Slashing the Final Frontier:Star Trek, Representations of Queer(ed) Media, and the Effect of Participatory Culture(s)

Girard, Danielle (2022) Slashing the Final Frontier:Star Trek, Representations of Queer(ed) Media, and the Effect of Participatory Culture(s). PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Slashing the Frontier is a cultural intervention on the depiction of queer representations in the popular television property Star Trek. This project crafts an original methodology of reading queered media (media touched by slash fanfiction). I argue that by introducing romantic orientation into the academic lexicon, the previously diverging modes of queer studies and fandom studies are allowed to overlap. In turn, this allots freedom to repurposing intentional and unintentional queer subtext into a working formula that creates a space for contemporary understandings of queerness to thrive. I ask what purpose ‘canon’ serves to the popular culture imagination and conclude that previously understood notions of a fixed ‘canon’ are inherent falsehoods. The popular culture canon, I argue, remains in a constant state of flux that relies heavily on paratextual material and the collective popular memory. With a textual focus on Star Trek: The Original Series (1964-69), the six Star Trek films released from 1979-1991, and the three Star Trek reboot films (2009, 2013, 2016), this thesis spans a 50+ year period of transformative fandom. The history of queer pairings within fandom remains murky, but it is a incontestable fact that the reception of the relationship between Kirk and Spock forever changed the makeup of fandom and fan practices. Using them as a vehicle for my argument then permits me to trace the cultural history and impact of slash fanfiction in a way distinctly separate from the socio-political readings done by scholars such as Jenkins, Bacon-Smith, and Penley. I argue that as slash gained cultural capital and elevated feminine aspects of fandom to positions of power, the methods of creating, producing, and marketing television forever changed, leaving ‘tradition’ behind in favour of a sexually and romantically diverse queer media landscape.

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Thesis (PhD)
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17 Aug 2022 08:50
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:36