I wanted to let this community know that I will be teaching an online course at the Massachusetts College of Art on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Please pardon the self-promotion and any cross-posting, but I thought it was an appropriate announcement for this community.) I’d like to encourage interested members to sign up for some serious fun.
My background: I’ve taught several seminars on the Buffyverse at the Massachusetts College of Art and Emerson College over the past three years. I’ve published two articles on the series at Slayage (which you can find at http://slayageonline.com/
in issues 19 and 22.) I’ve presented articles at a several conferences, including the latest biannual one on the Whedonverses, Charming and Crafty at Harvard University, and for the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations.
What you can expect: The course will give students the rare opportunity study the evolution of a single, long-running series in its entirety. This course will offer you the depth of understanding granted by courses that study the work of a single director. Students will practice a variety of critical approaches on a single subject: genre and auteur theory, cultural studies, and close reading of individual episodes. The goal will be a more complete understanding of the series and its meanings. (Translation: it’s not fanboy, but I do respect the artistry and politics of the series.)
The price of admission: It’s $710. The course materials would be buying a few books, and either renting or purchasing seasons of the series. The start date would be January 29th and it would end on May 7th. You’d get an enriching experience and 3 academic credits.
You can see how to register for “Truths My TV Told Me: Deconstructing Buffy” (CSB 315X-C1) here: http://www.massart.edu/at_massart/academic_prgms/continuing/info/registration/how/
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my Emerson account, which is David_Kociemba “at” emerson “dot” edu.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
was one of the three classic science fiction/fantasy TV shows (the others obviously being The X-Files and Xena) of the 90s that changed the way women were depicted on TV. No just by having strong female characters, but by making female characters the focus of the show – the stories are seen from a female perspective. Scully, Xena, Gabrielle, Buffy and Willow, in their various ways, all defied traditional ideas of how women should behave and what women should want. But did these characters actually blaze a trail for other women characters to follow? What other programs made since then have had equally strong female characters and an equally strong female perspective?
x-posted to buffyfans
I'm reading Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Popular Culture Is Making Us Smarter
by Steven Johnson. One of the points he makes is that modern TV differs from the TV of the past because modern TV shows make so much of their money from syndication and DVD sales rather than from their initial screening. As a result modern TV is made with the knowledge that it’s going to be watched multiple times. So you get episodes of modern TV programs that really can’t be appreciated fully the first time you see them.
Coincidentally I’ve just been re-watching the Season 4 finale Restless
, which I think is a good example of this – there are so many references to things that haven’t happened yet.
x-posted to buffyfans
but it seems so quiet right now :-)
I am not sure if this has been posted before, but a friend of mine just got the Chosen collection (over which i am drooling even though i have all 7 seasons already...). We watched the extra special never before seen footage, which included a roundtable with Joss and some of the cast. If any of you have seen the season 1 episode The Puppet Show with the funny reading of Sophocles' Oedipus at the end, Joss said that the network execs after seeing this episode said to him:
"We know its Shakespeare and everything, but does he *have* to talk about sleeping with his mother?"
Ah how I love people sometimes....as a classics grad student perhaps I find this more amusing than some, but this seemed like the place to bring it up!
My final paper for my Victorian Lit class is due soon, and I'm thinking of making the topic something akin to "'The Sign of Four' and 'Dracula': The effect of Conan Doyle and Stoker's novels on modern popular culture, specifically in television" I hope to examine the (arguably, since Conan Doyle publically admired Poe's writings) original mystery/detective/guy-with-a-sidekick genre and the most popular vampire novel pre-Anne Rice as inspirations for the TV hits "House" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
In my research for the latter half,I was wondering what you all thought of the notion of Buffy has a combination of Mina and Lucy, from "Dracula." Mina is a more studious character, and in her desire to be helpful to her husband, ends up being the key factor in defeating Dracula, the one with the connection to him, the one who plans and who leads to the discovery of how to defeat him. Lucy, on the other hand, is a modern woman, or "New Woman," a woman who is proposed to by three men, and wishes to marry them all. For her "heresy" she is made into a demon and is only purified in death.
Also, I was wondering if anyone knew of any articles (currently available on the web, please) that reference why Joss chose vampires, as opposed to, I don't know, zombies, or five headed chickens. Also, any articles discussing the Season 5 opener "Dracula" would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance for all your help!
I didn't think I'd find anything to write on this quick, but hey.
I've done up a wee critique of this article
in my own journal, called "Darkness, Light and Shadow Selves: A critique." I thought it may have been too long to post in here as is, but figured I'd let people know I wrote one anyway.
.. and was amazed at the quality of writing in this show. I've also been amazed at the number of academic articles that have been written about it, too. I think it's pretty damned cool, frankly, that a "fluff" show can have so much substance when you really get down and look at it.
I see that this isn't a place often posted in, but if I think of stuff as I go through the episodes (yet again) I'll add on. It's nice to find a community that isn't obsessed with fanfic and other silly business.
I've just finished re-watching the final episodes of Season Three - Graduation Day
pts. 1 & 2.
It's a sad moment to see The Mayor, by far my favourite Buffy villain, finally meet his demise. To my mind the Mayor was the most interesting and satisfactory of the villains, not only in comparison to the cardboard evil of such as The Master but also to other 'complex' villains - Adam, the rehashed Frankenstein's Creature, for example.
The Mayor as a figure also seems the most appropriate figure to read as commentary on political leadership in the present-day Western world. The Mayor's ideological arrogance and apocalyptic hubris are not in contradiction to his folksy, apple-pie morality; quite the contrary.
Leaders, as we've seen in recent times, are completely free to lie, cheat and deceive the populace over matters of stateship involving money and death on an international scale. There is no calling to account on these issues. But we demand that their personal lives be entirely upstanding and free of blemish in terms of traditional morality; to be less than perfect on this basis is an impeachable and/or a resigning offence. The Mayor's paternal relationship with Faith is quite genuine, and the human warmth between them is touching, while at the same time they plan the destruction of all those who, not being with them, are against them, those in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Monsters have human sides, too; but that doesn't make their deeds any less monstrous - indeed, perhaps it makes them more so.
episode 4.22, Restless
This is the famous dream episode that concluded Season 4, with virtually the entire episode taking place in dreams. It was like a brief visit to David Lynch World, but I thought it was surprisingly successful. Seeing it again now, knowing what was to happen to these characters later, made it much more powerful than it was the first time I saw it.
Xander’s dream is almost too painful to watch. It’s clear that he has failed to grow up, that he is unprepared for the adult world of responsibility. His sexual fantasies about Joyce, and even more his sexual fantasies about threesomes with Willow and Tara, show that he is quite unable to relate to women in an adult way. He fantasises about Willow and Tara because they’re safe. They’re not interested in him, and nor is Joyce. But he doesn’t fantasise about Anya, and yet she is interested in him, she does love him and she does want him. Clearly this terrifies him. It’s also pretty obvious from the dream that women are a complete mystery to him.
Willow’s dream is the dream of a woman who has had to struggle to establish her own identity and to build up her own confidence. The dream seems to indicate that she is still prey to doubts about her own abilities and her sense of self. It also seems to show that although she is comfortable being a lesbian, she isn’t yet entirely comfortable about being out of the closet about it.
Buffy’s dream seems to be about the price she has to pay for being the Slayer, but it seems to show that she’s already accepted this, and she’s accepted whatever price she may have to pay in future. Giles’s dream seems similar – he has been a surrogate father to Buffy, and he’s happy with that, but he’s given up the chance for a family of his own, and obviously that’s something he would have liked.
It was an extremely bold way to Season 4, but it’s one of my favourite episodes.