Harry Potter and Fanfiction: Filling in the Gaps
Creators:Haugtvedt, Erica C.
MetadataShow full item record
Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of English Honors Theses; 2009
I examine one fanfiction story, The Way Back to Daylight by Kettle, and the way this story asks us to reinterpret the Harry Potter series using The Aeneid as an allusive intertext. Fanfiction is as any narrative that relies upon the essential elements of one author’s storyworld for the construction and intelligibility of a new storyworld. As readers, we are prompted to imagine the storyworld through cues in the text, in greater or lesser detail depending on the information provided. There are always gaps in the discourse—spaces that are not and cannot be fully determined by information in the text. These gaps offer a tantalizing opportunity for fanfiction to come in and re-negotiate the narrative, creating alternatives or extrapolations beyond the fiction as it is presented originally. By attempting to augment the narrative from which it derives through fictional gaps, skillful fanfiction asks the reader to re-read that source narrative—continuing the story beyond the last page. The interpretational issues I explore in The Way Back to Daylight are the fanfiction’s romantic reading of Remus and Sirius’ relationship, and its further re-negotiation of the laws surrounding death in the Harry Potter world using Aenus’ journey to the underworld in The Aeneid as a reference. Ultimately, The Way Back to Daylight presents a fantasy of resurrection that is impossible in Rowling’s world, allowing readers to write a happy ending for Remus and Sirius that never existed in the Harry Potter series. Even when the fanfiction’s interpretation is impossible in the original story, fanfiction is capable of changing its readers’ subsequent experiences of that original story. Studying fanfiction can help us understand the processes of intertextuality and transtextuality that underlie all fictional endeavors.
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