Decoding Desire: From Kirk and Spock to K/S

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Academic Commentary
Title: Decoding Desire: From Kirk and Spock to K/S
Commentator: Elizabeth Woledge (Social Semiotics (v.15 n.10)
Date(s): August 2005
Medium: print
Fandom: Meta, fan fiction
External Links: link to description is here
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Decoding Desire: From Kirk and Spock to K/S is an article by Elizabeth Woledge.

Woledge, a self-described acafan, discusses how K/S fans' interpretation of the homosocial text of Star Trek as homoerotic subtext is a perfectly reasonable alternate reading.

The paper discusses how male characters look at each other on screen, intimacy, and focuses on two fanfics: Lematya Lessons and Shadow Touch.


This paper uses the example of 'slash fiction' (fan fiction which appropriates media heroes to form homoerotic pairings) to offer an investigation which broadens the concept of decoding. Slash fiction provides a particularly suitable starting point for considering the decoding process, as it is one of the few cases in which we have the evidence of decoding readily available for analysis in the form of fanzines. Many academics have considered Kirk and Spock's relationship as it was represented in Star Trek and the homoerotic 'K/S' fiction which it inspired, however no one has effectively considered the interpretive processes which connect them. The author questions the implicit belief that K/S fiction is an 'oppositional' decoding of Star Trek and demonstrate its more negotiated nature through a detailed consideration of the decoding process. To this end the author borrows an idea of David Morley's who has suggested that 'Hall's original model [of decoding] tends to blur together questions of recognition, comprehension, interpretation and response' (Morley 1994, 21). This paper will take up Morley's four process model of decoding and answer Jenkins' call for a closer analysis of the links between audience reception and texts (Jenkins 1996, 275).