Re-Entering the Dollhouse

Essays on the Joss Whedon Series


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SKU: 9781476679907 Categories: , , ,
Imprint or Series:Worlds of Whedon

About the Book

Premiering on Fox in 2009, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse was an innovative, contentious and short-lived science fiction series whose themes were challenging for viewers from the outset. A vast global corporation operates establishments (Dollhouses) that program individuals with temporary personalities and abilities. The protagonist assumes a different identity each episode—her defining characteristic a lack of individuality. Through this obtuse premise, the show interrogated free will, morality and sex, and in the process its own construction of fantasy and its audience. A decade on, the world is—for better or worse—catching up with Dollhouse’s provocative vision. This collection of new essays examines the series’ relevance in the context of today’s social and political issues and media landscape.

About the Author(s)

Heather M. Porter is a Los Angeles based television producer and independent scholar.

Michael Starr is an associate professor in film and screen studies at the University of Northampton, United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Heather M. Porter and Michael Starr
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 302
Bibliographic Info: appendixes, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7990-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4569-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Worlds of Whedon

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction: Welcome to the Future
Michael Starr and Heather M. Porter 1
Part I: Society and Self
“Now that we have a black president”: White Feminism, ­Post-Raciality, and the Curious Case of Boyd Langton
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos 13
“The body doesn’t matter, it’s the mind that we want”: Examining and Critiquing Contemporary Socioeconomic and -political Structures Through Rossum and the Framework
Erin M. Giannini 27
Ripley, Alice, and Echo: Corporate Malfeasance and the Female Body
Sherry Ginn 41
“We’re also misunderstood, which great humanitarians often are”: Examining the Intelligence and Wisdom of the Mad Scientist Topher Brink
Heather M. Porter 56
Part II: Philosophy and Technology
Earning a Place on the Ark: Evolution, Ethics, and Epitaphs
Madeline Muntersbjorn 75
From Androids to Actives: Death of Identity and the Legacy of Technicism
Thomas D. Parham III 91
Agencied Objects: Locations of the Technodomestic ­Object-I in the Whedonverses
Juliette C. Kitchens 106
“How does it feel to end the world?”: The Dark Ecology of the Dollhouse
Michael Starr 122
Part III: Form and Function
What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You? Constructive Omissions in the Title Music
Janet K. Halfyard 143
Friday Night Rites: The Posthuman Hero’s Tale in the Television Narrative
Devon E. Anderson 159
“You cannot possibly stop them alone”: The Formula Conspiracy Story, the Monomyth, and Whedon’s Complicated Heroics
Stephen G. Melvin 175
“Tell me about the Dollhouse”: The Impact of Promotional Paratexts on Audience Reception
Tanya R. Cochran 190
Part IV: Influences and Allusions
“I’m awake now”: Female Cyborgs, ­Self-Awareness, and (Qualified?) Rebellion in Dollhouse and Westworld
Eve Bennett 209
“To grow, we all need to suffer”: Memory and Trauma as the Path to Personhood
Jeana Jorgensen and Keegan L. Mills 224
Lost, Not Gone: The Haunted (Doll)House
Catherine Pugh 240
Pod People, Zombies, Dolls: Fear and Anxiety in I Am Legend, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Dollhouse
Charmaine Tanti 256
Appendix 1: Dollhouse Episode List 271
Appendix 2: Westworld Episode List, Cited in Text 273
Appendix 3: Whedon Television Episode List, Cited in Text 275
Appendix 4: Whedon Filmography, Cited in Text 278
About the Contributors 279
Index 283

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “[T]his collection is a welcome addition to Whedon studies in general and to the study of [the] often-neglected series Dollhouse in particular.”—Elizabeth L. Rambo, associate professor of English, Campbell University