Canon fodder (updated)

One of my favorite ongoing debates within slash is whether K/S is “canon” or not. There seems to be a real desire among some slashers (neatly summed up in the image above) for Kirk and Spock’s romantic relationship to be read as part of Star Trek canon: an immutable, irrefutable “fact” about the ST universe, like dilithium crystals or McCoy’s Southern accent.

Dude!–this argument goes–it’s clearly evident in the text (of canon) that Kirk and Spock totally love each other and/or totally had a complicated and acrobatic sexual relationship. On the one hand, then, K/S is already canon in these slashers’ minds; on the other, only Paramount (who still owns ST, right?) can make K/S “official” (and thus legitimate? Easier to talk about with friends and family? Facilitating slashers’ ability to come out of the textual/sexual closet, as it were? I don’t know).

This desire is complicated, I think, by the presence of Star Trek (2009), which reboots Kirk and Spock and makes an overt case for Spock’s heterosexuality (or penchant for humans, depending upon your perspective). However, the movie also recognizes the most important material object of the original Star Trek–Spock’s body–and carefully retains and protects that object and transports it safely to the new 23rd century. (I went on about Spock’s body-as-object in an earlier post here.)

[The question of K/S in the 2009 new-verse is an interesting one that I need to work with further–as a researcher. As a reader, I don’t buy 2009 K/S, but that’s a long story that has as much to do with where I went to college as my opinions on the film.]

Conversely, one of the reasons that I love slash is that it’s not canon (as I discuss here and here).  As a genre, I read K/S as a deliberate attempt to re-view and rewrite Star Trek by using the content of canon as fodder, raw materials to be reworked for the discerning slasher.  Thus, I find the desire of some slashers to canon-ize slash (an action which the slashers cannot take themselves, apparently–that would seem to be inherent in this desire…hmm) to be truly fascinating and worth exploring in more detail. More to come on this.

I’m also fascinated by the parallels that I see between this canon-or-not debate in K/S communities and the struggle within composition studies in the 1970s and 80s for “legitimacy” within academia. Geoffrey Sirc has argued that comp made a deliberate and totally boring turn in the 1970s towards disciplinarity and away from the free, semi-anarchic spirit of people like William Lutz, who made the case for restaging the composition classroom as a performance art “happening,” rather than playing by the rules of the academy. There are pros and cons here, of course, as composition studies’ ongoing evolution into the weird body that is “writing studies” demonstrates.

So I’m wondering, dear reader, how the canon-or-not debates in K/S and composition/writing studies–both bodies of work that pride themselves (or once did) on their resistance or defiance of the dominant discourse–can inform each other. My gut feeling is that these debates can usefully be read in concert, that they can inform each other in constructive and creative ways.

Hmmm. What would the composition/writing studies version of the poster above look like?


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