Friday, September 7, 2012

Buffy and the Literary Establishment: Buffy and the Heroine's Journey

Librarything sent me an Early Reviewer copy of Buffy and The Heroine's Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One, by Valerie Estelle Frankel, but unfortunately it got buried under my Summer Reading Program and I've only just finished. I always like reading critical essays on Buffy; it combines the halcyon days of college English class essays with the pop culture phenomenon of a Whedon epic. Frankel's book does a good job of taking both these communities seriously.
The chapters do a good job of explaining the classic steps of the Heroine's Journey, one that differs in many respects from Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, with an eye to the different expectations for a woman. I wish it spent more time locating these expectations in specific cultures rather than assuming that these definitions of feminine and masculine strengths and weaknesses were universal. Also, the Buffy story spans a movie, seven years of television (plus a spin-off) and then a year of comics, so that I never worried about how Frankel would find an example to support almost any thesis she wanted to defend. So the essays had the feeling of undergraduate strength rather than completely persuasive texts. 

I appreciated Frankel's clear language and limited use of academic jargon. It's a book I'll give to my eighth grader if he wants to get a sense of what his essays should start looking like, and since he's a Buffy fan, he'll probably appreciate these examples more than ones on Pride and Prejudice or Moby Dick.

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