Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Buffy' Inspires 4-Day Conference; Academics Assemble to Discuss TV Series' Impact on Culture

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Buffy' Inspires 4-Day Conference; Academics Assemble to Discuss TV Series' Impact on Culture

Article excerpt


ST. AUGUSTINE - The legacies of history's most influential heroines live on long after they're gone.

Statues of Joan of Arc are planted in public parks across the globe. Susan B. Anthony's likeness is emblazoned on coins. And even after vacating the airwaves seven years ago, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" still occupies the imaginations of legion.

That's abundantly clear in St. Augustine this weekend, where more than a hundred academics have massed to discuss the life and times of the supernatural TV character and her rogue's gallery of evil-doers.

Flagler College is hosting the four-day conference, which includes presentations and lectures from an international assortment of scholars.

Jim Wilson, a Flagler English professor and conference coordinator, said the event's full title - The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses 4 - is a mouthful. But it couldn't be narrowed down to just Buffy.

"She might be the biggest star, but her creator, Joss Whedon, is the man of the hour," Wilson said.

Whedon also created "Angel," a "Buffy" spinoff featuring a vampire with a soul, and "Firefly," an ensemble drama set in space that borrowed heavily from Western movies.

Whedon's body of work has inspired millions of fans through his creative use of dialogue and inventive storytelling. Academics have also latched onto his shows as potential teaching tools for their use of dramatic archetypes and dense mythology.

Wilson said his wife, Tamara, another Flagler English professor, turned him on to Whedon's work. They've both used examples from the shows in their classrooms.

"His storytelling and how it relates to our world, it resonates with students," she said. "The classics are great. But pop culture crosses boundaries in and out of the classroom."

That's the mantra of the Slayage Conference. The biennial event unites gray-haired and tenured career academics with youthful independent scholars for a probing look into the Whedonverse. Despite all the analysis of his work, Whedon has yet to make an appearance at any of the previous conferences.

This year's presentation titles ranged from the sexual - "The girl needs a little monster in her man" - to the strangely topical - "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. …

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