WHEN JOSS WHEDON'S Buffy the Vampire Slayer television debuted in 1997, no one could have foreseen the cult following, the spinoffs, the cultural phenomenon, and the critical and scholarly interest it would inspire. Now, over a decade later, "Buffy Studies" is an established field that draws on a range of disciplines and perspectives. Our focus group will take up some of these critical approaches including film and genre studies, Victorian studies, feminism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and queer theory. Our goal is to address the critical question "Why Buffy?" and how might Buffy help us think about the recent resurgence of vampire culture, about the role of monsters, and about cultural anxieties over the body, the self, and the Other. Overall, we hope to explore in general the value of examining pop culture.

AS RHONDA V. WILCOX AND DAVID LAVERY say in their introduction to Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2002), "The many meanings of Buffy are reflected in [s]cholars from English, communications, women's studies, sociology, religion, and other fields...[who] present their different perspectives, sometimes analyzing the series and lines in radically different fashion, from cultural studies to Jungian analysis, from problematizing to praise. [We] have chosen such a various group with a purpose: their multiplicity reflects the polysemic variety of this rich text" (xxvi).

THE COURSE will meet once a week for 2 hours to engage in watching, reading, guided discussion, and some reflective writing. Our focus group will screen select Buffy episodes (and perhaps other things from the Whedon universe) as the focus of discussion. Students will be asked to participate in discussions both in class and online including brief weekly responses and an in-class presentation.
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CHID 496 G
12:30-2:20 PM
MGH 248
Winter 2011
Ed Chang and Jane Lee
University of Washington

Required Course Texts & Materials

• Download the PDF of the course policies and syllabus.
• Readings available via e-reserve.
• Read discussions on the class blog.
• Web access and an active UW email account.

Readings & Texts

DeKelb-Rittenhouse, Diane. "Sex and the Single Vampire: The Evolution of the Vampire Lothario and Its Representation in Buffy." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 143-152.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Helford, Elyce Ray. "'My Emotions Give Me Power': The Containment of Girls' Anger in Buffy." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 18-34.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Jowett, Lorna. "Introduction" & "Conclusion." Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2005. 1-17. 191-198.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Keller, Donald. "Spirit Guides and Shadow Selves: From the Dream Life of Buffy (and Faith)." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 165-177.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Mendlesohn, Farah. "Surpassing the Love of Vampires; or, Why (and How) a Queer Reading of the Buffy/Willow Relationship Is Denied." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 45-60.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Overbey, Karen Eileen and Lahney Preston-Matto. "Staking in Tongues: Speech Act as Weapon in Buffy." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 73-84.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Pender, Patricia. "'I'm Buffy, and You're...History': The Postmodern Politics of Buffy." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 35-44.      (Available via UW e-reserve).

Wilcox, Rhonda V. and David Lavery. "Introduction." Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire slayer. Eds. Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. xvii-xxix.      (Available via UW e-reserve).
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Episode List

Click on the link to go to a synopsis.

1.1 "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
2.7 "Lie to Me"
2.17 "Passion"
3.11 "Gingerbread"
3.13 "The Zeppo"
3.14 "Bad Girls"
4.10 "Hush"
5.7 "Fool for Love"
5.16 "The Body"
6.7 "Once More With Feeling"

"...the hardest thing in this world...is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."


Requirements & Grading

What is a focus group? Focus groups provide a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to design and lead a class. Focus groups allow students with common interests to create a space to discuss topics which may not be covered elsewhere in the UW undergraduate curricula. As with all CHID courses, all students participating in focus groups are expected to engage topics critically, respectfully, and from varying perspectives.

What are they not? Focus groups are not spaces for students to promote one particular point of view. While students can take on one idea or concept, this topic should be explored from multiple vantage points. Focus groups should not depart from CHID's guiding philosophy that "the questions are the content." Focus groups are about critical scrutiny, not about ideological imposition.

This class is graded on a credit/no credit basis. All assignments must be satisfactorily completed, and you may not have more than two un-excused absences in order to get credit for this class.

Class Blog and In-Class Presentation (50%)

The majority of the writing you will do for this class is in the form of weekly short, critical, analytical response entries to the class blog: https://catalyst.uw.edu/gopost/board/changed/19915/. These single-spaced, 500-1000 word writings serve as reactions to, close readings of, and analyses of the episodes, texts, and the connections you see, read, and talk about in class. These blog posts are more than just summaries or personal reactions and will be graded on clarity, coherence, critique, and how well you concisely formulate arguments. Response entries are due weekly.

Also, by the end of the quarter, you will have practiced and performed what it means to close read Buffy and the texts at hand. You will be required to present on (most likely as a group) a topic of your choosing. These critical presentations will demonstrate what you have learned from and experienced in the class. Presentations will be 8-10 minutes.

Participation and Preparedness (50%)

Preparedness and participation forms a large component of your final grade. It is essential that you prepare for class, attend class, and participate. Missing class may seriously compromise your ability to do well in this class. Again, negative participation will hurt your participation grade. Participation is determined by:

1. your respectful presence in class,
2. your willingness to discuss, comment, and ask questions,
3. your preparation for class, which includes bringing required materials to class and doing all of the assigned reading for class,
4. your engagement in group work,
5. your contribution to the class blog:
6. and your interactions with us and other students.

Finally, failure to turn in homework, incomplete assignments, or late papers will negatively impact your participation grade.


Attendance is strongly recommended. If you are absent, you miss the explanation of an assignment, the discussion of a reading, the chance to play and participate, and overall, the class as a community of learning. Also, you are expected to be in class on time. Class will start immediately at the appointed time. In the first minutes of class we may make important announcements, establish the agenda for the class meeting, begin immediately with an important lesson, or field questions. If you come in after we start class, even by only a few minutes, you are late and we will mark you as such. Chronic or conspicuous attendance problems will negatively affect your credit for the class. If you know you are going to miss class, please let us know ahead of time (via email), if you can, and we will make any necessary arrangements. And when you do miss class, always find another student to get class notes and see me in order to make up missed work in a timely manner.
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"For a thousand years I wielded the powers of the Wish. I brought ruin to the heads of unfaithful men. I brought forth destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshipped across the mortal globe. And now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High. Mortal. Child. And I'm flunking Math."


"I'm standing on the mouth of hell, and it's going to swallow me whole. And it'll choke on me. We’re not ready? They're not ready. They think we're gonna wait for the end to come, like we always do. I’m done waiting. They want an apocalypse? Oh, we’ll give ’em one. Anyone else who wants to run...do it now. Because we just became an army. We just declared war. From now on we won’t just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them and cut out their hearts one by one until the First shows itself for what it really is. And I’ll kill it myself. There’s only one thing on this earth more powerful than evil. And that’s us. Any questions?"


Finding Help

We are available by appointment to help you. We encourage you to come see us early in the quarter even if it is just to talk about the class, about the assignments, or about school in general. We may ask you to meet with us when we think a conference would be useful. Ed’s office is located in B33 Padelford Hall Jane’s office is located in Art 351. See map below.

We are also available electronically by email and the course blog. Email and the blog are the best means of contacting us. We will do our best to answer your emails and blog posts, usually within twenty-four hours. If there is an emergency and you need to reach us, please contact the CHID office in B-102 Padelford.

Ed is also available for virtual hours via instant messenger. Ed uses AOL Instant Messenger or Google Talk (AIM & Gtalk nickname: EDagogy). If he is logged in, during reasonable hours, you are more than welcome to discuss the class or ask questions. Please, when you initiate an IM conversation for the first time, please identify yourself to him--be polite and respectful--and please be patient because our responses may not be immediate.
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Contact Ed

B33 Padelford
Office Hours:
or by appointment
changed @ u.
AIM or Google Talk:

Contact Jane

351 Art
Office Hours:
or by appointment
jlee33 @ u.

Download the PDF of the course policies and syllabus.

Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing -- as long as you cite them. Many students do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes plagiarism, so feel free to ask questions about these matters at any time. Plagiarism includes:

• a student failing to cite sources of ideas
• a student failing to cite sources of paraphrased material
• a student failing to site sources of specific language and/or passages
• a student submitting someone else's work as his or her own
• a student submitting his or her own work produced for another class

If you have any doubt about how to cite or acknowledge another's writing, please talk to me. It is always better to be safe than sorry. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review. For further information, please refer to UW's Student Conduct Code at http://www.washington.edu/students/handbook/conduct.html. Play it smart, don't plagiarize!


If you have a registered disability that will require accommodation, please see me immediately. If you have a disability and have not yet registered it with Disability Resources for Students in 448 Schmitz Hall, you should do so immediately. Please contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (Voice) or 206-543-8925 (V/TTY) or 206-616-8379 (FAX) or via their website at http://www.washington.edu/admin/ada/dss.htm. I will gladly do my best to provide appropriate accommodation you require.

UW SafeCampus

Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone. For more information visit the SafeCampus website at http://www.washington.edu/safecampus and keep the following in mind:

• Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
• Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
• Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
• Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at http://www.washington.edu/alert.
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"I've been awake all night. I know I'm supposed to teach you self-reliance, but I can't leave you out there to fight alone. To hell with what's right, I'm ready to back you up. Let's find the evil a-and fight it together."


© 2007-11 Edmond Chang. All original material. All rights reserved. Contact the webmaster of this site. These pages are best viewed with Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. Open your browser to the largest viewable area. These pages are hosted by the University of Washington Computing & Communications system.