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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media

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Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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From Byron to Buffy: The Shifting Dynamic of Gender and its Agency in Print, Film and Television

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Abstract: This essay seeks to articulate and contextualise the way gender and transgression have been presented in printed vampire texts and in more recent movie and TV texts. Throughout I focus on how patriarchal values and manoeuvres are worked into and confronted by these texts. I firstly consider two print texts, John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). I then briefly examine the significance of two feature films – Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula and Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer – both 1992 movies. My remaining discussion is on Whedon’s hit American TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003). Empowered female characters feature in Dracula and Buffy movies, but only the Buffy TV Series has provided the scope (144 episodes) for tangling in depth over time with variously dramatized forms of exorbitance: sexual desire, gender, authority, power. Taking seriously the idea that the supernatural elements in the Series are metaphors for personal anxieties associated with adolescence and young adulthood, I then consider these features in two contexts: Whedon’s target teenage viewing audience, and how the notion of cultural ‘rites of passage’ can usefully be applied to the 7-season Series. I figure the experiential shifts experienced by ‘participating’ long-term teenage and young adult viewers of the Buffy TV Series who embrace the dramatized onscreen demonic challenges can be seen as a moral learning opportunity of value. The evaluative approach taken by Whedon is inescapably feminist and equalitarian.

Keywords: Buffy, Gender, Adolescence, TV series, Vampire

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