Under the Microscope   Dana Scully Uncovered:

X-Files Fan Fiction and the
Posthuman Body

Malinda Lo | Stanford University



Note to X-philes: Please read my disclaimer.

The X-Files began its television run in 1993 as a small, quirky television show featuring two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson), and their search for evidence of a government conspiracy to conceal the existence of extra-terrestrials. In a deliberate reversal of gender roles, Mulder has been constructed by the series' creator, Chris Carter, as the more emotional (feminine) believer, and Scully as the rational (masculine) scientist.

With a genealogy that can be traced through the modern phenomenon of alien abduction (Lavery et al. 1996); the peculiar American belief in government conspiracies (Graham 1996); popular depictions of the FBI (Malach 1996); the development of a genre of "cult" television (Reeves et al. 1996); and generic roots in science fiction and mystery novels and films, The X-Files has been characterized as both modernist (Wilcox and Williams 1996) and postmodernist (Kellner 1999). The X-Files has also enjoyed substantial critical and academic acclaim. As Bellon (1999) notes dryly, "In what must be conclusive evidence that The X-Files is truly a force in modern American culture, 1996 saw both the condemnation of the show by a self-styled watchdog group (Yemma) and the publication of a collection of academic works exploring the show's textuality" (137).

The X-Files developed a cult following within the first year of its debut, assisted no doubt by the increasing popularity of the Usenet newsgroups of the early Internet. The number of X-Files fans (X-philes) increased rapidly in the third season as the show became a more established mainstream television drama, eventually resulting in oversaturation of the newsgroups with newcomers who did not understand the etiquette of the older fan base. This led to the splintering of the fan base into subgroups, generally maintained through mailing lists where boundaries could be more easily policed. The X-Files is also the television show that has inspired the most amount of fan fiction--fiction written by fans featuring the characters and settings of the show--since Star Trek. Although there has been significant academic criticism on The X-Files, none of it has focused on fan fiction.

This website, which was constructed as a final project for the Stanford University course "Body Works," focuses on the ways that X-Files fan fiction contests and constructs the character/body of Dana Scully. Using Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the rhizome to construct a metaphor for fandom and fan fiction, I approach the concept of a posthuman "Dana Scully" through following several lines of flight that emerge from her character on The X-Files: disease, sexuality, and reproduction. Each of these issues is highlighted with a selection of fan fiction that is informed by that theme.

Some of these stories are not suitable for minors, and contain violence or sexually explicit language. Please do not read them if you are offended by this material.

Maps and Tracings | The fundamentals

The Posthuman Body | What is a posthuman, anyway?

Disease/Dis-Ease | Illness and anxiety

Sex, Danger, and Dana Scully | Scully goes on a date

Reproduction/Anxiety | Scully has a baby

Metanarratives and the Author | Fiction or reality?



1. I am a movie-phile who has been peripherally involved in the fan fiction community for approximately two years. My position within X-Files "fandom" is located in a 500-member mailing list focusing on fan fiction about Special Agent Dana Scully. This is a limited vantage point because only particular types of fiction are sent through this list. Fan fiction posted to this list tends to be Scully-centered MSR, so I am not as familiar with slash or non-MSR fan fiction as I could be. The moderated discussion topics on this list often focus on the writing process, and therefore my perception of fan fiction writing is skewed toward writerly concerns. In addition, the majority of the list members do not post regularly, so I am simply unaware of the opinions of these silent readers. If you are a fan fiction reader/writer, I encourage you to contact me if you have comments or concerns about the content of this website. At this time my research is ongoing and I welcome opinions from X-Files fans.

2. This website lists a selection of fan fiction stories categorized according to themes that I have chosen. This is not a recommendation site, and the stories that I chose are not meant to be representative of the fanfic that is out there. The only common denominator in choosing these stories was an effort to select stories that differed from each other.

3. Finally, this website is not about Mulder. Although I see many possibilities for exploring issues of masculinity, femininity, and fantasy through the intersection of fan fiction and Agent Mulder, at this point I am only focusing on Scully. At some point in the future (for example, if I receive a massive grant), I may decide to investigate Spooky a bit. :)

Special Agent Fox Mulder


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This website is for academic purposes only, and is not authorized by FOX, 1013, or their related companies. Images from The X-Files are used without permission.

Copyright 2001 Malinda Lo. All rights reserved.