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Writing with the Winchesters: Metatextual Wincest and the provisional practice of happy endings

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Soon after its premiere in 2005, the American television show Supernatural spawned an online fandom dedicated to ‘slashing’ the show’s two protagonists, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester: that is, to writing stories in which the brothers are portrayed as lovers. Over time, the existence of these slash narratives – affectionately dubbed ‘Wincest’ by the show’s fans – has been incorporated into the series’ diagesis. Indeed, in the wake of the programme’s repeated forays into diegetic metatextuality, some Supernatural fan writers have re-incorporated Sam and Dean’s canonized awareness of slash fiction back into Wincest stories themselves - specifically, into the subgenre of metatextual Wincest, stories that recast Sam and Dean as conscious participants in Wincest fan culture. Using Della Pollock’s notion of performative writing as a guide, this essay will explore the distinctive types of encounters between reader, writer, and text that metatextual Wincest stories facilitate. Further, the application of this critical approach to three such narratives – nyoxcity’s ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, Road Rhythm’s ‘This is All Very Meta’, and Fanspired’s ‘Conversations with Head People’ – highlights fan writers’ perception of their own creative authority within the ongoing process of meaning-making that continues to spin around Supernatural. Ultimately, this essay will argue that what makes metatextual Wincest stories distinct is their suggestion that only by working in concert¬†with their fans can Sam and Dean finally write their own version of a happy ending, something ‘the show [itself] eternally defers’ – even if the lasting power of the ever-after they create together remains, in the end, uncertain (Tosenberger 2008, 5.12).
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Keywords: Supernatural; fan fiction; fan practice; metatextuality; pleasure; television; writing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Virginia Tech

Publication date: 01 October 2014

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  • The multi – disciplinary nature of fan studies makes the development of a community of scholars sometimes difficult to achieve. The Journal of Fandom Studies seeks to offer scholars a dedicated publication that promotes current scholarship into the fields of fan and audience studies across a variety of media. It focuses on the critical exploration, within a wide range of disciplines and fan cultures, of issues surrounding production and consumption of popular media (including film, music, television, sports and gaming), The journal aims to address key issues in fans studies itself, while also fostering new areas of enquiry that take us beyond the bounds of current scholarship.
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