Call For Proposals: Disability and/in/through Fanfiction

Fanfiction has been at the centre of the development of fan studies since Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers (1992) and Nancy Baym’s work on online soap opera fan communities (1993); their texts examined fans as self-reflexive producers and critical consumers, and as participants in reciprocal and emotive community-building practices.  In recent years, fan-led projects such as those supported and initiated by the Organization for Transformative Works (Archive Of Our Own, fanlore, Open Doors, and their work on fan legal advocacy) have further encouraged the development of fan scholarship and the conservation and perpetuation of fan cultures. However, disability and accessibility have not been explored in either academic or fan scholarship as crucial aspects of fanfiction practices, and disabled fans and fanfiction writers have not been included as significant contributors to online fanfiction communities.

Yet, disability and fanfiction are in a complicated relationship with one another. Fanfiction loves its disabled characters ( Stiles from Teen Wolf, Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon, Homestuck, House, River Tam from Firefly), and loves to disable its characters (Harry Potter is iconic in this respect), to get all the feels, to explore all the possibilities, and because you hurt those you love, a lot, especially in fanfic.

Many fans and fan creators have identified online as disabled and/or people with disabilities/impairments. Fans are sharing their experiences and having discussions about disability representation in fandoms and fanfiction, about ableism and accessibility. How disability manifests in online fanfiction works and communities remains to be brought into play in critical disability studies and in fan studies.

This special issue invites works that explores disability in fanfiction, disability and fanfiction, and disability through fanfiction. How do disability and fanfiction interact with each other in fanfiction communities? How is disability represented in fanfiction and what meaning does/can/should it have? What roles do disabled fans play in how disability and disabled characters are understood in fandoms? How does white supremacy and heteropatriarchy/cissexism impact where disabled people feel included in online fanfiction communities? How do queerness, racialization, transness, gender, sexuality, class, as inseparable from our experiences of disability, inform and shape our love of fandom and fanfic? How do adaptive technologies influence the presence of which disabled fans can contribute in fanfic and in fanfic communities? What role does accessibility play in fanfiction communities, and for disabled fans?

This special issue aims to collect the work that has been done and is being done by disabled fans and aca-fans (and allies) that reflects on the multiple layers of meaning disability has in fanfiction narratives, processes, communities, and studies. We welcome the contributions of fans, aca-fans, community members (authors, betas, mods, readers, and lurkers), academics, non-academics, writers and reviewers. Contributions can take the shape of academic and non-academic, articles, commentaries, reflections, fanfiction, fanvids and other fan art and fan works that critically examines the roles, representations, deployments, reifications, subversions, challenges, queering and cripping of disability, illness, disease, (in all its multiple enactments and embodiments), cripness (criptitude?), accessibility, disablism, ableism, and fanfiction.

We welcome single and multiple authored pieces. Formats can be written, video (must be captioned), audio (must include transcript).

Possible themes:

  • Disability, gender, queerness and race: politics of intersectionality (and beyond) in fanfics
  • Disabled fanfiction writers and fans
  • Disability tropes in fanfiction
  • Writing disabled characters
  • Disability and Hurt/Comfort
  • Disability and/as kink in fanfic
  • Disability erotics in fanfic
  • Politics of accessibility in fanfic communities
  • Economies of desirability and disability
  • Fanfic and web accessibility/Adaptive Technology
  • Fan activism about accessibility/ ableism/disablism
  • Disability erasure by non-disabled fans
  • Disability fic as knowledge production/dissemination
  • Disability community making and fanfiction
  • Autism and/in fan fic
  • Madness and/in fanfiction
  • Deafness and/in fanfiction

Submissions are due 15th April 2016 and can be emailed to Cath Duchastel de M. at: and Bridget Liang at

Bridget Liang is a mixed race, queer, transfeminine, neurodiverse, disabled, fat fangirl. They are a (guilty) fan of One Direction and Teen Wolf and is definitely team Ziam and Stanny/Sterek/Skittles. Their research meanders around story telling as methodology to best convey intersectionality. They have been involved with community research, workshop and group facilitation, and doing performance art.


Cath Duchastel de M. is a white, gender-variant, queer, disabled and fat aca-fan. She is also a PhD student in Science and Technology Studies, with an M.A. in Critical Disability Studies. She studies disability and fanfiction. She fell into fanfic in the early 2000s and never got up (or wanted to). She is a Xenite with a Buffy ascendant   and a moon in Trekkie, and is also perversely attracted to het pairings such as Belle/Gold and River/Jayne.


The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is Published by the Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l’Incapacité, and is hosted and supported by the University of Waterloo.

ISSN 1929-9192 Canadian Journal of Disability Studies (Online)

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