Having just learned, via Read React Review, that Joanna Russ has died, I thought readers might like to read, or re-read, K. A. Laity's guest post at Teach Me Tonight about Joanna Russ on slash fiction and Conseula Francis and Alison Piepmeier's interview with Joanna Russ which took place in May 2007 but was only recently published online in issue 1.2 of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. Francis and Piepmeir
became interested in Russ because of her involvement in the early days of the Kirk/Spock slash fandom.
As feminists, academics, and slash fans we went in search of what had been written about this phenomenon—women writing sexually explicit, largely homoerotic stories about characters from film, television, and literature. What had others, particularly feminists, made of this? Russ, we found, wrote the first important feminist analysis of slash fiction. Her 1985 essay, “Pornography By Women For Women, With Love” helped to set the terms of the discussion for feminist scholars who followed, and it is widely cited in fan studies. Russ argues that fantasy has to be read in more complex ways than simply seeing it as an effort at one-dimensional wish fulfillment. She posits fantasy as something rich and metaphorical. She reads slash as a genre that tells us new things about women’s sexuality and sexual desire.