippers." Through bulletin board exchanges, their own websites, and original stories, Shippers hypothesize and campaign for the series to acknowledge a romance between its protagonists, FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and, hence, resist producers' commercial imperatives, a separate spheres dichotomy, devaluation of the feminine/private sphere, and masculine generic conventions. However, these activities are not sufficient to compensate for their marginalization by the given text.

Audience investigations of the U.S. Cultural Studies perspective associated with Fiske (1987) ascribe considerable agency to readers who interpret and manipulate cultural texts in ways that are pleasurable and empowering (see, for examples, Jenkins, 1992; Brown, 1994). Those focusing on fan fiction (see Penley, 1991; Jenkins, 1992; Green, Jenkins &Jenkins, 1998) laud the resistance evident in fans' re-writing of their favorite texts. However, they rarely undertake concurrent analyses of given text or production imperatives and are often challenged on this basis by political economists and others (see Budd, Entman, & Steinman, 1990; Garnham, 1995; Harms & Dickens, 1996; Cloud, 1997) concerned that unrestrained celebration of the pleasures produced through fan culture precludes or undermines effective critique of capitalist media institutions.

Examination of the interplay among producers, texts, and consumers answers the call to a "multiperspectival" approach (see Kellner, 1992) to Cultural Studies able to survey a more complete and complex dynamic in the struggle for meaning and power than is typical in research which explores audience readings, text, or production/ institutional constituents preferentially. Accordingly, following a methodological discussion, this study assesses the counter-hegemonic stance of Shippers, the debate between Shippers and other fan factions, and the marginalization of Shippers as a result of institutional structures and imperatives. Next, a textual analysis of The X-Files examining narrative structure, generic conventions, character vs. plot orientation(s), and their relation to gender demonstrates how Shippers' readings are invited, if not embraced, by the series' authors. Before concluding, the essay explores Shippers' opposition in terms of fan fiction, key series text, and meta-textual matter.

VIRTUALLY SEEKING DATA

Ethnographic participant observation in Internet communities and scrutiny of X-Files text, meta-text, and fanfic over a two year period beginning in late 1998 yielded the study's data. Remarks and opinions attributed to X-Files fans emanate from two Usenet newsgroups devoted to the series and the America Online (AOL) X-Files Forum. Newsgroups are open to all Internet users and include the unmoderated alt.tv.x-files (ATXF), characterized by brief, often deliberately provocative comments, and the moderated alt. tv.x-files.analysis (ATXA), typified by deeper, analytical deliberation. The AOL X-Files Forum is open to subscribers and features multiple boards, each designated for a fan faction or topic. Comments posted on the Shipper-friendly "Mulder and Scully" board and those provided for discussion of particular seventh season episodes and "spoilers" are highlighted. Other online bulletin boards and communities were observed for corroborative purposes.

Internet bulletin boards are characterized by transient, anonymous participation (see Lindlof, 1998, pp. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Creating a Pocket Universe: "Shippers," Fan Fiction, and the X-Files Online
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.