Seers, Witches and Psychics on Screen

An Analysis of Women Visionary Characters in Recent Television and Film

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About the Book

This book addresses the pervasive representation of women with unique visionary abilities in postfeminist television series and films from the 1990s to the present. These women mediate between the living and the dead or between different worlds of experience, redefining what it means to be “normal” and challenging the traditional boundary between science and the inner world of visionary, mystical experience.

Part 1 includes a discussion of modern-day Cassandra figures, including the witches and other “seers” of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Charmed, Hex, and Tru Calling. Part 2 discusses modern television shows whose main characters represent a contemporary spin on Joan of Arc, including Joan of Arcadia and the short-lived Wonderfalls. Finally, Part 3 investigates female mediums and other “psychic detectives” in reality television series such as Psychic Investigators and Rescue Mediums; the popular television dramas Medium, Ghost Whisperer, and Afterlife; and contemporary films such as Ghost, The Gift, and Premonition.

About the Author(s)

Karin Beeler is the English department chair at the University of Northern British Columbia in Canada. She has published in various areas of film and television studies, including screen culture for children.

Bibliographic Details

Karin Beeler

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: 7 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3346-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5221-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Introduction      1

Part 1. Postfeminist Cassandras: Seers, “Witches” and Women Who Know the Future
ONE. Cheerleader/Seer: The Hybrid Visions of Cordelia Chase in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel      25
TWO. The Transformation of River Tam: Psychic Warrior, Female Prodigy and Anti-Hero in Firefly and Serenity      38
THREE. Phoebe and the Power of Sight: The Witch as Seer in Charmed      49
FOUR. Visions of the “Mad” Outsider in Hex: Cassandra, Witches and Lesbian Appetite      61
FIVE. Postfeminist Savior: Seeing the Future and Reliving the Day in Tru Calling      70

Part 2. Joan of Arc in Contemporary Television: Images of a Reluctant Seer
SIX. Teen Visions of God: Postfeminist Heroism and Genre Crossing in Joan of Arcadia      83
SEVEN. Joan of Arc in Niagara Falls: Signs of a Seer and Cross-Cultural Contact in Wonderfalls      93

Part 3. Investigating the Dead: Mediums and Psychic Detectives
EIGHT. Psychic Women, “Dead” Men and the Search for Truth: Cross-Gender Communication in Ghost, The Gift and Premonition      107
NINE. Rescue Mediums and Psychic Investigators: Television for Women and Paranormal Programming      124
TEN. Resisting the Myth of the Bad Mother: Psychic Visions and Maternal Anxiety in NBC’s Medium      138
ELEVEN. Looking for Closure: Investigating Mothers, Daughters and Disease in Ghost Whisperer      151
TWELVE. A Medium’s Visions of a Third Space: Finding Family in the U.K. Series Afterlife      165

Conclusion      177
Chapter Notes      181
Bibliography      195
Index      203

Book Reviews & Awards

“accessible and readable for researchers and undergraduates alike”—Critical Studies in Television.