Amongst fans and the academics who study them, it is generally accepted (perhaps even a truth universally acknowledged) that a good portion of what we consider canonical literature – including Shakespeare – also fits the broadest definition of fanfiction, in that it is clearly written in response to or adapting a specific source text. Transformative fiction (also known as fanfiction, fanfic, or, most commonly among those who write and read it, fic) offers an alternative form of both close-reading and contextual criticism when applied to premodern writers, just as it does for contemporary media properties, and in many ways allows for the inclusion of otherwise marginalised voices. This article, therefore, combines traditional criticism with two different pieces of Shakespeare-based fanfiction in order to illustrate the potential and versatility of this type of textual engagement.
Kavita Mudan Finn is an independent scholar who previously taught medieval and early modern literature at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Simmons College, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2010, published her first book, The Last Plantagenet Consorts: Gender, Genre, and Historiography 1440–1627, in 2012, and just published an article in Shakespeare on fanfiction based on Shakespeare’s histories. She has forthcoming articles in Viator on fifteenth-century tragic women, in the Journal of Fandom Studies on the premodern roots of fanfictional paratexts, and is working on a second book on premodern women on television.
Jessica McCall is an Assistant Professor of English at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She focuses on intersections of myth and gender in warrior women from Spenser’s Radigund through DC Comic’s Wonder Woman. She is the author of several articles focusing on both Shakespeare and modern popular culture.