Blood, Body and Soul

Essays on Health, Wellness and Disability in Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse

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About the Book

The ever-popular “Whedonverse” television shows—Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse—have inspired hundreds of articles and dozens of books. Curiously, the focus of much of the scholarship invokes philosophical, ethical, metaphysical and other cerebral perspectives. Yet, these shows are action-adventure shows, telling stories through physical bodies of many varied and unique forms. Characters fight and die, suffer grave injuries and traumas, and are physically transformed. Their bodies bear the brunt of their battles against evil, corruption and injustice.

Through 17 insightful and captivating essays, this collection centers the physical spectacle of these televisual series. Chapters examine how both disabled and super-powered individuals navigate their differing levels of ability; how the practice of medicine and medical practitioners are represented; and how wellness is understood and depicted, both physically and mentally. Other essays focus on storylines involving specific body parts, the intersection of literal and metaphorical trauma and the processes of recovery from injury, illness and impairment. Each author offers a unique and thought-provoking analysis in an area previously under-explored or altogether missing from existing scholarship on the Whedonverse.

About the Author(s)

Tamy Burnett, associate director for the University Honors Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, writes about popular culture, especially television, often with a focus on gender and sexuality. She has previously written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The X-Files, and Veronica Mars.

AmiJo Comeford, professor of English at Utah Tech University, writes primarily about popular culture and television and also serves as a university ombudsman. She has previously written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and American Civil War poetry.

Sherry Ginn is a retired educator currently living in North Carolina. She has authored books examining female characters on science fiction television series as well as the multiple television worlds of Joss Whedon. Edited collections have examined sex in science fiction, time travel, the apocalypse, and the award-winning series Farscape, Doctor Who, and Fringe.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Tamy Burnett and AmiJo Comeford. Series Editor Sherry Ginn
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 317
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6763-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4627-5
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Worlds of Whedon

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Tamy Burnett and AmiJo Comeford 1
Part I. Theorizing (Dis)Ability, Medicine, and Wellness
Defining the Whedonverse Disability Narrative Ethic: Examining Impairment Arcs in Dollhouse, Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos 11
Slaying the Deficit in Disability: Exploring Buffy and Firefly/Serenity
Cynthia Headley 28
Angel’s Female Freaks: (Dis)Abilties, Professional, and Personal Life Limitations
Lorna Jowett 42
“The Cliff Notes version? I want a normal life”: Slayerhood as ­Social-Model Disability
Elizabeth K. Switaj 57
Dollhouse and Intellectual Disability
Barbara Stock 72
“I want to be healthy again”: Mental Health and Normality in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Roslyn Weaver 88
Dr. Simon Tam, Healer and Humanist: Medical Models of Health Care in Firefly and Serenity
Brett S. Stifflemire 100
Suffering, Strength, and the Soul of the Slayer
Madeline Muntersbjorn 114
Part II: Bodies, Trauma, and Recovery
“Off with their heads!—Kidding!” The Beheading Topos in Angel’s Pylea
Cynthea Masson 131
Regarding Torture in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Hush”
Erin Hollis 144
“You’re the one who sees everything!” Xander’s Eye Patch and Visible Disability in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Brian Cogan 158
British Vampire, “American Disease”: William the Bloody as Victorian Neurasthenic
J. Bowers 171
Trauma, Technology, and the Affective Body in Firefly and Dollhouse
Emily James Hansen and Katheryn Wright 188
The Token Fatty: Three Whedon Series in Search of a “­Normal-Sized” Woman
Sherry Ginn 201
“It’s about power”: New Bodies, Connection, and Healing in Seasons Six and Seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kelly L. Richardson 212
“Sweetie, your epidermis is showing”: Theorizing Skin in and Through Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Frances Sprout 227
“I’ve got these evil hand issues”: Amputation, Identity, and Agency in Angel
Tamy Burnett 243
Episode Guide 259
Works Cited 281
About the Contributors 297
Index 301