Where Do We Go From Here?: A Look at Female Heroes in a Post-Buffy Context – The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverse, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here?: A Look at Female Heroes in a Post-Buffy Context
The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverse – Gordon College, Barnesville, Georgia

In May of 2006, Ms. Stuller will join 150 other scholars, convening from five countries, in Barnesville, Georgia for the second Slayage Conference on the Whedonverse. Organized by Rhonda Wilcox and David Lavery, coeditors of Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer andSlayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, and sponsored by Gordon College and Middle Tennessee State University, this conference will be dedicated to the imaginative universe of Joss Whedon—known as the Jossverse or Whedonverse—and will be held on the campus of Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia, May 26-28, 2006.

Abstract:

This paper will look at the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as a seminal point in popular culture and in the representation of complex feminine heroes. It will also investigate the impact of BTVS on gender and heroism in subsequent myths.

Writer Steven Johnson argues in his recent work, “Everything Bad Is Good For You” that popular culture is making us smarter — is it also making us more socially conscious? Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has stated that changing culture can only be done through popular mediums — did Buffy change culture?

From Princess Diana to Buffy, and Emma Peel to Sydney Bristow; the female hero in modern mythology has broken through the ink-stained ceiling of the traditional masculine superhero for brief shining moments in popular culture. What sparks these shining moments? And why do they appear so many years apart?

It seems as though Buffy was part of a larger pattern that consists of feminist surge, popular effect, copycat and then backlash. And though the “Buffyverse” prompted many copycat characters, has the series really changed anything in the way that men and women are represented in popular culture? For every evolution is there also a devolution? Was BTVS simply part of a zeitgeist — her presence on television being the result of late 1990’s Grrl Power? Where are female heroes now? What’s percolating?

As various popular mediums increasingly influence each other, I will look at post-Buffy female heroes to see how modern myth has (and has not) been complicated by the phenomenon of BTVS. My sources will include film, television, comics, media-based articles, academic texts, particularly in the growing field of Buffy Studies but also in the in the fields of comparative media studies, cultural theory, psychology and women studies; audience reception interviews with women (matriarchal, peer and younger) and people who are currently creating or contributing to modern mythology.

 

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