Joss Whedon as Shakespearean Moralist

Narrative Ethics of the Bard and the Buffyverse


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About the Book

Drawing on the works of Shakespeare and American screenwriter Joss Whedon, this study in narrative ethics contends that Whedon is the Shakespeare of our time. The Bard wrote before the influence of the modern moral philosophers, while Whedon is writing in the postmodern period. It is argued that Whedon’s work is more in harmony with the early modern values of Shakespeare than with modern ethics, which trace their origin to 17th and 18th century moral philosophy. This study includes a detailed discussion of representative works of Shakespeare and Whedon, showing how they can and should be read as forms of narrative ethics.

About the Author(s)

J. Douglas Rabb is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and an executive member of the Centre for Health Care Ethics, also at Lakehead University.
J. Michael Richardson is a professor of English at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. A specialist in Early Modern Literature, he has written a number of articles on Shakespeare and popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

J. Douglas Rabb and J. Michael Richardson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7440-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1786-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Foreword by Kim Fedderson 1

Introduction 5

One—Joss Whedon, the Shakespeare for Our Time 11

Two—Shakespeare’s Brain and Whedon’s Brains: Cognitive Theory in Narrative and Ethics 28

Three—Joss Whedon’s “Big Brain”: The Espenson Authorship Controversy 55

Four—Shakespeare and Popular Culture: Uses and Echos of the Bard in the Whedonverses and Ours as Well 83

Five—Persons, Personation and Character Development: The Transformative Nature of Narrative 102

Six—The Moral Imagination in Shakespeare: ­Pre-Modern and Early Modern Ethics 127

Seven—The Moral Imagination in Whedon: ­Post-Modern and ­Post-Christian Love Ethics 147

Eight—Reason and Rules in Ethics: The Parfit Pathology 162

Conclusion: Narrative Ethics in Action 178

Works Cited 201

Index 213

Book Reviews & Awards

“This book makes a compelling argument that Joss Whedon…is the Shakespeare of our time. They consider representative works from each author and draw important parallels through the narrative ethics. Fans of Whedon and literary scholars will both find this book an informative and interesting read”—ProtoView.