Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Sheriday, Mary P.

Committee Member

Sheriday, Mary P.

Committee Member

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Ryan, Susan

Committee Member

Heinecken, Dawn

Author's Keywords

literacy; digital; methodology; fan fiction; learning; writing


This project examines the complex intersections of identity, including gender, sexuality, and social class, in the literacy practices of online fanfiction. Previous scholarship has focused solely on the gender and/or pedagogical implications of fanfiction communities, and my project engages and extends these conversations by analyzing how fanfiction practices provide a distinctive space to explore how we understand identity, digital technologies, and fannish participation. I conducted textual analysis of stories, authors' notes, "how-to" guides, and questionnaires and interviews. A close inspection of fanfiction practices provide insight into how digital technologies and literacy practices interact within exchange economies. My dissertation is divided into five chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 include a review of the literature as well as a theoretical approach to the project and its methods. Chapters 3 and 4 address the functions of online fanfiction by looking at fan websites, fan stories, and how-to fan documents, as well as questionnaires and interviews. Finally, Chapter 5 develops a theory of online fanfiction literacy practices, and the ways in which these practices are shaped by power structures, identity construction, community norms, and material circumstances. I focus, in particular, on developing a theory of emotion in terms of literacy practices—what I come to call “emotioned literacy” (borrowing from Micciche).The investigation of online fanfiction spaces is especially valuable for rhetoric and composition because it highlights how writing is a deeply embodied and emotional, life-long (learning) process. In addition, this project highlights the importance of a network of dedicated participants with knowledge(s) in different areas. Finally, this project highlights the importance of paying closer attention to the ethics of our online research methodologies.