Everybody Hurts: An Autoethnographic Exploration of Hurt/Comfort Fanfiction Public

This project is an autoethnographic analysis of hurt/comfort fanfiction. Autoethnography is a method of inquiry in which the researcher becomes the subject of research. This method is in keeping with the interdisciplinaryAmerican Studies tradition of combining methodologies. In this case, evocative autoethnography, or emotional autoethnography, is a type of project that is typically written in first person, following a single case over time, presenting the text as a story with a plot line, narrator, and characterization, and incorporating the researcher’s emotions and memories. In this project, I discuss my involvement with hurt/comfort fanfiction, a type of writing in which one character, usually male, is injured, ill, or traumatized, and another character, usually but not always male, takes care of him. I surmise that my father’s death of cancer in 1992 was the impetus for me seeking out hurt/comfort narratives in my books and movies, because I could experience the medical conditions vicariously through the characters. I also surmise that reading hurt/comfort fanfiction has several purposes: to allow the reader to identify with the sufferer, the caretaker, or both, in order to nurture the suffering character or be nurtured by the caretaker; to allow the reader to share an intimate experience with the characters, who are also engaged in physically or emotionally intimate experiences; and to meet the reader’s need for care and comfort that may have been denied her. I discuss stories I have read and stories I have written, and reflect on my emotions at the time of reading or writing.

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