I have two main research areas: speculative fiction and fictional futures, and digital media and fandom. I approach both with a queer cultural studies methodology and close attention to issues of gender and race. My work on speculative fiction focuses on cultural production by marginalized creators––mainly women, queers, and people of color––in Britain and the US, from the early twentieth century to the present. My work on digital media has so far focused on the new artistic forms that are emerging from fan communities, particularly digital remix video (vidding), especially as these forms engage critical readings of media texts and are used to participate in social justice activism. I am interested in both documenting and utilizing fan vidders’ creative and critical techniques.
My first book, Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility (NYU Press, 2018) explores alternative futures dreamed up by feminists, queers, and people of color in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Britain and America––from feminist utopians to video remixers––in order to inquire into historical and political narratives that the seemingly transparent terminology of the future has obscured. I argue that, as speculation becomes a crucial theoretical framework from which philosophers and cultural critics analyze the present and the future, the history of speculative cultural production that has emerged from bodies marked by race, gender, and sexual deviance must be part of the conversation.
I am currently working on two book projects, both of which build on my substantial work in fan studies to engage the creative practices, politics, and communities of media fandom as contributions to feminist and queer knowledge production. One is co-written with my frequent collaborator Kristina Busse. We are building on our four prior publications on queer fan fiction to develop a book, provisionally titled Slash Fan Fiction and the Politics of Fantasy, that will explore the erotic and romantic imaginaries of male/male fan fiction as their engagement with cultural discourses of gender, race, and sexuality has shifted over time.
My second solo book project is provisionally titled Queer Geek Politics: Digital Social Justice and Media Fandom. This project examines the role that online fan cultures played in the digital circulation of ideas about “social justice” between 2000 and 2015. The engagements with gender, race, and disability politics within communities organized around science fiction film and television fandom have been, I suggest, a crucible where digital discourses of social justice that now circulate widely on social media were formed. In the wake of the 2016 election, online communities’ roles in the rise of the so-called alt right have been the subject of much journalistic and scholarly discussion; my work aims to track a less publicized but no less important set of genealogies for left discourses of gender, sexuality, race, and disability.
Finally, I am a founding member of the Transformative Digital Humanities collective, which works to highlight the work of critical queer, feminist, and ethnic studies work in and with digital scholarly practices. I discuss the history of #transformDH in “From Transformative Works to #transformDH: Digital Humanities as (Critical) Fandom,” my contribution to the September 2018 digital humanities special issue of American Quarterly, in which I argue that we can productively consider digital humanities (and most other academic fields) as a fan community.