Cinema and Media Studies Buffy the Vampire Slayer
by
Rhonda V. Wilcox
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 March 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0328

Introduction

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series (1997–2003). Its first incarnation was as a movie (1992) that received mediocre reviews. The film’s writer, Joss Whedon, had the unexpected opportunity to transfer the work to television as part of the fledgling WB network. (Its last two seasons were on UPN.) The series soon garnered high critical praise and devoted viewers, though their numbers were only large in the context of a start-up network, where it was, however, allowed greater creative freedom. The show became culturally significant beyond its immediate fanbase. Buffy became famous for its gender politics: the main character reverses the usual horror trope of the young beauty killed by a monster. Buffy, whose slight stature belies her strength, derives from a long line of female Slayers, only one of whom exists in any generation. However, Buffy’s attractiveness comes in part from her flaws: she is constantly torn between her duties and her desire for a normal life. The California small-town setting suggests the darkness underlying suburbia: Sunnydale sits on a Hellmouth, where monsters converge. Each monstrous encounter is not only an adventure and a test of strength and ethics, but also symbolizes problems faced in reality, the “high school is hell” metaphor central to the show. Buffy is aided by a geeky but loyal boy, Xander; a shy computer whiz (and later witch), Willow; a book-smart mentor, Giles; a vampire seeking redemption, Angel (soon Buffy’s forbidden love); this group later expands to include others. A main theme is the idea of chosen family or working in community rather than fighting alone. Immediately admired for its witty dialogue (known as Buffyspeak or Slayer Slang), the show gradually explored more and more complex problems through building continuity of narrative, which reflects the classic hero’s journey but also involves many other storylines. Buffy is noteworthy for having the first long-running romance between two lesbian characters on network television; one of the two lovers is murdered, setting off a supernatural rampage by the survivor, Willow (and fan indignation). In the final episode Buffy shares her power around the world with Willow’s help. Buffy has a television spin-off, Angel (1999–2004) and continues in comic book form with Season Eight and more; some do not consider the comics canonical. Buffy spawned numerous online discussion forums. With its aesthetic and cultural value, Buffy has accrued more scholarly writing than any other television series.

General Overviews and Interviews

Buffy scholarship is deep and wide. Three strong collections that fit into the standard academic category are Wilcox and Lavery 2002, the first American collection, on a wide variety of topics; Edwards, et al. 2009, which presents essays on the last two seasons that nonetheless maintain the context of the series as a whole; and Wilcox, et al. 2014, a collection that includes the work of many established Buffy scholars and also covers Angel as well as other productions by Buffy’s primary creator. Each of these is not only of high quality but also written in accessible style. Less uniformly academic but also replete with good scholarship is Kaveney 2004, which importantly includes very informative interviews with two important Buffy writers; Money 2012 includes many strong essays but is a bit more uneven, and was meant for a broader audience. It nonetheless includes the work of well-known scholars in the field and some very good work by writers less well-known, along with some interesting interviews with actors and writers. The collection Yeffeth 2003 makes no pretense to scholarship but is nonetheless full of genuinely perceptive writing in engaging style, with ideas that scholars should want to learn. Wilcox 2005, Pateman 2006, and Lavery 2015 are three significant monographs. Wilcox 2005 makes a case for Buffy as art by not only examining larger themes but also devoting full chapters to individual episodes, considering their language, narrative, visuals, sound, and cultural context. Pateman 2006, a work more engaged with critical theory, nevertheless devotes four chapters to detailed analyses of one episode; and Lavery 2015, written by a longtime proponent of the concept of the television auteur, has found in Joss Whedon a highly significant subject. Lavery’s work with Cynthia Burkhead, Lavery and Burkhead 2011, is also in service of the idea of the auteur, since it collects noteworthy interviews by Whedon. While many Buffy scholars note the collaborative nature of good television (see, e.g., Halfyard 2001 under Music and Sound, the introduction of Wilcox 2005, Kociemba 2009 under Narrative), Whedon is unquestionably an important part of, indeed the initiator of, the collaboration. (See the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies article Joss Whedon.) There are many more general studies than can be listed within the limits of this section; some are indirectly referenced in other sections.

  • Edwards, Lynne Y., Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James B. South, eds. Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While the essays focus on the last two seasons, they do so with a clear grounding in the context of the series as a whole. The editors provide essays that are carefully researched as well as textually accurate. The essays cover important topics such as Buffy writers other than Whedon, language, bodies, family, the debate over presentation of lesbians, and more.

    Find this resource:

  • Kaveney, Roz, ed. Reading the Vampire Slayer: The New Updated Unofficial Guide to Buffy and Angel. London: I. B. Tauris, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This second edition contains invaluable interviews with Whedon co-writers Jane Espenson and Stephen S. DeKnight but omits interesting essays on humor and martial arts films, fan fiction and more included in the 2001 edition. Kaveney’s lengthy introduction is illuminating on both narrative organization and themes. Though not strictly academic, the essays are thoughtful and still useful.

    Find this resource:

  • Lavery, David. Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers. London: I. B. Tauris, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lavery, a highly regarded television scholar who always claimed interest in the subject of creativity over television per se, analyzes the primary creator of Buffy through the work of Howard Gruber, who connected creativity not with epiphanic moments but with lifelong practice. This is not a traditional biography, but Lavery locates the creation of Buffy within Whedon’s life and intellectual history as well as within the press of market forces.

    Find this resource:

  • Lavery, David, and Cynthia Burkhead, eds. Joss Whedon: Conversations. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These interviews with Whedon provide suggestive commentary on Buffy not only from its creator but also from the interviewers. Whedon has given an unusually large number of interviews, and the knowledgeable editors have carefully chosen especially fruitful ones for this collection.

    Find this resource:

  • Money, Mary Alice, ed. Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion: The TV Series, the Movies, the Comic Books and More. London: Titan, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains sixteen essays of varying quality on Buffy, covering topics such as language, religion, gender, and psychology. With a useful introduction by Robert Moore, the book is based on the set of essays Moore edited for Popmatters that formed the center of this Titan collection. The 2015 edition contains no new essays on Buffy. Designed for a more general audience, most of the essays are nonetheless worthwhile as careful analysis.

    Find this resource:

  • Pateman, Matthew. The Aesthetics of Culture in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Thoroughly grapples with the form of the series, exploring the dream episode “Restless” in four separate chapters, one for each dream. Particularly notable for its concept of involution (see chapter 5), the interweaving of intratextual references back and forth in the long television text as a method of illuminating meaning.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilcox, Rhonda V. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.

    DOI: 10.5040/9780755604296Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Perhaps the most frequently referenced scholarly work on Buffy, the book presents an introduction on the aesthetic place of television and twelve chapters: six on general themes (such as light imagery, naming symbolism) and six explicating episodes: “Surprise”/“Innocence,” “The Zeppo,” “Hush,” “Restless,” “The Body” and “Once More, with Feeling.” Analyzing narrative, symbolism, visuals, sound, character, language, gender and more, Wilcox argues that Buffy makes the case for television as art.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilcox, Rhonda V., Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson, and David Lavery, eds. Reading Joss Whedon. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Representing the work of many of the best Buffy scholars, this collection contains twenty-eight essays including seven directly on Buffy and five partly on Buffy among “Overarching Topics” such as character and time, memory and identity, technology and magic, body and soul, and contested feminism. The Buffy essays include subjects such as the significance of the first season, the Orpheus myth, animality and humanity, “Conversations with Dead People,” and more.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilcox, Rhonda V., and David Lavery, eds. Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains an introduction on Buffy as quality television, a foreword by Camille Bacon-Smith, an afterword by Lavery on the techniques behind “Restless,” and twenty essays, most of which are still cited by scholars. With broad subject coverage, such as the female hero and community, Buffy’s third-wave feminism, family relationships, speech and character, anger and gender, literary antecedents, race and ethnicity, music, fan studies, religion, and more.

    Find this resource:

  • Yeffeth, Glenn, ed. Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show. Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As the title indicates, the writers are successful, sometimes famous creators of their own fictions. Among the writers is Nancy Holder, author of many Buffy novels and a series of exemplary guides to Buffy. The essays, while not academic, are often extremely perceptive and serve well to enlighten academic research.

    Find this resource:

Bibliographies and Literature Surveys

There is no question that bibliographies are the backbone of scholarship, and among Buffy scholars there are dedicated and skilled bibliographers who have aided immeasurably in the advancement of work on the subject. Hornick 2019 is frequently updated and admirably complete in its listings of academic work. Macnaughtan 2011, on the other hand, has not only useful information about licensed sources (such as tie-in novels that are the subject of some scholars’ work), but also highly useful annotations that can be particularly helpful to a scholar starting out. Hornick 2019 is a very good source to guide scholarly work in the specific genre of horror. Hornick 2012 provides an overview of scholarship in essay form that is easy to read; Cochran 2014 provides information on the many conferences on Buffy as well as a broad look at the history of the scholars who study Buffy.

  • Cochran, Tanya R. “Whedon Studies: A Living History, 1999–2013.” In Reading Joss Whedon. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson, and David Lavery, 371–392. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Unlike most bibliographies, this essay includes the history of conferences on Buffy; it is also in effect an audience study of the academics who study Buffy as well as a review of the literature.

    Find this resource:

  • Hornick, Alysa. “Mapping the Whedonverses: Whedon Studies 1999 and Beyond.” In Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion: The TV Series, the Movies, the Comic Books and More. Edited by Mary Alice Money, 457–464. London: Titan, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes a highly informed survey of some of the most important works on Buffy; because of the great extent of the scholarly listings, Hornick acknowledges offering some personal favorites, such as the double issue of Slayage 3, nos. 3–4. This selective but carefully arranged essay is a very good place for a neophyte researcher to get advice.

    Find this resource:

  • Hornick, Alysa. Whedonology: An Academic Whedon Studies Bibliography.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First published in 2002 by Derik A. Badman, the work was taken over by Alysa Hornick in 2005. Hornick still updates these online listings of academic work. This very complete bibliography is one of the major reasons that the field of Buffy studies has flourished. Some authors publish on Buffy having only researched in their own disciplines, but this reference tool is absolutely essential to good scholarship.

    Find this resource:

  • Hornick, Alysa. “The Work of Joss Whedon and the Horror Tradition: A Selected Bibliography.” In Joss Whedon vs. the Horror Tradition: The Production of Genre in Buffy and Beyond. Edited by Kristopher Karl Woofter and Lorna Jowett, 298–307. London: I. B. Tauris, 2019.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hornick’s expertise guarantees a good selection of work specifically on Buffy and horror.

    Find this resource:

  • Macnaughtan, Don. The Buffyverse Catalog: A Complete Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel in Print, Film, Television, Comics, Games and Other Media, 1992–2010. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Macnaughtan has now published a catalog of the Whedonverse that incorporates material from this 2011 annotated bibliography of over five thousand sources, both primary and secondary, but the newer bibliography lacks the annotations. The 2011 annotations are clear and informative; the citations are accurate and thorough. An extremely helpful tool for research.

    Find this resource:

Journals

There are two peer-reviewed journals directly related to the study of Buffy. Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies (cited under Family) first appeared in 2001 and as of this writing is heading into its twentieth year, with a different subtitle, but still publishing many articles on Buffy edited by scholars who are serious about the quality of the work. It has contributed hundreds of publications to the field of Buffy studies. Watcher Junior is also peer-reviewed but devoted to publishing undergraduate work, and thus in part a venue for the development of scholarship. Its articles are therefore of varying quality, but often quite useful; its intermittent publishing schedule is in part caused by a determination to publish only good work.

Websites

There have been innumerable websites on Buffy, but many now are inactive or riddled with missing links. Stafford 2011 is an excellent source for informal but insightful essays on individual episodes. TV Tropes, having begun with Buffy, has become a thriving all-purpose popular culture site that still has a great deal of material on the series. Whedonesque, the most active posting site, shut down immediately after revelations about Whedon’s personal life but is still maintained as an archive. The most important site for academic research on Buffy is the Whedon Studies Association site, still highly active.

Family

The idea of chosen family, or more largely of community, has always been one of the most important themes in Buffy and one that many writings touch on. An early and still frequently referenced work is Bowers 2001, which focuses on responsibility, another important theme in Buffy, and generational issues. Williams 2002 covers the topic from a different angle, noting the problematic presentation of mature women in general and mother-figures in particular. Burr and Jarvis 2007 focuses on sociological implications for variety in family formations, and Rambo 2018 also brings to bear a sociological focus on a very particular subgroup with relevance for the liminal characters of the series. Locklin 2002 makes a surprising connection between Buffy’s representation of the chosen family and contemporary Catholic teachings. Curry and Velazquez 2009, on the other hand, questions the success of the Buffy model of the family. The foundational text for the subject is Battis 2005, with a book-length treatment that is personal in style yet highly analytic in terms of its discussion of patterns. Among other points, Battis notes the connection between the idea of chosen family and those in the gay community who have been disowned by blood relatives, thus connecting the theme of family to another of Buffy’s major subjects, the treatment of those in the LGBTQ community.

  • Battis, Jes. Blood Relations: Chosen Families in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Covering a highly important theme in Buffy, Battis discusses the importance of chosen families in terms of each of the central characters. Though the chosen families are imperfect, they often replace seriously flawed blood relations. Discusses the show as both subversive and restraining subversion.

    Find this resource:

  • Bowers, Cynthia. “Generation Lapse: The Problematic Parenting of Joyce Summers and Rupert Giles.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 1.2 (2001).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a frequently cited essay, Bowers connects Boomer self-gratification with Buffy’s mother Joyce and her father-figure Watcher Giles specifically through drugs, symbolic or literal, in “The Dark Age,” “Ted,” and “Band Candy,” pointing out that these parental lapses can be more damaging than the monsters Buffy fights.

    Find this resource:

  • Burr, Vivien, and Christine Jarvis. “Imagining the Family: Representations of Alternative Lifestyles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Qualitative Social Work 6.3 (2007): 263–280.

    DOI: 10.1177/1473325007080401Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Covers the benefits and disadvantages of non-normative family structures, in particular chosen families, presented in Buffy as less hierarchical. Presentations such as those in this televised storyworld spread familiarity with new social structures.

    Find this resource:

  • Curry, Agnes B., and Josef Velazquez. “‘Just a Family Legend’: The Hidden Logic of Buffy’s Chosen Family.” In Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. Edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James B. South, 143–166. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the show’s concept of chosen family is not fully successful either within the storyworld or in applicability to the real world, particularly in its failure to consider complications of racial/ethnic privilege regarding chosen versus blood families.

    Find this resource:

  • Locklin, Reid B. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Domestic Church: Re-Visioning Family and the Common Good.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 2.2 (2002).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends that the traditional perception of an opposition between interests of the family and community is mistaken, and that Buffy’s representation of chosen family in some ways parallels contemporary Catholic teaching in this regard. In particular, the case of Buffy’s interpolated sister Dawn shows the need for both duty to family members and duty to the broader world. Despite differences and imperfections, the Buffy family model is worth noting.

    Find this resource:

  • Rambo, Elizabeth L. “Third-Culture Kid Identity Paradigms in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode “Lies My Parents Told Me.” Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 16.1 (2018).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explains the concept of Third-Culture Kids, those such as missionaries’ children and military children, who grow up exposed to two cultures and thereby inhabit an intersection, a third culture. Applies the concept to illuminate the characters of Robin Wood (son of a Slayer), Giles, Dawn, and in some ways Buffy.

    Find this resource:

  • Williams, J. P. “Choosing Your Own Mother: Mother-Daughter Conflicts in Buffy.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 61–72. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Astutely analyzes the relationships between Willow and computer teacher/techno-pagan Jenny Calendar versus Sheila Rosenberg; Gwendolyn Post and Faith; Amy and Catherine Madison; and Buffy and Joyce versus Maggie Walsh. In addition to the difficulty of finding a good mother figure, Williams points out the dearth of older women who can serve as role models in the series.

    Find this resource:

Fan Studies and Audience Studies

As a series with many devoted fans and a varied audience, Buffy has given rise to many studies on the subject. Zweerink and Gatson 2002 and Stengel 2001 both examine the fans that coalesced around the official fan site, the Bronze; the former study is a highly sociological examination in terms of typical social group behavior, while the latter compares the nature of two fan groups, the second a non-official group many of whom were invested in fan fiction. Relatedly, the importance of individual freedom of interpretation by fans is part of the discussion of Symonds 2003, while Bloustien 2005 discusses fans’ use of the series to aid with identity issues. Two essays deal with academics in different ways: Winslade 2010 covers the perils of teaching a subject of which one is a fan—specifically, Buffy; Lavery 2004 makes a case that fandom need not disqualify scholarship. Probably the premiere scholar of fandom working in Buffy studies, certainly the most prolific, is Tanya Cochran; Cochran 2012 and Cochran 2014 both deal with fan activism and its moral significance. Kirby-Diaz 2009 and Stuller 2013 are both book-length studies; the former offers a selection of academic essays, while the latter includes less formal essays on a wide variety of fan-related subjects and interviews as well.

  • Bloustien, Geraldine. “Fans with a Lot at Stake: Serious Play and Mimetic Excess in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Special Issue: The Vampire Spike in Text and Fandom: Unsettling Oppositions in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Dee Amy-Chinn and Milly Williamson. European Journal of Cultural Studies 8.4 (2005): 427–449.

    DOI: 10.1177/1364942002005004295Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Conducting a survey of female fans in Australia, including online, Bloustien explores the use of the series to deal with identity issues.

    Find this resource:

  • Cochran, Tanya R. “‘Past the brink of tacit support’: Fan Activism and the Whedonverses.” In Special Issue: Transformative Works and Fan Activism. Edited by Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova. Transformative Works and Cultures 10 (2012).

    DOI: 10.3983/twc.2012.0331Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Pointing out that fan activism used to be connected to saving a television series, Cochran describes a shift to sociopolitical activity. In a journal issue covering activism by fans of Harry Potter, The X-Files, Star Wars, Wonder Woman, and The Colbert Report, Cochran assesses fans of Buffy and related series as having a feminist political consciousness moving beyond storyline and into real-world action such as with the organization Equality Now.

    Find this resource:

  • Cochran, Tanya R. “‘By beholding, we become changed’: Narrative Transubstantiation and the Whedonverses.” In Special Issue: Joss in June: Selected Essays. Edited by K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey. Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 11–12. 2, 1 (2014).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Surveys various metaphors that have been used to comprehend narrative’s effects on fans (pilgrimage, simulation, transportation) and suggests that transubstantiation works as a metaphor of fans’ living in the world the stories they intently behold. Gives illustrations such as a fan’s testimony about the Buffy idea of not fighting alone, and more than one reference to elements of “Chosen.”

    Find this resource:

  • Kirby-Diaz, Mary, ed. Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes ten essays on fan communities and fan identities, with two chapters devoted to the Bronze online community (Bronzers) named after the teen club in the series.

    Find this resource:

  • Lavery, David. “‘I Wrote My Thesis on You’: Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 4.1–2 (2004).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Arguing by epigraph, Lavery quotes Stanley Cavell on Heidegger and Wittgenstein as having academic cults and argues that the so-called cult of scholars who love a truly good series can write about it with greater understanding. Lavery notes that the character who stated the title line about a thesis did so in the month that Slayage was launched, and lists fifty academic disciplines studying Buffy, predicting Buffy scholarship will continue.

    Find this resource:

  • Stengel, Wendy A. F. G. “Synergy and Smut: The Brand in Official and Unofficial Buffy the Vampire Slayer Communities of Interest.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 1.4 (2001).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explaining different methods of online interaction (such as linear and thread), Stengel discusses both officially sanctioned and unofficially active fan communities and the support of slash fan fiction.

    Find this resource:

  • Stuller, Jennifer K., ed. Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Combines essays on fan crafts, fans’ use of Buffyspeak, fan fiction, fan activism, and more, with interviews with the founder of the “Once More, with Feeling” touring event, the organizer of the Great Buffy Rewatch of 2011, the managing editor of Dark Horse comics, and the editor of the journal Slayage. Highly accessible but including the work of serious scholars.

    Find this resource:

  • Symonds, Gwyn. “‘Bollocks!’: Spike Fans and Reception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Special Issue: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Angela Ndalianis and Felicity Colman. Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media 2 (2003).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Covers the views of fans of the vampire Spike (and in particular, Spike-shippers, those invested in the relationship between Spike and Buffy: Spuffy) and their willingness to disagree with received interpretations of the text. Referencing Whedon’s comments about each person bringing a subtext, notes that this is a particularly clear case to illustrate that the television text is not simply received by viewers, but exists in negotiation.

    Find this resource:

  • Winslade, Jason. “‘Have you tried not being a Slayer?’: Performing Buffy Fandom in the Classroom.” In Buffy in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching with the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Jodie A. Kreider and Meghan K. Winchell, 22–34. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    From the perspective of performance studies, Winslade explores the teacher, the students, and the scholars used for a Buffy course taught five times at point of writing. Observing that the need to justify teaching Buffy has lessened over time, Winslade notes that both fans and non-fans must be encouraged to respond analytically, but that some reach the ability to integrate ideas across disciplines and negotiate the process-making of identity.

    Find this resource:

  • Zweerink, Amanda, and Sarah N. Gatson. “www. buffy.com: Cliques, Boundaries, and Hierarchies in an Internet Community.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 239–249. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Noting standard sociological patterns, Zweerink and Gatson describe the development of hierarchies and divisions among members of the Bronze, the officially sanctioned online-based fan community named after the teen night club in Buffy. The community thus reflected sociological norms. The authors also note that Bronzers sometimes seem to have come to identify more with the group than with the series that inspired its creation, perhaps a less predictable sociological outcome.

    Find this resource:

Gender Studies and Feminism

There is far more scholarship on feminism and gender studies than listed here; in fact, questions of gender form part of the majority of scholarly works in one way or another. Coming from very different angles, Playdon 2004 and Ross 2004 emphatically declare the series’ feminism. Craigo-Snell 2006 and Symonds 2008 argue for the overall feminism of the series, both commending the complexity of the presentation; the essays collected in Early and Kennedy 2003 also address perceived problems in the series’ feminism and then assess it positively. Spicer 2004 and St. Louis and Riggs 2010 criticize the failings while nonetheless granting some feminist qualities, and Schultz 2014 surveys the debate. The most noteworthy work on gender is Jowett 2005, which analyzes with intellectual rigor and specific textual support; Pender 2016 is also an important work, which provides more recent references to gender studies work in general as well as Buffy studies.

  • Craigo-Snell, Shannon. “What Would Buffy Do?: Feminist Ethics and Epistemic Violence.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 48 (2006).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that violence in Buffy is justifiable and appealing in that the violence is symbolic and responds to epistemic violence, which attacks one’s worldview and thus survival; the argument also rests on real-world threats to women. Written in accessible style but drawing fluently on academic sources for support.

    Find this resource:

  • Early, Frances, and Kathleen Kennedy, eds. Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Women Warriors. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains four nuanced early academic essays on the series’ feminism, addressing the historical concept of the just female warrior, the transgressive role of the character Faith, male fans of a female hero, and the possibility that Buffy’s inner “other” makes her an acceptable feminist model for people of color.

    Find this resource:

  • Jowett, Lorna. Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Still the most important work on gender in Buffy. The book covers representations of “good girls,” “bad girls,” “tough guys,” “new men,” and “dead boys”—straightforward terms to introduce complicated questions, with specific textual analysis informed by theory and located both socially and generically.

    Find this resource:

  • Pender, Patricia. I’m Buffy and You’re History: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Contemporary Feminism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2016.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Addressing debate on the matter, Pender argues that Buffy is a feminist text, but third-wave rather than second-wave. The work thus also intersects with studies of race and ethnicity, as well as class, LGBTQ, and male gender issues. The book draws on multitudinous scholarly sources, both from Buffy studies and gender studies. While using some of Pender’s earlier work, this is the most significant recent work on gender in Buffy.

    Find this resource:

  • Playdon, Zoe-Jane. “‘What you are, what’s to come’: Feminisms, Citizenship and the Divine in Buffy.” In Reading the Vampire Slayer: The New, Updated Unofficial Guide to Buffy and Angel. Edited by Roz Kaveney, 156–194. London: I. B. Tauris, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Buffy is feminist in a variety of ways: in valuing education over training (the latter being subjugation; the former, empowerment); in valuing spiritually immanent redemption and self-knowledge (paralleling Gnostic and goddess theologies) over transcendence; and in valuing participatory citizenship (à la Virginia Woolf’s Outsiders’ Society) over serving as subjects.

    Find this resource:

  • Ross, Sharon. “‘Tough Enough’: Female Friendship and Heroism in Xena and Buffy.” In Action Chicks: New Image of Tough Women in Popular Culture. Edited by Sherrie A. Inness, 231–255. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781403981240_10Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Asserts that the two series Xena and Buffy are unusual because they show that the hero does not have to fight alone and is more resistant to patriarchy with a female friend; and that, furthermore, the friend becomes heroic too, showing a spreading of strength to other women that grows from negotiated knowledge and communication.

    Find this resource:

  • Schultz, Lauren. “‘Hot Chicks with Superpowers’: The Contested Feminism of Joss Whedon.” In Reading Joss Whedon. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson, and David Lavery, 356–370. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Schulz surveys the debate over feminism in Buffy and related works. Then, tracing a pattern of characters’ awakening and placing Buffy in the larger context of the narratives of the Whedonverses, she assesses it as feminist overall.

    Find this resource:

  • Spicer, Arwen. “‘It’s Bloody Brilliant!’: The Undermining of Metanarrative Feminism in the Season Seven Arc Narrative of Buffy.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 4.3 (2004).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that while the message of communal female empowerment in the series’ ending is clearly received, it is nonetheless undermined by the failure to represent multiple voices in decision-making and the presentation of Buffy as a univocal authority figure. Carefully examines many of the issues of Season Seven.

    Find this resource:

  • St. Louis, Renee, and Miriam Riggs. “‘And Yet’: The Limits of Buffy’s Feminism.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.1 (2010).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends that while Buffy is in many ways feminist, it has significant ambivalences and gaps, notably in the presentation of fully adult women, female bodies, and intergenerational cooperation among women. Discusses, among others, the problematic professorial characters of Maggie Walsh, Sheila Rosenberg, and Professor Gerhardt in “Pangs,” as well as the deaths of Joyce Summers, Jenny Calendar, and Tara. Engages with much scholarship.

    Find this resource:

  • Symonds, Gwyn. “‘Solving problems with sharp objects’: Female Empowerment, Sex and Violence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In The Aesthetics of Violence in Contemporary Media. By Gwyn Symonds, 126–149. New York: Continuum, 2008.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781628928341Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Buffy’s feminism resists didacticism, inviting us to contemplate gender ideology in a dramatically complex context. Particularly regarding sex and violence, the show moves beyond polarities. Symonds’s illustrations include in-depth analysis of scenes leading up to sex in “Smashed” and the attempted rape scene in “Seeing Red,” discussing camera work, music, dialogue, and narrative context as well as larger cultural contexts. Published in earlier form in Slayage 3, no. 3–4.

    Find this resource:

Gender Studies and Masculinity

It is important to note that Buffy gender studies includes masculinity; see also Jowett 2005 under Gender Studies and Feminism for another important study of masculinity. Simkin 2004 is one of two articles by the same author on Buffy and anxious masculinity. Rogers and Scheidel 2004 looks at variations in the well-worn connection between cars and the establishment of masculine identity. Camron 2007 assesses the gender hybridity of a central male character, Xander, and the overall impact for the series. Amy-Chinn and Williamson 2005 is in effect a collection of admirable essays on masculinity through the lens of study of the vampire Spike, one of the most noteworthy characters of the series.

Genre

Buffy is well-known for its genre hybridity, and many scholars have investigated the ways genre works in the series. Abbott 2001 and Williamson 2005 place the series in the history of various forms of vampire fiction, and Mukherjea 2008 carefully examines the related but separate genre of Southern Gothic. Albright 2005 discusses the conventions of the musical (and its unreality) as they apply to Season Six’s “Once More, with Feeling.” Fletcher 2011 confronts the broad categories of realism versus fantasy through a discussion of the important episode “The Body.” Another broad category study is Clemons 2009, on the shift of the story from television to comics. Woofter and Jowett 2019 is a highly valuable collection on one of Buffy’s major genres, horror; Barbaccia 2001 discusses the slasher subgenre of horror. Garcia 2014 covers the interweaving of multiple genres. There are many other scholarly works on genre; see, for example, on soap opera, Da Ros 2004 under Narrative.

Humor

Buffy is widely appreciated for its humor, yet there are surprisingly few studies devoted to humor as a central subject (though many touch on it incidentally). Those that exist are all rather or quite early. Abbott 2005 and Boyette 2001 both focus on specific characters—Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and Spike, respectively—both very effectively but from different angles. Kociemba 2007 discusses the relative lack of humor in a single episode, “The Wish,” and the ways it highlights the series’ normal humor. Wilson 2001 catalogues almost all, if not all, the types of humor used in the series—a very helpful work. See also chapter 8 on “Laughter” in Wilcox 2005 under General Overviews and Interviews; the chapter begins with an overview of general humor theory scholarship and focuses on “The Zeppo.” More scholarship in this category would be welcome, though the existing scholarship is good.

  • Abbott, Stacey. “‘Nobody scream . . . or touch my arms’: The Comic Stylings of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.” In Reading Angel: The TV Spin-Off with a Soul. Edited by Stacey Abbott, 189–202. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While the majority of this essay is on Angel, a significant portion is a perceptive analysis of the humor of the character of Wesley on Buffy. Covers parody, comic foils, and slapstick as well as the relationship between humor and masculinity; analyzes the change in the character as represented on the two series.

    Find this resource:

  • Boyette, Michele. “The Comic Anti-Hero in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Silly Villain: Spike Is for Kicks.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 1.4 (2001).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Spike is the rare villain who becomes a hero and that humor is an important part of the transition. Referencing Wylie Sypher’s theories, Boyette notes that Spike fits the comic hero role of intruder/outsider and eventually also savior. Spike is early an ironist, later also a buffoon (e.g., when he sits, tied, amid a rain of arrows in “Pangs”); humor paves the way for sympathy.

    Find this resource:

  • Kociemba, David. “‘Where’s the fun?’: The Comic Apocalypse in ‘The Wish’.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 6.3 (2007).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the loss of humor in many forms in the episode “The Wish” in the context of various theories of humor, arguing that the contrast of the episode’s alternative timeline (or universe) clarifies the values of the Buffyverse.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilson, Steve. “Laugh, Spawn of Hell, Laugh.” In Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. Edited by Roz Kaveney, 78–97. London: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Surveys Buffy’s great variety of humor, including sarcasm, slapstick, bad puns, epigrammatic wit, vaudevillian jokes, screwball comedy, irony, self-parody, visual ridicule of social manners (Spike and Joyce silent in the parlor) and more, with apt illustrations. Includes discussion of Buffyspeak. Argues that Buffy reaches deeper feeling because it does not fear laughter. Not included in the 2004 edition.

    Find this resource:

Language

Language was immediately recognized as an important element of Buffy; perhaps no show has been more noteworthy for its language, though some others have been comparable (for instance, Deadwood). It is not surprising, then, that there is significant scholarship of high quality on various aspects of language and Buffy. Bianchi 2008 and Bosseaux 2013 address issues of translation, providing testament to the international appeal of the series as they discuss its treatment in Italy and France. Michael Adams was the earliest to publish on language (and, indeed, one of the earliest to publish on the series); Adams 2003 and Adams 2009 treat the impact of language on the overall aesthetic and meaning of the show, supported by specific lexical analysis. Mandala 2007, Drewniok 2013, and perhaps most notably, Overbey and Preston-Matto 2002 deal with the relationship between language and the revelation of character, of psychology. Masson 2008, Masson 2011, and Willis 2017 take issues of rhetoric as their subject of language analysis. All these works provide illumination, from the micro to the macro level.

  • Adams, Michael. Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A detailed linguistic analysis presented half in essay form, half as a precise glossary. Tracing patterns such as the hyper-use of the suffix –age (e.g., slayage) or variation in syntactic patterns (over-identify much?), Adams argues that knowledge of Slayer slang is necessary to know American culture of the time. Dedicated to the series’ writers, this erudite but lucidly written celebration of Buffy’s language helped establish Buffy studies as serious scholarship.

    Find this resource:

  • Adams, Michael. “Buffy and the Death of Style.” In Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. Edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James South, 83–94. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    To put Adams’s complicated case simply, the argument is that the reduction in lexical inventiveness and other stylistic playfulness observable by this lexicographer in the last season is a purposeful reflection of the foregrounding of purpose, of mission, over style.

    Find this resource:

  • Bianchi, Diana. “Taming Teen-Language: The Adaptation of ‘Buffyspeak’ into Italian.” In Between Text and Image: Updating Research in Screen Translation. Edited by Delia Chiaro, Chiara Bucaria, and Christine Heiss, 185–198. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes specific difficulties of translating the unusual formations of Buffy slang into Italian.

    Find this resource:

  • Bosseaux, Charlotte. “‘Bloody hell. Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks. Oh God, I’m English’: Translating Spike.” In Special Issue: Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture. Edited by Samantha George and Bill Hughes. Gothic Studies 15.1 (2013): 21–32.

    DOI: 10.7227/GS.15.1.3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explains that for the French translations of Buffy, there are two versions: dubbed or subtitled; even the subtitles change the wording. The nature of Spike’s Englishness being presented in an American setting adds an extra level of complexity to translation into French and mutes otherness. His English otherness is still there, though not as clearly.

    Find this resource:

  • Drewniok, Malgorzata. “‘I feel strong. I feel different’: Transformation, Vampires and Language.” In Special Issue: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture. Edited by Samantha George and Bill Hughes. Gothic Studies 15.1 (2013): 131–145.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drewniok explores three types of transformation in Buffy, all reflected in language: revival from death, becoming a vampire, and soul restoration for a vampire. These shifts in status and language display part of the general boundary-blurring of the series.

    Find this resource:

  • Mandala, Susan. “Solidarity and the Scoobies: An Analysis of the –Y Suffix in the Television Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Language and Literature 16.1 (2007): 53–73.

    DOI: 10.1177/0963947007072845Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzing sixty-six episodes, Mandala argues that the –Y suffix variable indicates not just membership within a group but shifting connections between members.

    Find this resource:

  • Masson, Cynthea. “‘Can You Just Be Kissing Me Now?’: The Question(s) of Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Televising Queer Women: A Reader. Edited by Rebecca Beirne, 65–81. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230610200_5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the framing of questions as implicit requests (and the intermixing of words and action) and the various significance of questions that surround Willow, in terms of sexual orientation and of the meaning of the series overall.

    Find this resource:

  • Masson, Cynthea. “Concealing Truths: Rhetorical Questions in “Once More, with Feeling.”” In Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing. Edited by Kendra Preston Leonard, 133–154. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Masson contests the typical analysis of songs in a musical as expressing true feeling. This expert rhetorical analysis illustrates that the seeming revelation of truth in the musical episode often conceals it; the characters’ words do not truly communicate. The many rhetorical questions hint at the secrets they keep; the words often mislead from the true meaning. Furthermore, in the Buffyverse, we should never expect a direct answer to questions.

    Find this resource:

  • Overbey, Eileen, and Lahney Preston-Matto. “Staking in Tongues: Speech Act as Weapon in Buffy.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 73–84. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An often-cited, lively, textually specific analysis, addressing language as revealing the natures of the main characters in the series.

    Find this resource:

  • Willis, Victoria. “Deliver Us from Evil: Demons, Feminism, and Rhetorical Spaces in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In At Home in the Whedonverse: Essays on Domestic Place, Space and Life. Edited by Juliette C. Kitchens, 122–141. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using a background of the history of rhetoric and silencing of women, Willis explores speechmaking in Buffy, noting that podium speakers in the series are often white, male, middle class, and evil—but that Buffy herself often makes speeches in domestic spaces.

    Find this resource:

Law

While law is not a subject that immediately comes to mind in discussing Buffy, a number of legal scholars have turned their attention to the series, in part because they recognize that there can be both governmental or state law and non-state law. Anthony Bradney alone has written several articles on law and Buffy, not all of which can be listed here. Bradney 2006 makes an interesting claim about the relative realism of Buffy’s law, while Bradney 2003 connects law and love, a prominent topic in the series. In the first issue of the Slayage journal, McClelland 2001 looks at the question of extralegal killings by the hero of the series. Lee 2013 provides a highly interesting article in line with those that analyze the series for its real-world implications embedded in fantasy, in this case, the idea of prosecutorial discretion, a topic with overlap for studies of race and ethnicity. Ruddell 2006 convincingly examines the connections between law, language, and power.

LGBTQ

LGBTQ studies are one of the most important areas of discussion for Buffy studies; the series’ pioneering presentation of a long-running romantic relationship between lesbians, and the relationship’s shocking end, is only one of the elements to be considered. Amy-Chinn 2005 and Stepniak 2017 both analyze the queering of vampire characters—Spike and Drusilla, respectively. McAvan 2007 observes a lack of overt acknowledgment of bisexuality, while Moorman 2011 argues that the lack of bisexual representation has its roots in business reasons, not just aesthetics. Cochran 2008 also points out that, comparably, though the presence of Tara and Willow’s relationship is to be praised, much of it is metaphoric or omitted. Frohard-Dourlent 2012 too contends that heteronormativity is still dominant despite the heteroflexible storyline of Buffy and Satsu in Buffy Season Eight; see Frohard-Dourlent’s related chapter in Waggoner 2010 under Sexuality. Tabron 2004, Ryan 2009, and Wilts 2009 all tackle the vexed issue of Tara’s death and the aesthetic and cultural forces involved. Jowett and Frohard-Dourlent 2017 offers a collection of half a dozen scholarly essays on LGBTQ issues.

  • Amy-Chinn, Dee. “Queering the Bitch: Spike, Transgression, and Erotic Empowerment.” In Special Issue: The Vampire Spike in Text and Fandom: Unsettling Oppositions in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Dee Amy-Chinn and Milly Williamson. European Journal of Cultural Studies 8.3 (2005): 313–328.

    DOI: 10.1177/1367549405054864Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assesses Spike as an exuberant character who, refusing victimhood, presents a variety of options challenging traditional binaries of gender and sex. Despite his phallic name, for example, Spike’s desire to talk in his relationship with Buffy, and his giving sexual services while receiving little respect, are signal examples of bending gender stereotypes. While women have historically been sometimes denied to have a soul, Spike changes his “biology” by acquiring one.

    Find this resource:

  • Cochran, Tanya R. “Complicating the Open Closet: The Visual Rhetoric of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sapphic Lovers.” In Televising Queer Women: A Reader. Edited by Rebecca Beirne, 49–63. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230610200_4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the complexity of the portrayal of the relationship between Willow and Tara in terms of both the presence of normalizing visual imagery and the absence of images of sex of the sort granted Buffy. Cochran also considers the photographs that the characters’ actors granted to men’s magazines (photographs that echo images in Xander’s dream in “Restless”) and whether these may have negatively affected interpretation.

    Find this resource:

  • Frohard-Dourlent, Hélène. “When the Heterosexual Script Goes Flexible: Public Reactions to Female Heteroflexibility in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comic Books.” Sexualities 15.5–6 (2012): 718–738.

    DOI: 10.1177/1363460712446281Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the Buffy comics Season Eight events in which Buffy has sex with another woman, examining reader responses. Argues that both those who liked and those who disliked the storyline do not evince clear understanding of the operations of heteronormativity, thus suggesting that representations of heteroflexibility do little to subvert norms.

    Find this resource:

  • Jowett, Lorna, and Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, eds. Special Issue: Queering the Whedonverses: Interrogating Whedon from a Multiplicity of Queer Perspectives. Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 15.2 (2017).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Jowett and Frohard-Dourlent present a great variety of articles by scholars writing mainly on Buffy: on the visual examination of Buffy’s vampires, undermining the hierarchy of Mulvey’s gaze; Drusilla as queen of queer (see Stepniak 2017); Xander and Andrew in terms of the disavowal of queerness; problems in the presentations of bisexual women; sexualities in the Season Eight comics; and various pedagogies.

    Find this resource:

  • McAvan, Em. “‘I think I’m kinda gay’: Willow Rosenberg and the Absent/Present Bisexual in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 6.4 (2007).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Asserts that there is not an exclusive lesbian or bisexual reading of Willow. In some ways the character’s arc follows the traditional coming-out pattern of heterosexual partners followed by same-sex partners; however, certain instances, such as Vamp Willow and Dark Willow, after Tara’s death, or the episode “Him,” imply or show bisexuality. Overall, McAvan argues that bisexuality is insufficiently acknowledged in the series.

    Find this resource:

  • Moorman, Jennifer. “‘Kinda Gay’: Queer Cult Fandom and Willow’s (Bi)Sexuality in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Supernatural Youth: The Rise of the Teen Hero in Literature and Popular Culture. Edited by Jes Battis, 102–115. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the creators resisted interpretations of Willow as bisexual in order not to weaken the effect of the first long-term lesbian relationship on television, for both aesthetic and business reasons.

    Find this resource:

  • Ryan, Brandy. “‘It’s complicated . . . because of Tara.’: History, Identity Politics, and the Straight White Male Author.” In Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. Edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James South, 57–74. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the positive elements of the Willow-Tara relationship are more important than suggestions of the Dead-Evil Lesbian Cliché connected to Tara’s death, and that even Willow’s anger suggests her humanity. Examines Internet reaction such as that of the Kitten board and discusses magic as multiple signifier. Death can come to any character in Buffy, emphasizing the value of life.

    Find this resource:

  • Stepniak, Anthony. “Actualizing Abjection: Drusilla, the Whedonverses’ Queen of Queerness.” In Special Issue: Queering the Whedonverses: Interrogating Whedon from a Multiplicity of Queer Perspectives. Edited by Lorna Jowett and Hélène Frohard-Dourlent. Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 15.2 (2017).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses highly specific images and thoughtful textual analysis to argue for Drusilla as a queer figure.

    Find this resource:

  • Tabron, Judith L. “Girl on Girl Politics: Willow/Tara and New Approaches to Media Fandom.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 4.1–2 (2004).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The often-cited Tabron argues that fans’ complaints about Tara’s death are notably political in nature, not just based on the loss of a favorite character. Responses that elevate series aesthetics disregard that Whedon was also responding to the drive for ratings; anti-censorship arguments are important, but dismissive reactions to fans overlook issues such as the death’s particular presentation, coming immediately after the first lesbian love scene allowed by the network.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilts, Alissa. “Evil, Skanky, and Kinda Gay: Lesbian Images and Issues.” In Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. Edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James South, 41–56. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gives a short history of the representation of lesbians. Argues that while the Willow-Tara representation is mostly positive, there are problems in Tara’s death; coming immediately after their first non-metaphoric sex, it suggests the Dead-Evil Lesbian Cliché, and the femme appearance of Willow’s next lover, Kennedy, misses an opportunity for broader representation. That none of the Buffy writers were gay may, Wilts argues, have limited their success despite good intentions.

    Find this resource:

Literature and Influences

As many have long realized, the writers of Buffy are highly literate and enrich the text with a variety of references—some, brief remarks; others, embedded structures. Early 2003, Fritts 2005, Gilliland 2018, Hampton 2007, and Rose 2002 make clear-cut, illuminating connections to specific authors such as D. H. Lawrence and Byron and characters such as Beowulf, the Celtic Boudicca, and Shelley’s Frankenstein. Other scholars deal with more complex literary topics such as Faerian Drama in Croft 2018; Courtly Love in Spah 2002; Ovid and, more generally, the epic in Krzywinska 2009; and contemporary paranormal romance in Mukherjea 2011. While Hampton 2007 is not an example of traditional scholarship, it is a perceptive essay from a highly regarded critic, an essay with larger cultural implications. Rabb and Richardson 2015 is an attempt at a book-length investigation of connections between Buffy and related series and the works of Shakespeare in moral terms; while thought-provoking and interesting, much of the book would be best appreciated by someone already familiar with Shakespeare.

  • Croft, Janet Brennan. “‘What if I’m still there? What if I never left that clinic?’: Faerian Drama in Buffy’s ‘Normal Again’.” Special Issue: Buffy at 20. Edited by Gerry Canavan and James B. South. Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 16.2 (2018).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Connects Buffy with the history of Faerian Drama and child exchange, particularly in relation to Tolkien’s writings.

    Find this resource:

  • Early, Frances. “The Female Just Warrior Reimagined: From Boudicca to Buffy.” In Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Women Warriors. Edited by Frances Early and Kathleen Kennedy, 55–65. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses Buffy in the context of the mythologized Celtic Boudicca, the Old Testament’s Judith, and Joan of Arc, arguing that there is an effective feminism in the series’ presentation of an open image of a just female warrior and in its exploration of power and gender.

    Find this resource:

  • Fritts, David. “Warrior Heroes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Beowulf.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 5.1 (2005).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Invoking Tolkien’s defense of Beowulf, in which a warrior fights supernatural creatures, Fritts points out significant parallels: the setting threatened by hellish foes; the repeated rhythm of battle, success, and return to battle; the increasing test each new enemy poses; the weapons with a genealogy, most notably the Scythe; the defiance of prophecy with courage; the hero’s eloquence; the willingness to die for others that makes both these heroes powerful.

    Find this resource:

  • Gilliland, Elizabeth. “Double Trouble: Gothic Shadows and Self-Discovery in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 16.1 (2018).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gilliland convincingly employs the Female Gothic analysis of shadows/doubles in analyzing Buffy’s three major love interests, comparing them to literary precedents: Angel/Angelus, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Riley, Mary Shelley’s Creature of Dr. Frankenstein; Spike, the Byronic hero-villain. Working through her relationship with each, Buffy also works through a reflected problem in her own identity.

    Find this resource:

  • Hampton, Howard. “American Daemons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Studies in Classic American Literature.” In Born in Flames: Termite Dreams, Dialectical Fairy Tales, and Pop Apocalypses. By Howard Hampton, 372–377. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares Buffy with D. H. Lawrence and notes that Lawrence’s book Studies describes the division between liberating passion and repression in American literature that can also be seen in Buffy.

    Find this resource:

  • Krzywinska, Tanya. “Arachne Challenges Minerva: The Spinning Out of Long Narrative in World of Warcraft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 385–398. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the long narratives of the game and the series in the context of the epic and what is sometimes called the anti-epic, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as represented by Minerva (structured epic) and Arachne, who presents complications, disorder, and complexity in art. The Buffy narrative has elements of both.

    Find this resource:

  • Mukherjea, Ananya. “My Vampire Boyfriend: Postfeminism, ‘Perfect’ Masculinity, and the Contemporary Appeal of Paranormal Romance.” Studies in Popular Culture 33.2 (2011): 1–20.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Usefully places Buffy in the larger context of contemporary paranormal romance, especially YA (Young Adult) romance such as Twilight, and the paradoxical appeal to security in the form of the paranormal (often vampire) male.

    Find this resource:

  • Rabb, J. Douglas, and J. Michael Richardson. Joss Whedon as Shakespearean Moralist: Narrative Ethics of the Bard and the Buffyverse. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Many have intermittently discussed Shakespeare and Buffy; this book engages the subject more thoroughly, from the perspective of narrative ethics. Part of the meaning of the book depends on a deceptive rhetorical device, the academic equivalent of a running gag. Those who do not get the joke will underestimate this book.

    Find this resource:

  • Rose, Anita. “Of Creatures and Creators: Buffy Does Frankenstein.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 133–142. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Perceptively examines the influences and reimagining of Mary Shelley’s story via Adam, Buffy’s echo of Frankenstein’s monster, including parallels of negative parenting of the Creature. In particular, Rose points out that Shelley implicitly criticized the solitary Romantic hero in the form of her scientist, and that Buffy answers the trope by the Scoobies’ communal conquering of the monster.

    Find this resource:

  • Spah, Victoria. “‘Ain’t love grand?’: Spike and Courtly Love.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 2.1 (2002).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While recognizing the modern differences, this article examines the applicability of the medieval literary romantic conventions collectively termed courtly love to the relationship between Spike and Buffy, arguing that the relationship gradually elevates the nature of the lover, Spike.

    Find this resource:

Music and Sound

Buffy has some of the best music and most sensitive use of sound on television, and scholars have not overlooked that fact. Hill 2009 connects its music to fandom. Leonard 2011 offers a full collection of essays on music, the majority of them effectively adding to the understanding of the series’ meaning. Wilcox 2012 emphasizes the connection between sound, music, and visuals. The premiere musicologist of Buffy studies is Janet Halfyard. Halfyard 2001 was the opening salvo in a brilliant sequence of works on music, displaying a genuine understanding of the connection between technique and meaning. Halfyard 2016 places the music of Buffy as important in the history of television music overall. Attinello, et al. 2010 is the strongest collection on music overall.

  • Attinello, Paul, Janet K. Halfyard, and Vanessa Knights, eds. Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes fourteen intelligent, highly academic essays on a variety of subjects such as music and genre, gender, leitmotifs; sonic codes, silence and death; fan-created music videos and popular music demographics; and three essays on the musical episode “Once More, with Feeling.”

    Find this resource:

  • Halfyard, Janet K. “Love, Death, Curses and Reverses (in F Minor): Music, Gender and Identity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 1.4 (2001).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The premiere analysis of the significance of music in Buffy and its relationship to the major subject of gender, presented by a musicologist who writes lucidly.

    Find this resource:

  • Halfyard, Janet K. “Listening to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In Sounds of Fear and Wonder: Music in Cult TV. By Janet K. Halfyard, 73–92. London: I. B. Tauris, 2016.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781350988088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Importantly clarifies the position of the music of Buffy within the history of television music overall. Halfyard uses specific musicological analysis yet makes the writing accessible and interesting to non-specialists.

    Find this resource:

  • Hill, Kathryn. “‘Easy to Associate Angsty Lyrics with Buffy’: An Introduction to a Participatory Fan Culture: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vidders, Popular Music and the Internet.” In Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom. Edited by Mary Kirby-Diaz, 172–196. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carefully explores the use of popular music set to their own video pastiches by fans—vidders—who thus illuminate their interpretations of the text, often in subtle ways.

    Find this resource:

  • Leonard, Kendra Preston, ed. Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Most of the essays in this collection are on Buffy. Many of them use musicology to make their points, but those points are always related to the show’s meaning and generally written in lucid style. Work on Buffy’s music arc, Spike and sound, music and performance, race, gender, and more are included.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilcox, Rhonda V. “The Darkness of ‘Passion’: Visuals and Voiceovers, Sound and Shadow.” In Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion: The TV Series, the Movies, the Comic Books and More. Edited by Mary Alice Money, 102–112. London: Titan, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues for the importance of connecting sound and visuals in interpreting the series (and all television), using the episode “Passion” (in which a major character is killed) to illustrate. A detailed explication of the episode, covering music, sound effects, voiceovers, lighting, and framing in the context of narrative. Compare the discussions of other episodes in Wilcox 2005 (cited General Overviews and Interviews), especially regarding bright light, lack of music, and attempted rape in “Seeing Red.”

    Find this resource:

Narrative

Narrative is central to Buffy, and many scholars have addressed the subject. Rambo 2018 and Bowman 2002 cover large patterns in the narrative, Bowman specifically from the viewpoint of the Campbellian hero monomyth; Frankel 2012 expands that subject to book length. More theoretical analyses are provided by Bussolini 2013, Da Ros 2004, Jowett 2014, Lavery 2003, and Lavery 2002. Kociemba 2009 and Mathis 2014 analyze narrative patterns typical of writers Jane Espenson and Marti Noxon. For one of the best discussions of Buffy’s narrative patterns, see also the introduction of Kaveney 2004 under General Overviews and Interviews.

Pedagogy

Many papers on teaching Buffy have been presented at popular culture conferences in general and the Slayage biennial conferences in particular; however, fewer have been published. Turnbull 2003 considers both methodology and purpose in teaching Buffy. Kreider and Winchell 2010 is the central text for this subject, with eighteen carefully researched and effectively edited essays on a variety of aspects of Buffy and pedagogy.

  • Kreider, Jodie A., and Meghan K. Winchell. Buffy in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching with the Vampire Slayer. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes eighteen scholarly essays on a lively variety of subjects, including references to Shakespeare, first-year composition, the question of spoilers, fairy tale imagery with allusions to Red Riding Hood, feminism made less frightening, teaching film production, television violence, censorship, and more.

    Find this resource:

  • Turnbull, Sue. “Teaching Buffy: The Curriculum and the Text in Media Studies.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 17.1 (2003): 19–31.

    DOI: 10.1080/1030431022000048994Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Published at a point when television studies were arguably still nascent, this essay poses the question of whether cinema studies (now, television studies?) might be a better background for teaching Buffy than media studies. Turnbull contends that Buffy’s main educational value lies in the characters’ grappling with moral uncertainty and changes.

    Find this resource:

Philosophy, Ethics, and Religion

From almost the beginning, scholars of philosophy and religion have been drawn to Buffy’s embedding of complex issues and ideas in a rich text. One of the earliest books is South 2003, an enjoyable exploration of the ideas of various classic philosophers as they apply to the series. Although the creator of Buffy is a declared atheist, there is a very large number of studies on various aspects of Christianity as they connect to Buffy, including Erickson 2002; Koontz 2008; Mills, et al. 2013; Santana and Erickson 2016; and Stevenson 2003, the latter of which is also a thorough-going analysis of the text that deserves revisiting by Buffy scholars. Riess 2004, on the other hand, covers an array of religions as they connect to the series, and Richardson and Rabb 2007, an influential book, argues that Buffy is imbued with existentialism. McLaren 2005 and Kowalski 2018 are the finest of a number of works that investigate the fascinating significance of the nature of the soul in Buffy and Angel.

  • Erickson, Gregory. “‘Sometimes You Need a Story’: American Christianity, Vampires, and Buffy.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 108–119. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the role of fear in vampire legends and in Christianity, in part as a creative force, and details the complex ways in which religion inheres in Buffy. Guided by a broad knowledge of popular culture and religious scholarship, this is not only one of the earliest but also one of the best discussions of religion in Buffy.

    Find this resource:

  • Koontz, Dale K. Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With half a dozen chapters on Buffy, Koontz provides witty, perceptive analyses of the series. Informed by a Christian perspective but also referencing other religions, the book acknowledges Whedon’s atheism and emphasizes the idea of choice and redemption in Buffy and related works.

    Find this resource:

  • Kowalski, Dean. “Visions of the Soul: Looking Back on Buffy and Angel.” In Special Issue: Buffy at 20. Edited by Gerry Canavan and James B. South. Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 16.2 (2018).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carefully examines earlier scholarly interpretations of the soul in the Buffyverse, including Stevenson 2003, Richardson and Rabb 2007, and McLaren 2005. Offers a synthesis of McLaren’s three options: the soul as theoretical entity, whose exact nature is unspecified. Cautions against the fallacy of authorial intent in interpreting the soul or other matters.

    Find this resource:

  • McLaren, Scott. “The Evolution of Joss Whedon’s Vampire Mythology and the Ontology of the Soul.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 5.2 (2005).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this frequently referenced essay, McLaren explores seeming contradictions in the Buffyverse’s presentation of the soul. Is it a symbol of existential moral agency, or a removable, reified seat of the conscience, or something between—equipment for making choices without which morality is much more difficult? Can vampires be blamed for actions done when soulless? Comparing the work of Iris Murdoch, McLaren argues that uncertainty in the text is appropriate.

    Find this resource:

  • Mills, Anthony R., John W. Morehead, and J. Ryan Parker. Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Exploration of the Sacred. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes a handful of enthusiastic essays on the Buffyverse focusing on spiritual transformation as represented by the soul, hell-harrowing, Buffy and the Virgin Mary, Wicca and thealogy, the apocalypse, and more. As with South 2003, research references tend to be largely limited to major figures in religion and philosophy, yet the authors do offer interesting observations.

    Find this resource:

  • Richardson, J. Michael, and J. Douglas Rabb. The Existential Joss Whedon: Evil and Human Freedom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Serenity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using a combination of philosophical references and Buffy scholarship, and grounding their analysis in specific examples from the text, Richardson and Rabb examine the self-creating choices of characters including Buffy, Willow, Faith, Spike, Xander, Riley, and more. A useful and often-referenced work.

    Find this resource:

  • Riess, Jana. What Would Buffy Do?: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Written for a popular audience, but covering a wide range of spiritual traditions and their many illustrations in the series, a series the author clearly understands well. Particularly interesting on bodhisattva figures.

    Find this resource:

  • Santana, Richard W., and Gregory Erickson. “Television Drama, Fan Communities, Vampires and Theology.” In Religion and Popular Culture: Rescripting the Sacred. 2d ed. By Richard W. Santana and Gregory Erickson, 140–169. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends that Christian fans who admire Buffy are often sophisticatedly separating text from author and believe that the questions it raises often are deeper than those found in familiar religious contexts. The show uses but stands apart from traditional religion, always challenging its viewers to examine and recognize spiritual complexity. The book as a whole places the series in a larger cultural context of religion and popular culture.

    Find this resource:

  • South, James B., ed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As with all the books in this series, the essays are lightly researched and normally focus on the understanding of a different philosopher in each chapter through relevant illustrations from the text, in this case, Buffy. Nonetheless, the essays are generally thoughtful and often illuminating, applying philosophy to feminism, pragmatism, and various other –isms and extending from topics such as fascism to education to salvation.

    Find this resource:

  • Stevenson, Gregory. Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stevenson contends that critics too often judge the morality of television presentations based on material taken out of context. He uses Buffy to argue that the fullness of the narrative must be brought to bear, giving context to moral issues. In so doing, he provides highly insightful analysis of the series. This is an important book, for Buffy and for television studies in general, and should be referenced more.

    Find this resource:

Politics

Many publications have a substratum of or indirect reference to political meaning in Buffy; fewer have it as their main focus. One publication that expanded interest beyond academic circles is Kordesman 2001, which compares real-world political problems in dealing with modern-world attacks to problems in the series and invites those in government to take heed. South 2001 gives a Marxist interpretation of vampire capitalism and technology, while King 2003, while awarding some praise to the empowered protagonist, nonetheless warns of incipient fascism in the series.

  • King, Neal. “Brownskirts: Fascism, Christianity, and the Eternal Demon.” In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Edited by James B. South, 197–211. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Raises concerns of fascistic elements in the series, particularly as tied to the idea of natural versus moral good in those whom Buffy slays.

    Find this resource:

  • Kordesman, Anthony H. Biological Warfare and the “Buffy Paradigm.” Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A government report rather than an academic article, this publication did much to expand notice of the significance of the series. Published less than a month after 9/11, it offers parallels between problematic political situations in Buffy’s world and the post-9/11 world, such as the unpredictability of alliances among attackers. The report serves to buttress the real-world significance of behaviors in the series.

    Find this resource:

  • South, James B. “‘All Torment, Trouble, Wonder, and Amazement Inhabits Here’: The Vicissitudes of Technology in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Journal of American and Comparative Cultures 24.1–2 (2001): 93–102.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this frequently cited article, South provides a Marxist analysis of Buffy, connecting capitalism to technology and vampirism, especially as displayed in the third-season episodes “Anne” and “The Wish.”

    Find this resource:

Production

The intersection of production and creativity is an underserved section of study for Buffy as for most other series. Burr 2003 and Hill and Calcutt 2007 discuss the impact of editing done by the BBC on the series; Holder, et al. 2000, in contrast, gives detailed production information from behind the scenes in one of the Buffy guides. Johnson 2005 invokes recognition of the presumable business motives informing creative decisions. Lavery 2002, in contrast, discusses the interaction of creativity and the production process. Matthew Pateman, who has also written on production as related to the Joss Whedon/Tim Minear–helmed television series Firefly, has done important scholarly service in discussing production in essentially the first half of Pateman 2018. See also the opening chapters of Lavery 2015 under General Overviews and Interviews.

  • Burr, Vivien. Buffy vs. the BBC: Moral Questions and How to Avoid Them.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 2.4 (2003).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Citing the 2001 version of Hill and Calcutt 2007, Burr analyzes the specifics of the BBC’s interventionist editing, e.g., for “Smashed,” “Gone,” and “Dead Things.” Argues that the editing, by excising scenes of sex, hides Buffy’s choices; by excising scenes of violence and even comments acknowledging rape and murder, hides male culpability. In sum, the edits reduce the audience’s moral agency.

    Find this resource:

  • Hill, Annette, and Ian Calcutt. “Vampire Hunters: The Scheduling and Reception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel in the United Kingdom.” In Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Lisa Parks and Elana Levine, 56–73. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822390152-004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the problematic scheduling of the series and its censoring through editing by the BBC, as well as discussing fan reactions and compensatory behaviors: By extensive editing, the BBC affects production. Published in earlier form in Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media 1.1 (2001).

    Find this resource:

  • Holder, Nancy, Jeff Mariotte, and Maryelizabeth Hart. “Creating Buffy: The Production Process.” In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide. Vol. 2. By Nancy Holder, Jeff Mariotte, and Maryelizabeth Hart, 319–452. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The writers were granted backstage privileges and provide over a hundred pages of information on production, including pre-production such as the location scout or tech scout, casting, costuming, production design and set decoration, props, hair and makeup, editing, music, and interviews with writers and directors.

    Find this resource:

  • Johnson, Catherine. “Quality/Cult Television: The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in U.S. Television of the 1990s.” In Telefantasy. By Catherine Johnson, 95–123. London: British Film Institute, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that telefantasy series such as Buffy and The X-Files succeed because their signature aesthetic styles constitute branding that propels commerce, including the sale of ancillary products. Though published in 2005, the chapter was apparently sent to press before the author could reference any scholarship after Kaveney’s 2001 edition (London: I. B. Tauris). However, Johnson carefully discusses an underserved area of analysis, placing the series in a larger context.

    Find this resource:

  • Lavery, David. “Afterword: The Genius of Joss Whedon.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 251–256. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brief but illuminating commentary on the production of the Season Four finale dream episode “Restless,” especially in regard to the use of contiguous sets as dreamscapes and in regard to the writing process.

    Find this resource:

  • Pateman, Matthew. Joss Whedon. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2018.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While Pateman 2006 (cited under General Overviews and Interviews) explores the aesthetics of Buffy, this book thoughtfully investigates the impact of politics, industry practices, and other influences on production in the quest to create art.

    Find this resource:

Psychology

Psychology connects in many ways to many discussions of Buffy, primarily in terms of character analysis. Scholars who turn their attention to specific characters include Carroll 2009 (Jonathan); Morse 2009 (Dawn); Sippola, et al. 2007 (Cordelia); and Abbott 2005, who considers the madness of the ensouled Spike. McDonald 2002 also discusses insanity and its connection to myth. Ginn 2012, in a book-length study by a specialist in the field of psychology, covers a number of characters in terms of issues of power. Rather than focusing on specific characters, Cover 2005 deals with drug addiction, and Fixler 2018, mental health care. Schlozman 2000 reports on and analyzes a practicing therapist’s application of Buffy’s narratives as they help patients psychologically. Here, as in many other sections, the variety of kinds of studies is impressive.

Race and Ethnicity

Many scholars have found one of few noteworthy series weaknesses to be Buffy’s lack of diversity and problematic representations of race/ethnicity. Ono 2000 first called for recognition of the problem. Money 2002 argued that the series’ employment of symbolism indicates a symbolic diversity. Alessio 2001 decried the lack of representation in general and the problematic representation of Native Americans, specifically in the Thanksgiving episode “Pangs”; Szeghi and Dempster 2017 surveys earlier scholarship on “Pangs” and Native Americans (and there are several pieces not named here). There are articles on various other ethnicities, such as Potts 2003 on stereotyping of the Irish and Alderman and Seidel-Arpaci 2003 on Jewishness. Alderman and Seidel-Arpaci also discuss blackness, and in fact that is the topic of most works in this section, including Edwards 2002, Kirkland 2005, and Middents 2011. Iatropoulos and Woodall 2017 is a full collection on the subject of race/ethnicity, with many thoughtful essays.

  • Alderman, Naomi, and Annette Seidel-Arpaci. “Imaginary Para-Sites of the Soul: Vampires and Representation of ‘Blackness’ and ‘Jewishness’ in the Buffy/Angel-verse.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 3.2 (2003).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Points out the history of anti-Semitism connected to older vampire stories along with the general idea of the Other. Analyzes the characters of Willow and Angel from Buffy, along with the latter and Charles Gunn in the Angel series. Connects Angel to the cursed Wandering Jew; notes the ensouled Spike’s physical embrace of the cross; comments on Willow’s inactive Jewishness. Overall, suggests that Christianity is, however unintentionally, the default reference.

    Find this resource:

  • Alessio, Dominic. “‘Things are different now?’: A Post-Colonial Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” European Legacy 6.6 (2001): 731–740.

    DOI: 10.1080/03075070120099485Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Notes the general lack of diversity in casting as a troubling element of the series; focuses in particular, with detailed analysis, on the debated Thanksgiving episode “Pangs.” Alessio points out that the writer and director overtly raised postcolonial issues but argues that the ending, the death of the Native American spirit character, largely undoes any gains.

    Find this resource:

  • Edwards, Lynne. “Slaying in Black and White: Kendra as Tragic Mulatta.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 85–97. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Demonstrates that the black Slayer Kendra follows the established limiting literary pattern of the tragic mulatta; a thoughtful exploration of subtext.

    Find this resource:

  • Iatropoulos, Mary Ellen, and Lowery A. Woodall III, eds. Joss Whedon and Race: Critical Essays. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sixteen essays based in critical race theory with a great deal of careful research, most treating the Buffyverse. The book covers not just blackness and whiteness but also the Roma, Native Americans, Latinx people, Asians, Jewishness, and more.

    Find this resource:

  • Kirkland, Ewan. “The ‘Caucasian Persuasion’ of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 5.1 (2005).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using Richard Dyer’s work on the default perception of whiteness, argues that whiteness in Buffy is almost ubiquitous, applying not only to daylight and dark imagery and to heroes’ ethnicity but most of the villains as well: roommate Kathy, Sunday, Harmony, Spike, Ted, Ethan Rayne, and more. Kirkland contends that the series’ success with representing gender has caused too little examination of race/ethnicity: whiteness needs to be deconstructed.

    Find this resource:

  • Middents, Jeffery R. “A Sweet Vamp: Critiquing the Treatment of Race in Buffy and the American Musical ‘Once More (with Feeling).’” In Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon. Edited by Kendra Preston Leonard, 119–132. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Middents remarks on earlier scholarship on Buffy’s lack of diversity and compares that lack to the segregation of movie musicals of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, arguing that the well-known African American musical actor Hinton Battle, who portrays the controlling demon character of Sweet in the musical episode “Once More, with Feeling,” is an acknowledgment and critique of that lack.

    Find this resource:

  • Money, Mary Alice. “The Undemonization of Supporting Characters in Buffy.” In Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, 98–107. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In an oft-cited essay, Money argues that the show’s symbolism indicates a gradual demarginalization of those who have been Othered; in part, a response to Ono 2000.

    Find this resource:

  • Ono, Kent A. “To Be a Vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Race and (‘Other’) Socially Marginalizing Positions in Horror TV.” In Fantasy Girls: Gender in the New Universe of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. Edited by Elyce Rae Helford, 163–186. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The earliest academic work to make the issue of race in Buffy central to discussion. This essay makes use of the series’ practice of conveying meaning through symbolism to argue that vampires and other monsters symbolically represent the denigration of racially othered groups.

    Find this resource:

  • Potts, Donna. “Convents, Claddagh Rings, and Even the Book of Kells: Representing the Irish in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education: SIMILE 3.2 (2003): 1–9.

    DOI: 10.3138/sim.3.2.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the stereotyping of the Irish as it is conveyed through the character of Angel, born Liam, and the conflict of the Irish and English as represented by the conflict between Angel and the English characters Spike and Wesley.

    Find this resource:

  • Szeghi, Tereza, and Wesley Dempster. “‘Why don’t you just go back where you came from?’ or “Slight yams’: ‘Pangs’ of Regret and Unresolved Ambivalence in Joss Whedon’s California.” Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 15.1 (2017).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carefully reviews preceding scholarship on the controversial Thanksgiving episode “Pangs” and argues that, despite some ameliorative efforts, it is finally negative in effect in its portrayal of Native Americans.

    Find this resource:

Sexuality

While Buffy is recognized for its presentation of issues of gender, it is also a series that takes seriously the subject of sexuality. Burr 2003 argues that while Buffy offers views of alternative sexuality, it does so only by connecting such sexuality with monsters. Call 2007 responds directly to Burr and argues that the series is progressive in its acknowledgment of power as part of sexual relations, and in its presentation of sadomasochism; Call 2010 asserts that the Buffy Season Eight comics are even more progressive. McCracken 2007 and Siegel 2007 also address the subject of erotic bondage. See also Burr 2003 under Production for a discussion of the series’ presentation of the hero Buffy as choosing alternative sexual behaviors (a presentation that the BBC censored). Waggoner 2010 is a solid collection of over a dozen essays on various aspects of sexuality in Buffy.

  • Burr, Vivien. “Ambiguity and Sexuality in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Sartrean Analysis.” Sexualities 6.3, 4 (2003): 343–360.

    DOI: 10.1177/136346070363005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that human/vampire relationships on Buffy actually allow for depictions closer to reality, because they are less constrained by expectations of what are appropriate human relationships. Assesses Drusilla/Spike, Riley/Buffy, Buffy/Angel, Spike/Angel in light of Sartrean relationship ambiguity (or its lack) as a key to erotic tension. Notes that, however, sexual variety is connected to the monsters.

    Find this resource:

  • Call, Lewis. “‘Sounds like kinky business to me’: Subtextual and Textual Representations of Erotic Power in the Buffyverse.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 6.4 (2007).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that toleration for alternative sexualities, not only gay and lesbian but also sadomasochistic, exists in the Buffyverse. Asserts that the Buffyverse importantly recognizes that power inevitably exists in every erotic relationship. Disagrees with Burr 2003, assessing that there is an endorsement of ethical erotic power exchange, and that includes more and more obvious representations of alternative sexualities including dominance and submission in sadomasochism. Offers many specific textual illustrations.

    Find this resource:

  • Call, Lewis. “Slaying the Heteronormative: Representations of Alternative Sexuality in Buffy Season Eight Comics.” In Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays. Edited by Erin B. Waggoner, 106–116. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Call, who has written widely on the subject of sexuality in science fiction/fantasy and is the most prolific author on sexuality in Buffy, argues that the Season Eight comics are even more progressive than the television series. Focusing on the sexual practices and attitudes of several major characters, the essay emphasizes Anya’s as a feminist sexuality.

    Find this resource:

  • McCracken, Alison. “At Stake: Angel’s Body, Fantasy Masculinity, and Queer Desire in Teen Television.” In Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Lisa Parks and Elana Levine, 116–144. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822390152-007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With an exceptionally specific textual analysis, McCracken examines the gender role reversals and variations implicit in the gaze directed at Angel’s body, which is acted upon with torture and eroticized bondage.

    Find this resource:

  • Siegel, Carol. “Female Heterosexual Sadism: The Final Feminist Taboo in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series.” In Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It in a Box. Edited by Merri Lisa Johnson, 56–90. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carefully comparing the novel series and the television series, Siegel remarks on many similarities but builds a case that Hamilton’s novels are ultimately more feminist sexually, though noting that Buffy is wise to recommend that young women not submit to male dominance.

    Find this resource:

  • Waggoner, Erin B., ed. Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Over a dozen of the essays in this book are on Buffy, and many of them are strong offerings on varied subjects, such as gun symbolism, heteroflexibility, the erotic triangle, the comprehensive queerness of Andrew, alternative sexualities, Anya and positive female sexuality, paraphilia, the construction of virginity, and more.

    Find this resource:

Visuals

The section title “Visuals” is in some ways a catch-all, since it refers to matters of mise en scène as well as camera angles, editing, lighting, and more. Aloi 2003, in an essay that many remember well, Clemons 2006, and Recht 2011, in a book based on extensive primary source research, all analyze costumes and the body. See also McCracken 2007 under Sexuality. Hawk 2017 and Hautsch 2014/2015, in very different ways, analyze the visual presentations in the comics (and Hawk includes the television series as well). Middleton 2007 makes a convincing case that the editing and camera angles of Buffy generally deny voyeurism applied to the women of the show. Kociemba 2006 is a tour de force, joyfully dissecting many elements of the title sequences. Turnbull 2004, which began as a keynote address at the first Slayage conference, is a call to academic arms. Some have answered; more should.

  • Aloi, Peg. “Skin as Pale as Apple Blossom.” In Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show. Edited by Glen Yeffeth, 41–47. Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Evocatively evaluates the physical presence of Tara as portrayed by Amber Benson in terms of costume, voice, body; a response to those who expressed dissatisfaction with the casting of someone closer to normal size than typical for Hollywood. Aloi suggests that, in the irrational logic of magic, Tara’s death is Willow’s unforeseen payment for the resurrection of Buffy, connecting this idea to the visual imagery of fawns and willows.

    Find this resource:

  • Clemons, Leigh. “Real Vampires Don’t Wear Shorts: The Aesthetics of Fashion in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Special Issue: Buffy and Aesthetics. Edited by Matthew Pateman. Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 6.2 (2006).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Referencing fashion philosophers such as Joanne Entwistle, argues that fashion in Buffy is just as complex as its other aesthetic elements. Costumer Cynthia Bergstrom shopped in national stores and trendy local places to use contemporary fashion to help reduce the unreality of the fantasy world of Buffy. Clemons explicates various characters’ fashion signifiers and their changes through the series, including delving into the significance of the color palette.

    Find this resource:

  • Hautsch, Jessica. “‘What the geisha has gotten into you?’: Colorblindness, Orientalist Stereotypes, and the Problem of Global Feminism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 13–14.2, 1 (2014/2015).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides highly specific visual analysis of the representation of a queer Japanese Slayer, Satsu, in the Buffy Season Eight comics, arguing that the character is whitewashed, her diversity subsumed in the service of a universalizing whiteness and feminism, as opposed to third-wave feminism, and that the representation of Japanese culture suggests racist assumptions.

    Find this resource:

  • Hawk, Julie. “Scythe Matters: Performing Object Oriented Ontology on Domestic Space in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In At Home in the Whedonverse: Essays on Domestic Place, Space and Life. Edited by Juliette C. Kitchens, 104–121. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applying object-oriented ontology, Hawk studies the significance of the Slayer’s scythe that both kills and creates, divides and unites; it is visually symbolic in both the television series and the comics, Fray and the later Buffy seasons.

    Find this resource:

  • Kociemba, David. “‘Actually, It Explains a Lot’: Reading the Opening Title Sequences of Buffy.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 6.2 (2006).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers detailed visual and auditory analysis of the opening title sequences for all seven seasons. Notes, for example the significance of the title font variations. Comments on the greater use of images to indicate genre in early seasons and the nuanced presentations of characters in later seasons. Analyzes noteworthy variations, such as for the alternate world of “Superstar.” Comments on both industry-driven and aesthetic choices.

    Find this resource:

  • Middleton, Jason. “Buffy as Femme Fatale: The Cult Heroine and the Male Spectator.” In Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Edited by Lisa Parks and Elana Levine, 145–167. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822390152-008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With specifically analyzed textual support, Middleton contends that Buffy’s camera work and editing tend to deny voyeurism of female bodies. Also places Buffy in the context of the visuals of comic book and video game cult heroines.

    Find this resource:

  • Recht, Marcus. Der Sympathische Vampir: Visualisierungen von Männlichkeiten in der TV-serie Buffy. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examining hundreds of images from Buffy, Recht carefully discusses the significance of clothes, bodies, and the gaze. With liberal illustrations, the book focuses particularly on Angel and Spike, while providing a context of other televisual vampires such as those from Dark Shadows, Forever Knight, Moonlight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries. Published in German, it deserves translation to expand its impact.

    Find this resource:

  • Turnbull, Sue. “‘Not Just Another Buffy Paper’: Towards an Aesthetics of Television.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 4.1–2 (2004).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews the typically resistant scholarly reception of television studies in general and Buffy studies in particular, then makes a case for the value of the television series as not just sociological but also aesthetic. Turnbull analyzes the “Storyteller” episode in terms of its visual techniques of panning and saturated color for opening sequences juxtaposed with faux-documentary and slow-motion dream sequences to illustrate some of the visual complexities of the show.

    Find this resource:

back to top

Article

Up

Down