Queer Transformation, Contested Authorship, and Fluid Fandom



Pitre delves into the ways that the queer science-fiction series Steven Universe and its deeply passionate fandom offer anti-normative correctives through an unprecedented convergence of queerness that has simultaneously played out within the networked communities of the social platform Tumblr. The queer potentiality and fluidity expressed in this television series has been adopted by its fans and intensified on Tumblr, where the plurality of identity is acknowledged and encouraged. This chapter argues that this is a political project, precisely because it runs counter to heteronormative expectations of identity and suggests a powerful place for queer collectivity in the lives of these young, queer fans.


  1. Ahmed, Sara. 2010. The Promise of Happiness. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. agray06. Tumblr, “To the Steven Universe Fandom”, April 5, 2015.
  3. Blumenfeld, Zach. 2017. “Comic-Con: Rebecca Sugar on Steven Universe’s Emmy Nomination and Rejecting Gendered TV for Kids.” Paste. Last modified July 25.
  4. Bradley, Bill. 2014. “‘Adventure Time’ Actress Confirms That Big Rumor We All Suspected.” The Huffington Post. Last modified August 15.
  5. boyd, danah. 2014. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Castañeda, Claudia. 2002. Figurations: Child, Bodies, Worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cavicchi, Daniel. 1998. Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chambers, Samuel A. 2009. The Queer Politics of Television. New York: I.B. Tauris.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cho, Alex. 2017. “Default Publicness: Queer Youth of Color, Social Media, and Being Outed by the Machine.” New Media & Society 20 (9): 3183–3200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. crystalgemjammin. Tumblr, “About Me.”
  11. Dennis, Jeffery P. 2003. “‘The Same Thing We Do Every Night’: Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 31 (3): 132–133.Google Scholar
  12. Doty, Alex. 2000. Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Duffy, Nick. 2016. “Cartoon Network ‘Censored’ Intimate Lesbian Dance from Steven Universe UK Broadcast.” Pink News. Last modified January 5.
  14. Dunn, Eli. 2016. “Steven Universe, Fusion Magic, and the Queer Cartoon Carnivalesque.” Gender Forum 56: 44–57.Google Scholar
  15. Gilbert, Anne. 2015. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Bronies.” Transformative Works and Cultures 20.
  16. Hendershot, Heather. 2004. “Nickelodeon’s Nautical Nonsense: The Intergenerational Appeal of SpongeBob SquarePants.” In Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel for Kids, edited by Heather Hendershot, 182–208. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hills, Matt. 2018. “Always on Fandom, Waiting and Bingeing: Psychoanalysis as an Engagement with Fan’s ‘Infra-Ordinary’ Experiences.” In The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, edited by Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott, 18–26. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Holman Jones, Stacy, and Anne Harris. 2016. “Monsters, Desire and the Creative Queer Body.” Continuum 30 (5): 518–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. jasker. Tumblr, “Hi I’m Jasker (Yah-Skur), Welcome to My Art Blog!”
  20. Jenson, Joli. 1992. “Fandom as Pathology: The Consequences of Characterization.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media, edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 9–29. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Lury, Karen. 2002. “A Time and Place for Everything: Children’s Channels.” In Small Screens: Television For Children, edited by David Buckingham, 15–37. London and New York: Leicester University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Maier, Lauren. “The Adult Appeal of ‘Steven Universe.’” Animation Studies 2.0. Last modified December 2.
  23. Mattecat. 2016. “How to Turn an Angry Space Alien into Your New Aunt With the Power of Friendship or Whatever by Steven Universe.” Archive of Our Own. Last modified November 4.
  24. McDonnell, Chris. 2017. Steven Universe: Art & Origins. New York: Abrams.Google Scholar
  25. myles.
  26. Parents Television Council. 2011. “Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter: Sex, Drugs and Profanity on Primetime Animated Programs.”
  27. Ristola, Jacqueline. 2015. “Maturing Animation on Cartoon Network.” Animation Studies 2.0. Last modified November 27.
  28. Rude, Mey. 2016. “Rebecca Sugar is Bisexual: ‘Steven Universe’ Creator Comes Out at Comic-Con.” Autostraddle. Last modified July 22.
  29. Segal, Corinne Segal. 2016, “Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network’s First Female Creator, on Writing LGBTQ Stories for Kids.” PBS NewsHour. Last modified September 4.
  30. Stein, Louisa Ellen. 2018. “Tumblr Fan Aesthetics.” In The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, edited by Melissa A. Click and Suzanne Scott, 86–97. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Steven Universe Wiki. “Censorship in Foreign Countries.”
  32. Sugar, Rebecca. 2014. “I am Rebecca Sugar, Creator of Steven Universe, and Former Adventure Time Storyboarder, AMA!” Reddit. Last modified August 21.
  33. Thurm, Eric. 2017. “‘Steven Universe’: How Rebecca Sugar Turned TV’s Most Empathetic Cartoon into an Empire.” Rolling Stone. Last modified June 7.
  34. TV By The Numbers. 2015. “‘Adventure Time’, ‘Regular Show’, ‘Uncle Grandpa’, ‘Steven Universe’ & ‘Clarence’ Renewed by Cartoon Network.” TV By The Numbers. Last modified July 7.
  35. Wee, Valerie. 2017. “Youth Audiences and the Media in the Digital Era: The Intensification of Multimedia Engagement and Interaction.” Cinema Journal 57 (1): 133–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. “What Was Missing.” 2011. Adventure Time. season 3, episode 10. Written by Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar. Cartoon Network.Google Scholar

Episodes Referenced

  1. “Fusion Cuisine” (season 1, episode 32, 2014)Google Scholar
  2. “Giant Woman” (season 1, episode 12, 2014)Google Scholar
  3. “Sadie’s Song” (season 2, episode 17, 2015)Google Scholar
  4. “We Need to Talk” (season 2, episode 9, 2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations