College of Arts and Sciences


Psychology and Philosophy

Faculty Mentor

Natalie Cisneros, PhD

Faculty Editor

Molly Clark Hillard, PhD

Student Editor

Cole Jansson


This essay examines queer fanfiction, or fiction based on previous narratives, through the lens of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s theory of “reparative readings” to argue that fanfiction is the instantiation of “loving criticism,” and of grassroots queer praxis. I explain fanfiction and its common constructs, and then explore how queer reading functions to challenge and subvert heteronormative narratives for better representation and for validation. Fanfiction provides space for healing and pleasure, and delegitimizes heteronormative ideals, giving space for queer readers to grow and learn about themselves. This essay highlights fanfiction about Steve Rogers and Bucky Barns from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a case study of fanfiction as a Kosofskian reparative reading. In this example, fanfiction works to give voice to the sublimated themes that lie beneath more overtly heteronormative messages, and brings queer identity to the forefront of these stories. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s connections to hegemonic and capitalist forces, these messages can be buried beneath commercial values: fanfiction repairs this damage, I argue. Fanfiction not only gives space for different sexual identities, but also provides representation for different physical abilities, racial identities, and gender identities. In consuming fanfiction, readers may undo the harmful ideals not only within the narrative, but within their own psyches, which empowers them for future queer activism, or praxis.