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New Releases for July 11: Fanged Fan Fiction, Bewitched

Fanged Fan Fiction: Variations on Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries by Maria Lindgren Leavenworth

Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have sparked off intense fan activity and generated a large quantity of fan fiction: stories which test the limits of an already existing fictional work and explore gaps and discrepancies within it. Working from the idea that texts constitute archives, expanded and altered by each addition, close readings of a selection of fanfics illustrate particular transformative practices in the online environment. The central figure of the vampire is read through the lens of fanfic authors’ contributions to the archives, particularly regarding how figuratively or literally refanged versions of the trope are used to subvert norms established in the source texts concerning depictions of sexuality, sexual practices, and monstrosity. Complex relationships between authorial power and subversion, between mainstream messages and individual interpretations, are examined through fanfic analyses, the findings contributing to discussions about contemporary literary creativity.

 

Bewitched Again: Supernaturally Powerful Women on Television, 1996–2011 by Julie D. O’Reilly

Starting in 1996, U.S. television saw an influx of superhuman female characters who could materialize objects like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, defeat evil like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have premonitions like Charmed’s Phoebe. The extraordinary abilities of these women showed resistance to traditional gender roles, although these characters experienced infringements on their abilities in ways superpowered men did not.

Supernaturally powerful women and girls have remained on television, including the heavenly connected Grace (of Saving Grace), telepathic Sookie (of True Blood), and magical Cassie (of The Secret Circle). These more recent characters also face numerous constraints on their powers. As a result, superpowers become a narrative technique to diminish these characters, a technique that began with television’s first superpowered woman, Samantha (of Bewitched). They all illustrate a paradox of women’s power: are these characters ever truly powerful, much less superpowerful, if they cannot use their abilities fully? The superwoman has endured as a metaphor for women trying to “have it all”; therefore, the travails of these television examples parallel those of their off-screen counterparts.