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. 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?"
WHEN JOSS WHEDON'S Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show 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. 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).
OUR CLASS will take up some of these critical approaches including film and media studies, feminism, queer theory, cultural studies, and fandom studies. In other words, why Buffy and why is Buffy important? Given that Whedon has been praised and criticized for his representations of women and characters of color, this class will explore and analyze the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, 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 class will spend the semester reading, thinking, watching, discussing, researching, playing, and writing about various narratives and how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in.
SPECIFICALLY, our course goals include:
We will develop and demonstrate a familiarity with a range of texts, terms, and theories of the study of Buffy, television, 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
Discussion Curation (20%)
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.
Critical Essay & Episode Discussion Curation (20%)
You will be a required to sign up in small groups 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 two or three critical questions connecting the texts, and facilitate an online discussion for the week. Curations should have a substantive framing post, may include media, and each group member must contribute to the post and discussion.
Weekly Synthesis Essays (40%)
You will be required to write two to three formal papers, each 4-6 pages in length, that engage and connect the week's episodes and the theoretical and scholarly texts of the class. Papers will be collected at the end of each week. You must complete a minimum of two papers to a maximum of three. Each paper will be graded and the average of the number completed will constitute 40% of your final grade.
Critical Review (10%)
You will be required to write a short, 500-600 word, single-spaced critical review of a text not covered by the course that you believe fits the critical, theoretical, and intellectual stakes of this class. You will locate a text, close read the text, and generate an academic critique and assessment of the text's value for study. In other words, what text might you include in a class like ours? You must have your text approved by the instructor. The critical review will be turned in and published on the course blog and is due by the last day of instruction.
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, and presentations, and 5) your care and daily use of the class Canvas--henceforth called the "class blog"--bookmark the address, check and comment regularly, think of the blog as an extension of class:
"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."
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 University of Oregon's Student Conduct Code. 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 discussions. While there is great
flexibility in online courses, this is not a self-paced course.
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) 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; if you do not have access to Word, then save your documents in PDF or Rich Text Format (RTF).
All papers must follow the manuscript format outlined by the assignment. 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. Response Papers and the Critical Review have different manuscript guidelines detailed by their assignment prompts.
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 at least a couple of times during the drafting process and certainly BEFORE you exit the document for the last time and leave the computer. This way, even if you lose your flash drive or your paper gets mysteriously erased, you still have a copy in your e-mail files.
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.
Virtual Office Hours:
Download the course policies and syllabus.
I will be available electronically by email, course blog, and virtual office hours. Email and the blog are the best means of contacting me. I will do my best to answer your emails and blog posts, usually within twenty-four hours. I will also hold virtual office hours via Canvas chat twice a week; virtual office hours are posted in the sidebar. Please note that Canvas chat is public to the entire class and allows for group discussions. If you would like to converse with me individually, you can use AOL Instant Messenger or Google Talk (nickname: EDagogy). If you are not able to attend virtual office hours, email me your availability to set up an appointment, and I will do my best to accommodate your schedule. Otherwise, if you see that I am logged in to chat or instant messenger, 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 me; also, be patient because my responses may not be immediate.
Further resources, both on- and off-campus can be found on the Links page of the course website: http://www.edmondchang.com/courses/361/links.html.
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 this course. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Please review the University of Oregon's Guidelines for Plagiarism at http://libweb.uoregon.edu/guides/plagiarism/students/.
Please let me know in the first week of class if you require academic accommodations based on a disability registered with Accessible Education Services. The University of Oregon is an inclusive learning environment. For more information, contact the Accessible Education Center (formerly Disability Services) in 164 Oregon Hall at 541-346-1155 or http://aec.uoregon.edu/.
Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct
The University of Oregon is committed to ensuring that all students have access to a quality learning experience
and the opportunity to pursue their academic goals in a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment. Any
form of sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and gender-based stalking and bullying is contrary
to the community values of the institution. Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and
gender is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied
to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, and so on. As your instructor, I have
a mandatory reporting responsibility 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 Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity:
or the Dean of Students' 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."
"If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities."
© 2015-16 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 ED(MOND)CHANG(ED)AGOGY, the academic, professional, and creative website of Edmond Y. Chang.