If you want to get a really good idea of what fandom is, it’s always best to start with fanfiction. Fictions reflect the desires, obsessions, ambitions and concerns of the many minds that make up a community of fans; it is no different for USyd. On Archive of our Own (the largest fanfiction archive on the net), there are a handful of fanfictions set at Camperdown Campus with alternate reality tales of pop culture characters. Of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, To Yuri !!! On the ice, up to the group 5 Seconds of Summer. In them, they capture the work of the imagination of the campus, and present the reader with a curious vision that does not always have meaning.
In sidere mens eadem mutato, a three-part series about Mick Rory and Leonard Snart, Heatwave and Captain Cold from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow respectively, as professors at USyd. Written and set in 2017, the trilogy sees Mick and Rory married and teaching in the university’s history department. There is little clue to the actual account of Legends of tomorrow, but the characterization shines through. In recognition of the show, Leonard’s nickname among faculty is Captain Cold, a nod to his name on the show and his icy disposition towards USyd students. They go to Clem’s Chicken, discuss “passive-aggressive conference room booking” and mention the Fisher Library and Campos Cafe. Through this lens, provairablehulk (the author) tells the story of two sarcastic and irreverent history teachers navigating college life: trying to set up the forensic department Barry Allen and sports director Oliver Queen and adopting struggling students along the way. It hits a unique intersection between CW fans and USyd students. It references campus landmarks without overdoing it and sprinkles the show’s cast throughout the story with restraint.
In Boldness is its own reward, Yuri !!! on the ice comes to USyd. The author, ineptshieldmaid, described it as “an in-depth exercise in free details about Sydney” and something that required them to “read a whole year of archived issues of Honi Either for”. Following on from the relationship between Mila Babicheva and Sara Crispino, this fic takes place in 1965 and strongly touches on feminism on campus and the mobilization against Vietnamese conscription. Exploring college life, tennis replaced ice skating for Mila and Sara and a queer love blossomed. This deals with an entirely different USyd from sidere mens eadem mutato, with the two periods of campus history feeling distinct and isolated.
dare4distance is a 5 Seconds of Summer fanfiction that sees guitarist Michael Clifford leave rhythm guitarist Luke Hemmings for the University of Sydney. Told through a blend of original poetry and prose, there are no explicit references to USyd, the uni serving more as an element of narrative context than an aesthetic or cultural setting. With Luke back in Adelaide, it’s a story of infidelity, distant love, and united heartbreak. The play ends “That night Luke curled up in his bed. Alone.”
In all, there are five fanfictions on USyd that I could find. I’ve scoured AO3, Fanfiction.net, Wattpad, and the many other niche fanfic archives that litter the web. It’s a number that seems both more and less than I expected. As they cover a gay anime, a CW spinoff show, and an Aussie boy group, what connects them is a love for iconography and campus heritage. Manning, Fisher, the Quad and King Street dominate all imaginations of these settings. There are examples of campuses depicted in fiction, with Dom Knight’s Comrades and the new one from Diana Reid Love and virtue both bringing Camperdown Campus to the page. But apart Honi’s Harry Styles’ own fanfiction, there are few examples of writers bringing the universe and characters of media properties to the setting and conventions of USyd. There is something uniquely heartwarming about seeing the characters you love in a setting you experience every day. There is nothing necessary in these stories, but like all fanfics, they serve a personal indulgence that should not benefit anyone other than the author. I’m sure the fanfics I’ve found barely scratch the surface. Outside of the published ones that I just haven’t identified, each student creates their own fanfictions on campus every day: injecting their own characters and storylines into a space and culture they hold dear. In many ways, USyd is a fandom in its own right, with its arcs, debates, and cast of well-known colorful characters. So, if you are planning to write a new fanfiction, why not set it up at your own college?