Undead TV

Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Undead TV

Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: 40 b&w illustrations Published: November 2007

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Media Studies > TV

When the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired in 2003, fans mourned the death of the hit television series. Yet the show has lived on through syndication, global distribution, DVD release, and merchandising, as well as in the memories of its devoted viewers. Buffy stands out from much entertainment television by offering sharp, provocative commentaries on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and youth. Yet it has also been central to changing trends in television production and reception. As a flagship show for two U.S. “netlets”—the WB and UPN—Buffy helped usher in the “post-network” era, and as the inspiration for an active fan base, it helped drive the proliferation of Web-based fan engagement.

In Undead TV, media studies scholars tackle the Buffy phenomenon and its many afterlives in popular culture, the television industry, the Internet, and academic criticism. Contributors engage with critical issues such as stardom, gender identity, spectatorship, fandom, and intertextuality. Collectively, they reveal how a vampire television series set in a sunny California suburb managed to provide some of the most biting social commentaries on the air while exposing the darker side of American life. By offering detailed engagements with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s celebrity image, science-fiction fanzines, international and “youth” audiences, Buffy tie-in books, and Angel’s body, Undead TV shows how this prime-time drama became a prominent marker of industrial, social, and cultural change.

Contributors. Ian Calcutt, Cynthia Fuchs, Amelie Hastie, Annette Hill, Mary Celeste Kearney, Elana Levine, Allison McCracken, Jason Middleton, Susan Murray, Lisa Parks


“Because of its unique perspective, this pleasurable and thoughtprovoking collection will benefit even the veteran reader of Buffy scholarship, but is accessible not only to layperson fans, but to the (rare) media scholars who have never viewed the show.” — Stephanie Eve Boone, Journal of Popular Culture

“I was incredibly excited to have the chance to read Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and feel like I was doing ‘academic’ work while still obsessing over my favorite show. . . . [T]he articles about media and marketing aspects of TV shows that use Buffy as an example are interesting, and deserve a reading by any Buffy scholar. As Undead TV proves to its readers, a successful TV show becomes great only after it is already dead. But like any Buffy fan knows, when things die, they’re never really dead, and it is in this undead experience that things really start to get interesting.” — Chelsey Clammer, Feminist Review blog

“In a fascinating addition to the ever-increasing body of scholarly, journalistic and fan-fuelled writings on the BtVS phenomenon, the contributors successfully balance their obvious pleasure in the intertextual universe that constitutes the ‘Buffy experience’ with comprehensive critical analyses of the series’ political, social and cultural effects, with rewarding results. . . . When does knowing fandom become merely an academic adjunct to merchandising, and what does this tell us about the production of knowledge in a transmedia era? When executed as elegantly and astutely as in Undead TV, one answer is that commentary can prove as deeply satisfying and thought provoking as its popular source.” — Felicity van Rysbergen, Media International Australia

“It is rare that a scholarly collection of essays on [Buffy the Vampire Slayer] can send me back to the show with anew perspective. But Undead TV is such a book.” — Tricia M. Farwell, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

“This intelligent collection of essays offers a critical commentary on both the ongoing cultural significance of the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and on media and television industries in general. Undead TV makes a great resource for anyone interested in television theory as well as offering fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer an insightful look into the program’s continuingly relevant themes and messages.” — Maryanne Mangano, M/C Reviews

“This is a useful . . . . addition to the body of work on Buffy and other shows.” — Roz Kaveney, TLS

“What distinguishes this collection of essays from the voluminous corpus of existing scholarly work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer–and also creates a sense of internal coherence among the variety of metholodogies and foci offered in the essays themselves–is, quite simply, that this is a book that considers BtVS as television, situating itself within the discipline of television studies. “ — Lucia Blanchet, Scope

"Thoughtful and thorough. . . ." — Maria Raha, Bitch

“Aiming its Mr. Pointy at preconceived ideas about the show, this collection tackles Buffy from cultural, economic, and aesthetic angles. Cancellation has clearly done nothing to blunt the show’s cutting edge. Read it along with Joss Whedon’s new eighth-season comic book and you’ll agree: Buffy is dead—long live Buffy!” — Heather Hendershot, author of Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation before the V-Chip

“Keenly attentive to gender, age, race, and institutional politics, the essays in this collection reverberate with the clarity, cogency, and force of high-quality television studies scholarship. Undead TV is indispensable reading not only for those interested in one of the most important American television series but also for anyone who wants to be informed about the current practices, investments, and prospects of television and other associated media.” — Diane Negra, coeditor of Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elana Levine is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television, also published by Duke University Press.

Lisa Parks is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / Elana Levine and Lisa Parks 1

1. The Changing Face of Teen Television, or Why We All Love Buffy / Mary Celeste Kearney 17

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Crossover Teen Stardom / Susan Murray 43

3. Vampire Hunters: The Scheduling and Reception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel in the United Kingdom / Annette Hill and Ian Calcutt 56

4. The Epistemological Stakes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television Criticism and Marketing Demands / Amelie Hastie 74

5. “Did Anyone Ever Explain to You What ‘Secret Identity’ Means?” Race and Displacement in Buffy and Dark Angel / Cynthia Fuchs 96

6. At Stake: Angel’s Body, Fantasy Masculinity, and Queer Desire in Teen Television / Allison McCracken 116

7. Buffy as Femme Fatale: The Cult Heroine and the Male Spectator / Jason Middleton 145

8. Buffy and the “New Girl Order”: Defining Feminism and Femininity / Elana Levine 168

Bibliography 191

Contributors 197

Index 199
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4043-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4065-2
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