Pass the Crisco, Spock

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Academic Commentary
Title: Pass the Crisco, Spock
Commentator: Patricia Scheiern Lewis
Date(s): 1994
Medium: academic paper
External Links: "Pass the Crisco, Spock"
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Pass the Crisco, Spock is a short paper by Patricia Scheiern Lewis that gives a very readable overview of SF fandom, media fandom, fanfic, and slash. After explaining these concepts, she goes on to summarize most of the existing academic theories about slash, including those by Constance Penley, Henry Jenkins, and Camille Bacon-Smith, and also discusses the idea of resistant reading.

The paper was written in February or March 1994 for a class in Stanford's Art History department called "Contemporary Cultural Criticism."[1]

Behind the Writing

Describing the process of writing the paper, Lewis says,
I think I came up with the title 'Pass the Crisco, Spock' because I was reveling in the transgressive possibilities of academic writing on transgressive topics, or something like that. Mainly I just thought it was funny.[1]
At the time she wrote the paper, it was more difficult to find slash than it is now: "it was almost all printed matter that was privately circulated within small networks of very secretive writers."[1] Lewis was able to get recommendations for resources from Constance Penley and an introduction to Lynn Cherny, a Stanford graduate student who the author describes as "amazingly helpful, talking with me extensively about fandom and slash, lending me the entire "Blake's 7" series on VHS, numerous writings from her collection, and several fanvids."[1]


For the rest of the decade, "Pass the Crisco, Spock" was one of the first essays slashers would point people at when they asked "but what is it?"; it also got mentioned in newspaper and magazine articles about slash. The author says,
I suspect the paper grew legs primarily on the basis of its catchy title, but from what I've read when I've seen it posted or mentioned over the years, it looks like some folks have recommended it as a useful introduction, which is very gratifying.... I think I expected it to be roundly condemned for the flippant title, but either everyone decided to be gentle with me or I've blocked out any criticism.  :) I can't remember how it got into circulation on-line, but I must have posted it to my student webpage. It was re-posted by Columbia University and got picked up and re-posted around the Web here and there. I forgot about it until the late 90s, when I became friends with a writer who divulged that she had gotten a small amount of celebrity cred from knowing me personally (!).[1]
Vehemently's Fanfic and Fandom Bibliography calls the paper "a reasonable roundup of slash history and criticism, offering little that's new, but boiling down and examining several of the authors on this bibliography."

A 1998 article notes that "the Slash culture has been a popular subject for senior theses and cultural studies doctoral dissertations with titles like 'Pass the Crisco, Spock'."[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Patricia Scheiern Lewis, talk page.
  2. Zack Stentz, Vulcan Love Slave, Metroactive, May 7, 1998. accessed 10 December 2009