cyborg sex in public, fan fiction on-line, and a fantasy of political consumption
J/7 pulp fiction cover art
J/7 Pulp Fiction Cover Art Series! No. 6, "I Prefer Girls" by Tenderware (by permission of the artist) original cover painting by Robert Maguire, 1963

Since the 1970’s, people have been writing fan fiction and organizing communities in which it could be shared. Many of these stories about characters swiped from television, movies, or other mass media revolve around queer erotic narratives. Captain Janeway and the cyborg Seven of Nine from the show Star Trek: Voyager have become a common lesbian pairing, part of the fan fiction explosion that occurred with the popularization of the internet. Well-known academic work on fan fiction in the field of audience studies (e.g. Jenkins) cannot adequately account for the vast structural changes the internet and related technologies precipitated in fan culture. I will argue that it is time to cultivate a new approach to media reception from the perspective of critical theory. My method, which in this example draws on Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” and Berlant and Warner’s “Sex in Public,” provides a framework for modeling realistically intricate and expansive connections between the site of mass culture production and the site of its consumption. I will apply this model to an exploration of Janeway/Seven fan fiction on the internet, discussing the relationship of new communication technologies to compromises of intellectual property law, to the creation of spaces that are both public and erotic, and to the (political) possibilities of non-economic models of mass media production and consumption.

"I do not believe the Collective intended for me to..."
			She searched a moment for the phrasing.
						"...make love to you."   

~ Seven of Nine in "The Dress" by Boadicea

Production is also immediately consumption... 
Consumption is also immediately production... 
Each is immediately its opposite.  But at the same time 
a mediating movement takes place between the two.

~ Karl Marx, Grundrisse (Tucker 228-9)

[07.05] Several different versions of this paper are posted here:

  • latest [10.02] [download as PDF] - This article, now entitled NEW VOY “cyborg sex” J/7 [NC-17] 1/1: New Methodologies, New Fantasies, was accepted for publication in The Slash Reader, but then that project died (I assume). The book version is available here. It's the best one so far, in my humble opinion, and balances conciseness and completeness. It also includes a brand new introduction. At some point I'd like to put this through one more revision, given that I now have some grad school under my belt, and try again to get it published.
  • short - I presented this paper at the Technotopias conference at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) in July 2002, as part of the panel "Redefining Location." Weighing in at about 12 pages, it's based on the "long" version and is a much more comprehensive condensation of my work than the excerpt that was here previously. There is no hypertext in this version, so if you want the full cyber experience, check out one of the ones below. If you want to read this version offline, you can download it as a PDF.
  • long - As this label suggests, I present here nearly all the material I produced in the first two years of this project (most changes date from Spring 2001). In later versions, I cut different pieces out to meet length requirements. I think the level of detail is quite satisfying, and you'll also enjoy hypertext -- it's a great read, if you've got the time.
  • original - This paper was submitted as a senior thesis in the English Department of Swarthmore College in December 2000 (Patricia White was my advisor). It's come a long way since then, but I leave this version up for old times' sake, and in case you're really curious about how my work has developed.
  • The bibliography, links, and acknowledgments are combined to apply to the whole project: there is just one version of each here.

    To contact the author, email me at

    thesis interactive

    Texts related to this project, and other materials here not specifically attributed, are copyright © 2000-2002 by Julie Levin Russo (, and are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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