Item Details

Analysing Agency: Reader Responses to Fifty Shades of Grey

Issue: Vol 8 No. 2 (2014) Gender, language and the media

Journal: Gender and Language

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/genl.v8i2.225


This article analyses online reader responses to the erotic fiction series Fifty Shades, and queries whether fans gain agency by talking about the books. Through the use of queer critical discourse analysis, we argue that fans of Fifty Shades typically acquiesce in the normative gender roles portrayed within the books, but that this facilitates their agency as sexual beings. In particular, we show how the readers in our sample do identity work around their own experiences as heterosexual women. Rather than focusing on representations of gender and sexuality in the novels, then, we argue that representation is best analysed not from a top-down perspective, but through an investigation of how discourses within texts are negotiated and put to use by their readers.

Author: Sara Mills, Lucy Jones

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