GEM Members featured on New Book: "Representation in Steven Universe"
GEM Lab members Jake Pitre and Jacqueline Ristola have recently been published in the book Representation in Steven Universe, released by Palgrave this past January.
Pitre chapter 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.
Ristola’s chapter illustrates how queer representation Steven Universe is directly linked to the influence of anime director Kunihiko Ikuhara. The chapter begins by examining queer characters and narratives in Ikuhara’s works Sailor Moon (1992–1997) and Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997) and how they inspire similar queer representation in Steven Universe. Ristola then examines how the animation and character design in Steven Universe recalls Revolutionary Girl Utena and Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity in demonstrating gendered rituals of the body. Finally, this chapter illustrates how participation by the production staff of Steven Universe in a fandom shaped by the increasing transnational distribution of anime since the 1990s enabled the series’ transnational anime influences, with contemporary understandings of fandom shaping the series’ production as well.