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December 08 2009

Reviews of Buffy essay collections in scholarly journal. The latest issue of The Journal of Popular Culture has a couple of Buffy-themed reviews which are certainly an interesting read. You need to sign up / be a member of Wiley InterScience to read the whole articles, but can get the gist from the abstracts.

Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television and Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom

The Truth of Buffy: Essays on Fiction Illuminating Reality

I've noted a number of Whedon-themes articles in the title in the past and thought it worth pointing out as they are usually an excellent, thought provoking read.

If you register, you still have to pay for the downloads. I am going to see if I can get them via our interlibrary loan, though.
Before anyone goes to to the trouble of joining and paying whatever fees might be involved, the two Buffy specific items in the index are both reviews not full articles. Ah the joys of having "most wired university" with super duper library facilities, yes,I am spoiled.
So the "articles" are reviews of two books with those titles ? Good to know (probably won't bother with the reviews but it's a heads up that the books exist at least and by their titles they sound quite interesting).
I tweeked the entry to avoid any potential confusion.
As I still have some magical university access going on, I had a quick read through the two reviews.

The reviewers sum up "The Truth of Buffy" as:
This collection of fifteen critical articles centers on the ways in which Buffy’s life and the lives of the characters on the series provided information to the audience and help them (the audience) understand their own lives.

The articles are described as "interesting and readable" and "appealing and clever", though the reviewer seems a bit disappointed that the articles are fairly short and don't go into as much depth as she would like.

I really like the premise of "Buffy Goes Dark" according to this review:
Buffy’s sixth and seventh seasons are often taken as evidence for the notion that even the most innovative television programs will eventually jump the shark. After a dramatic fifth season finale on theWB—in which Buffy sacrificed herself to save the universe—the show moved to rival network UPN and creator Joss Whedon began sharing executive producer responsibilities. Buffy got a job at a fast-food restaurant; the villains were a trio of nerds (the Troika) and adult life itself; and Buffy’s kid sister Dawn wasn’t the only character who moped constantly. Things weren’t much cheerier in Season Seven. But Edwards, Rambo, and South, who ‘‘actually like Buffy’s UPN seasons a lot’’ (6), have decided it’s time these forty-four episodes had their day in court.

Mod-blessed, looks like the thread stays. Glad I didn't confess to anything incriminating now.

And actually, is it three books ? Looks like it might be. Jeez, how can there be so much to say about a teen-soap featuring a cheerleader ?

Entirely my bad - should have noted they were reviews. The Journal itself has had some great articles on Joss' creations in the past. A particular good article ran in the last issue, where Angel was held up as an example of the modern day detective. I'll keep an eye open for free content in future and keep in mind that not everyone has access to this content through libraries / schools.
I can't post a link to my own page on the frontpage, but perhaps in a comment? Just to let you know that I'm trying to keep track of all books etc about Whedon shows here:
I haven't read these new ones yet, though.
Saje, no need to run. You are a regular here, are you not?

Always interested in your thoughts.
This made me chuckle:

(who, along with Rambo, is one of two authors contributing to both collections)

Anyway yes it is three books reviewed (I have Uni library access). Here are review reviews:

The first book "Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television" sounds quite interesting, apparently there are articles about the "monomyth structure" of series 6 which necessitates a dark period of hopelessness and self-doubt between Buffy's key life moments of death and realising she wants to live again, also opposing articles dealing with the dead-lesbian-lover-evil cliche thing, and an article dealing with the change in verbal styles in the the last seasons (eg. less flip and witty).

Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom is the second book. There's some essays by an ethnographer who did participant observation in the Bronze forum (I'm assuming they mean the one that was popular ages ago so I felt it might be a bit outdated) and profiled three of the most prominent members of that forum. Also an interesting look at the dark side of fandom using Andrew as a meta example of when fandom can go bad and how Andrew's use of popculture narratives in his own life affected his brain and were why he was so easily manipulated into murder (obvs. more extreme than your average Whedonesque poster....we hope).

Both are recommended heartily by the reviewer.

The third book The Truth of Buffy: Essays on Fiction Illuminating Reality seems to be less focussed on one specific area of Buffy, like more of a broad brush strokes intro to Buffy studies dealio (which for me is less interesting). Stuff covering stereotyping, the soul in Whedonverse, music, Brechtian drama. The reviewer does criticise it for being a bit short. The following quote from the review about one of the articles actually sounds incredibly familiar, like I might have read a really similar article before a long time ago:

Jim Ford’s investigation of Buffy’s search for happiness ... asks the reader to contemplate the differences between a ‘‘desirable’’ life and an ‘‘admirable’’ life.

Yeah so, generally got the feeling that the first two are good if you're a Buffy obsessive already but the second, while having some interesting topics, is not covering any astounding new ground and should be treated more as an introductory text. In my humble opinion.

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