Dr. Edmond Chang
Download the course policies and syllabus (PDF).
"I'm standing on the mouth of hell, and it's going to swallow me whole. And it'll choke on
me...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?"
WHEN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER debuted in 1997, no one could have foreseen the cult following, spinoffs, cultural phenomenon, and critical and scholarly interest it would inspire. In fact, "Buffy Studies" is now an established field that draws on a range of disciplines and perspectives. 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...their multiplicity reflects the polysemic variety of this rich text" (xxvi).
IN HONOR of more than two decades of Buffy, our class will take up some of these critical approaches including media studies, feminism, queer theory, and fandom studies. Given that Joss Whedon has been praised and criticized for his representations of women and characters of color, particularly in light of recent controversies, our class will address the questions "Why Buffy?" and "Why now?" We will explore how might Buffy help us think about the proliferation of the "supernatural romance," about the role of monsters, and about cultural anxieties over race, gender, sexuality, and bodies, analyzing the intersections of identities and embodiments in selected episodes, scholarship, and fan communities.
A REQUIREMENT for this class is a well-developed curiosity and a willingness to explore and interrogate interdisciplinary lines of inquiry. Our class will be organized around a survey of texts engaging scholarship, media, and popular culture. This class will take up everyday culture as critical practice, explore what it means to close read and think critically, and how popular culture can be deployed as theory, as dramatizing the concerns, wonders, struggles, and politics of lived life and experience.
THIS ONLINE COURSE will engage in watching, close reading, guided discussion, and some researching and analytical writing about how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in. You will be required to screen select Buffy episodes (and perhaps other things from the Whedon universe) as the focus of discussion and academic critique. Discussions, papers, and other assignments will be held online via the course website and Blackboard portal.
SPECIFICALLY, our course goals include (the formal junior composition outcomes are in bold, see the course Blackboard for a full listing of the outcomes):
We will write for specific purposes, audiences and situations. To that end, we will develop
and demonstrate a familiarity with a range of texts, terms, and theories of the study of Buffy, feminist
media studies, and popular culture.
WE WILL spend the quarter asking and addressing difficult,
challenging, and sometimes discomforting ideas, questions, and topics, focusing on different
identities, bodies, histories, desires, experiences, and even struggles and violences. Whether
on the page, screen, on campus, or in the community, we will explore and engage multiple perspectives,
levels of familiarity with the material, and heady and heartfelt responses. In other words, our
class will be a safe, respectful, but not necessarily comfortable space. While pushing boundaries
and comfort zones are essential to critical thinking, making connections, and intellectual and
personal freedom, see me with concerns and queries, for reasonable accommodations, and for further
resources on campus.
"...the hardest thing in this world...is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."
"I think it's always important for academics to study popular culture, even if the thing
they are studying is idiotic. If it's successful or made a dent in culture, then it is
worthy of study to find out why."
Required Course Texts & Materials
Access to Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes via Facebook, Hulu, Amazon, or DVD.
Download the course policies and syllabus (PDF).
Requirements & Grading
Your grade should not be the sole exigence or motivation for this class. It is the hope of the course that you walk away from our class with something more. Find some pleasure and some edification and some knowledge from this class (or any class really) and success is usually not far behind. With that in mind, your grade will be a reflection of engagement, effort, close reading, critical thinking, writing, and participation.
Episode Discussion Curation (20%)
You will be a required to sign up twice individually or in pairs to curate an online discussion during the course of the term. For your discussion, you will watch the episodes assigned for a particular week, particularly your assigned episode, articulate two or three main points from the week's scholarly text (as assigned), generate one or two critical questions connecting the texts, and facilitate an online discussion for the week. Curations should have a group presentation plan, a substantive framing post, may include media, and each group member must contribute to the post and discussion.
Episode Discussions (10%)
Each week, you will be required to respond to at least two of the week's episode discussions threads (as generated by the instructor or curation groups). These discussion threads will serve as ways to brainstorm ideas, practice the course goals and outcomes, and to build community and collaboration. Your posts will be graded on completion, engagement with the prompt and readings, and your attention to and interaction with the other posts in the thread.
Short Papers (20%)
Over the course of the semester, you will complete a number of short, analytical, and academic papers. These papers rehearse a range of genres, rhetorical situations, course goals, and engage the 3060J outcomes. You will write an academic summary, a close reading, a brief annotated bibliography, a research proposal memo, a creative response, and a self-assessment cover letter. They will be graded on clarity, focus, coherence, whether they satisfy the assignment, and on your ability to concisely formulate arguments. You will also have the opportunity to improve one of your paper grades through careful revision.
Final Paper/Project (20%)
By the end of the semester, you will complete a Final Project that integrates what you have read, explored, and written about in your previous papers, that draws on specific terms, concepts, or issues from the class, and that articulates the critical value of Buffy and popular culture. The project asks you to make connections and to create an argument across different kinds of evidence and added research. Your final project can be a traditional research paper, a media production (which includes a substantive analytical component), or a hybrid of the two.
Participation and Preparedness (30%)
Preparedness and participation forms a large component of your final grade. It is essential that you prepare for class and regularly participate online. Moreover, negative participation will hurt your participation grade. Participation is determined by 1) your respectful presence in the class forums and interactions with me and others, 2) your willingness to discuss, comment, and ask questions, 3) your preparation for class, which includes having the required materials on hand and doing all of the assigned reading and watching for class, 4) your engagement in collaboration, group work, peer review, and presentations, and 5) your care and daily use of the class Blackboard--henceforth called the "class blog"--bookmark the address, check and comment regularly:
"I, I'm having all sorts of...I'm dating. I, I'm having serious dating with a werewolf. And,
and I'm studying witchcraft and, and killing vampires. And I didn't have anyone to talk to about
all this scary life stuff."
"So here is why I write what I do: We all have futures. We all have pasts. We all have stories.
And we all, every single one of us, no matter who we are and no matter what's been taken from us or
what poison we've internalized or how hard we've had to work to expel it--we all get to dream."
Guidelines for Online Discussion
Students are expected to conduct themselves on the message board, via email and chat, and in the course in compliance with the Ohio University's Student Code of Conduct. Consider the class blog, email, chat, and any other communication as if you were in a face-to-face classroom: the rhetorical, cultural, and social context should dictate what you say, how you say it, and why you say it. In other words, do not do anything you would not do in person: be respectful, patient, professional, open, and generous even as we engage differences in beliefs, opinions, perspectives, and approaches. Please bring any communications you believe to be in violation of this class policy to my attention. Active interaction with me, your peers, and the class materials is essential to success in this online course, paying particular attention to the following:
Students are expected to participate in all graded or required discussions. While there
is great flexibility in online courses, this is not a self-paced course. Minimum, satisfactory
engagement with Blackboard is about 3-4 hours a week.
MLA Paper Formatting
1) 1" margins top, bottom, left, and right on each page.
2) Single-spaced block header on the first page only with your name, date, course, my name:
3) Short, appropriate title.
4) Print single-sided. Papers are double-spaced with paper page numbers in the upper right hand corner; no extra space between paragraphs.
5) Standard Times Roman Font, 12 point only.
6) Correct MLA citation and bibliographic format. A paper turned in without a bibliography automatically fails and will be returned with no comments.
All papers must be typed or produced on a word processor. All documents should be saved in Microsoft Word format (or if necessary Rich Text Format). All papers must follow the manuscript format outlined by the assignment. Unless instructed otherwise, all papers must use MLA citation and documentation conventions. All papers must be neatly printed (in black), single-sided, stapled in the top, left-hand corner if necessary, and not be three-hole punched. Papers that do not follow these format guidelines will not be accepted. They will be returned unread to you. Papers will be regarded as late until they are resubmitted in the proper format.
Always make a backup copy of every paper you turn in, lest you be one of the unhappy people whose paper is eaten by the computer. You may even want to take the precaution of e-mailing your paper to yourself as an attachment during the drafting process and certainly before you exit the document and leave the computer. Or you may want to invest in cloud-based file storage like OneDrive (which all OU students have already have access) or DropBox.
Over the course of the semester, your assignments will receive feedback and comments that will identify what you are doing well and what still needs improvement. Your grades assess your fulfillment of the assignment, the quality of work, detail, analysis, and argumentation, overall effort, and finally, style, polish, and risk taking. Consider the following evaluation rubric as signposts or a kind of legend to your progress and evaluation:
Outstanding (A/A+): Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable demonstration
of the trait(s) associated with the course or assignment goal(s), including some
appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.
All assignments must be done completely and turned in on time. Late assignments will be penalized a letter grade for every day that they are late. So, if your essay is late by one day and you received a B- for your work, then your final grade would be a C-. Moreover, I will not comment on late work. However, you still need to complete late work or you will receive a zero. If you miss the due date of a paper, you must notify me and make arrangements to get the paper to me as soon as possible. Unless previously arranged, I DO NOT accept assignments via email. Remember that a paper has not been officially handed in until it is in my hands. Never turning anything in late is always the best policy.
Download the course policies and syllabus.
Online Instruction and Finding Help
My role in the course, as with any course, is to frame the goals and intellectual conversations of the class, to scaffold readings, assignments, and other tasks, to mentor and moderate projects and discussions, and to assess and grade your work. Given the online nature of the class, I will do my best to engage each and every one of you and the class as a whole in the following ways:
Short videos or "lecturettes," which first let you see a real "live" person who is
professing as professor to the class, and second, are meant to be explanatory, clarifying, and
You can find additional writing and academic help at the Student Writing Center (SWC) on campus, a good resource for this class and other classes. The SWC is located in the Academic Advancement Center (AAC) on the second floor of Alden Library and offers a variety of services including help with reading, papers, brainstorming ideas, and research. See https://www.ohio.edu/uc/aac/swc.cfm to make an appointment and for more information.
Further resources, both on- and off-campus can be found on the Links page of the course website:
All students are required to uphold the highest academic standards. 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 at any time. For our class, plagiarism includes:
a student failing to cite sources of ideas
If you have any doubt about how to cite or acknowledge another's writing, please talk to me. Any plagiarism or academic dishonesty will result in failure of an assignment or of this course. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Please review the Ohio University's Academic Misconduct page at https://www.ohio.edu/communitystandards/academic/students.cfm
Any student who feels they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should see me or contact me in the first week of class to discuss their specific needs and provide written documentation from Student Accessibility Services. If you are not yet registered as a student with a disability, please contact Student Accessibility Services at 740-593-2620 or visit the SAS office in 348 Baker University Center. The SAS website is: https://www.ohio.edu/uc/sas/index.cfm.
Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct
Ohio University and this course are committed to a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment.
Title IX makes clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender is a Civil Rights offense
subject to the same kinds of accountability and support applied to offenses against other protected
categories such as race, national origin, and so on. As your instructor, I am a mandatory reporter
and am required by law to share with the University any information regarding sexual misconduct or
information about a crime that may have occurred on campus. For more information about policies
and resources or confidential reporting options, see the Office of University Equity and Civil
or the Division of Student Affairs
page on Student Conduct & Community Standards:
"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."
"My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it."
"Some of my favorite places I have been in my life exist only in dreams."
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