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From Alpha to Omega: the Creation and Negotiation of a Fan Genre

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While the concept of literary genres has much discussion about them, very little work has been done to address how genres emerge and grow into the cultural shorthand we know

While the concept of literary genres has much discussion about them, very little work has been done to address how genres emerge and grow into the cultural shorthand we know them by today. In this paper I seek to explore one specific genre of fanfiction, Omegaverse, what the genre looks like, what permutations it has undergone in the short time it has existed as a standalone genre, how the fan communities that write and read the genre have shaped it, and what this means for genre creation overall. Started less than a decade ago in the form it is recognized as today, the alternate universe setting focuses on a different human biological hierarchy based on adapted physiology of wolves, which recognizes people in three biologically inherent roles, alphas, betas, or omegas. It was created by the Supernatural fandom in one of their LiveJournal forums, and has since been since co-opted by many other fandoms. Being a relatively new genre, very little research has been done on it, despite having over 20 thousand fanfictions tagged as “Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics” on Archive of Our Own alone. However, there is significant overlap between this genre and the wider genres of slash and Mpreg, so I will be incorporating research and conclusions drawn from paper on those topics, such as Åström’s “Male Pregnancy in Supernatural fan fiction” (2010) and Joanna Russ’ “Pornography by Women for Women, With Love” (2014), as well as broad literary genre research and discussions, including Jason Mittell’s "A Cultural Approach to Television Genre Theory" (2001) and Dudley Andrew’s Concepts in Film Theory (1984).

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  • 2017-05