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Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  696 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Rhonda Wilcox is the world's foremost authority on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its characters, and its themes. Wilcox argues that Buffy is enduring as art by exploring its excellence in both long-term story arc construction and in producing individual episodes that are powerful on their own. She examines the larger patterns that extend through all seven seasons: the hero myt ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 10th 2005 by I. B. Tauris (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jul 11, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vampires, non-fiction
The cover doesn't lie, this book is for any Buffy fan who likes to get into the deeper allusions and mythology within the show.

Wilcox's compilation contains essays that she presented as convention lectures around the world. The first half of the book has a "broad focus" on continuing themes in the series, and how particular parts of the story follow literary patterns or match other real world phenomena (such as a great chapter comparing Buffy and Harry P!). The second half contains a "tight focu
Oct 14, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You shouldn't read this book unless you've watched all 7 seasons of Buffy -- too many spoilers! However, there are no spoilers in this review.

Buffy studies seems to be my intellectual hobby, and this book is my favorite. In the first half, Wilcox analyzes five or six themes in the show, including the link between sexuality and redemption, naming, and globalization. One of the most interesting essays discussed the metaphor of light as harsh and painful for Buffy in later seasons as well as (obvio
---> Note: you should read this book after watching season 1-7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since the book contains A LOT OF spoilers. My review will also contain parts of the book. If you haven't watched BTVS I recommend you strongly to do so, because it's the best show ever. <3

-- REVIEW --

Wow... this was a journey. I learned new things, discovered new books to read, got a new perspective on the series etc. If you're a Buffy-lover like me, you should really read this one! Rhonda Wilcox di
Jan 31, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Readable, entertaining, thought-provoking, and well-researched, this book provides 12 essays on Buffy. The first half of the book deals with larger themes while the second half focuses in on specific episodes. Although each essay is adapted from an earlier presentation or paper, there is still a strong continuity to the essays. I think perhaps a final conclusionary note tying things together would have made it a bit more cohesive, but a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Sep 17, 2015 Lida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really comprehensive intro to the incredibly geeky "cult discipline" known as Buffy Studies.
Rhonda V. Wilcox is the founder of Slayage, the Buffy/Joss Whedon-focused academic journal.
Overall, Wilcox drew my attention to interesting parallels and questions I hadn't contemplated. Her overall approach is heavily Freudian/psychoanalytic, but the symbolism in Buffy IS really Freudian, so I'm not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing.
Apr 16, 2012 Alaa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best essays I have ever read about TV shows! I'm just being lazy picking up adjectives to describe the book instead of writing a whole review.I wish if Wilcox focused more about Willow and Tara, though. I felt like I was scratching the pages searching for little hints about them. Chapter 10 and 12 are my favorites, of course because they give account to Willow and Tara(>.<)
Apr 17, 2008 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful analysis of the series. Wilcox greatly argues the validity of "Buffy" as art. The first half takes a look at concepts on the show. The second half explores 5 episodes in detail: Surprise/Innocence, The Zeppo, Hush, Restless, and the Body.
Kim Berkey
Oct 07, 2013 Kim Berkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So fun! My husband and I are officially swearing off television because nothing will ever again be as good as Buffy. This book made a nice companion to our slavish fandom.
Morgan Taylor
Oct 08, 2014 Morgan Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the deep analysis of my newfound Buffy obsession. I did, however, find the author to be reaching a little bit too much sometimes. Some of the topics interested me less than others, but those topics that did tie into the aspects of Buffy that I am more interested in were really fun for me to read. Random side note: just in my own personal opinion, she focused way too much on phallic symbols.

That being said, I did really enjoy reading this. It was worth buying, and I will definitely
Amanda French
I didn't really love this book, and here's why: 1) she says she's writing to persuade people that "Buffy matters," but I of course (like most of the people who would read this book, surely) am already convinced of that, and 2) her "argument" that Buffy matters seems to me to be mostly enacted rather than argued -- in other words, the book seems to think that the best way to argue that Buffy matters is to legitimize it by writing stuffy academic essays about it.

Don't get me wrong: I like a good
Alissa Thorne
A friend of mine invited me to audit a college course on Buffy that his friend was giving. This was on the reading list, so I picked it up.

The introduction was informative. In it, the author defends television as an artistic medium worth of academic interest. She also lists gives us a peek into the academic community around Buffy in particular, including a scholarly conference.

I enjoyed the chapter on Symbol and Language--these being two elements that I find most defining about the show. I appr
Jun 26, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Really interesting; even after the shocking amounts of times I have seen Buffy, there are things that never even occurred to me. Like the Gentlemen representing the patriarchy; the couples in Once More With Feeling wearing coordinating colours; the phallic symbolism of Spike, and even the Freudian sexual connotations to the whole vampire myth.

I felt like at times the book could have been better structured; the first half of the book is 'general' essays, about the series as a whole, and at times
Apr 17, 2016 F.K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. An excellent read for any Buffy fan - (& if you're not a Buffy fan it illustrates why you should be ;) ) Entertaining, illuminating and thought provoking.
If I had to say anything negative it would be that she does bring Freud into her analysis a bit too much in my opinion - but other than that - I really enjoyed the wealth of information and research contained within this deeper look at the subtext meaning and art of BTVS.
Fr. Ryan Humphries
Jan 05, 2013 Fr. Ryan Humphries rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Whedon-fanatics.
Recommended to Fr. Ryan by: The interwebs.
Shelves: non-fiction
Wilcox applies modern deconstructive literary theory to Joss Whedon's small screen opus Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. On the plus side, the author has some astounding insights and culls other authors writing on Buffy from various and sundry perspectives. It opened my eyes time and time again. On the negative side, the author is a factor-issue English major who sees basically everything as a symbol of sex or patriarchal oppression. In this case, she has some justification in that Whedon consciously ...more
Dec 13, 2014 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I'm a Buffy fan. I also have respect for people who can step back and look at this show and discuss the major themes involved. TV was evolving turning that time period. Of the many books out about Buffy and what has now become to be known as the Whedonverse, this books is an excellent starting point.
This has been the most fascinating of the Buffy materials I have read yet. Ms. Wilcox brings into light many themes, quotes, examples, interpretations, meanings, and symbolisms in the Buffy series. She helps tie it together in a way that is explainable to those friends of fans who think we're crazy. :) To quote Michael Adams, author of Slayer Slang: "When it comes to Buffy studies, Wilcox is the Slayer." I highly recommend this book to any diehard Buffy fan.
Jan 04, 2010 Quinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book of essays, Rhona Wilcox providesan academic literary analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her book gave me thoughtful insight into the symbolism and allusions in the show.

I thouroughly enjoyed exploring the sysmpbolism of light and darkness in the series, as well as exploring the themes of journey and redemption. It was definately academic but very enjoyable none the less.
Mar 26, 2007 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a love of Buffy
I chose this to read when I flew to Florida last year. It's the perfect book for anyone who owns all the Buffy seasons but still watches it on T.V. My only complaint is her misinterpretation of the first turning of Angel into Angelus...we can discuss after you've read it. She goes into the symbolism of the show and the ties to other fantasy series. I loved it.
Jul 29, 2012 Shobhna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Very interesting analysis, but admittedly, the episodic chapters were duller than I expected, even though most of the episodes she mentioned (I don't understand the love for 'The Zeppo', as much as it is a fun episode) are my absolute favourites. Maybe I'll come back to these chapters when I'm marathoning the show again.
This book is a must read for any Buffy fan. I had a hard time resisting the temptation to read the next page, the next chapter. An intellectual look at one of the few shows on television deserving of such treatment. For more:
Jocelyn Beane
Dec 03, 2015 Jocelyn Beane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a little dense, demanding your full attention, but it is very rewarding. The text contains exquisite insights into the program, and excels at deftly illuminating the depths of BtVS's relevance to real lives. Highly recommended for anyone who is drawn to the television series for its philosophical underpinnings.
Although Wilcox sometimes suffers from the overly complicated and dense prose that academics often use, there are some real gems in this book. I'm mainly interested in her analyses of "The Body, "Hush," and "Once More with Feeling." All make valid and interesting points.
Apr 18, 2016 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This is a must read for any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. It gives an excellent analysis of the show and explores details I had never noticed before. I highly recommend it. However, do not read unless you have seen all seven seasons of the show as there are many spoilers.
Love Rhonda Wilcox from Slayage conferences. I think she's just coming from much the same place that I am reading Buffy as a text. I get more out of essays by people with specialized knowledge that I don't have, like the ones in the collection of essays she edited.
Jun 17, 2009 Marsha marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This book is a thick read, in that it could be used as a textbook for a course in analyzing the tv show. But I like it because it puts into words the reocurring themes and use of language to prove the complexity of the writing in each episode.
Feb 06, 2012 Maile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great scholarly book on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Chapter by chapter, Wilcox covers themes & features 6 episodes of the series. Wilcox shows why Buffy is worth studying, and appreciating on more than a superficial level.
Jun 14, 2012 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are good ideas in this book but they are taken too far. Too much is read into the different episodes of Buffy, to the point that the episode is no longer enjoyable as a whole.
Jul 25, 2014 Carole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, film-and-tv
This collection of scholarly essays is a great read for the hardcore Buffy fan, but I'd also recommend to anyone interested in the serious study of television as literary text.
Jan 31, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating look at the series. Made me want to watch it all again. Confirmed what I felt about the series from the beginning: that it is art.
Ecatarina Grant
May 03, 2011 Ecatarina Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty great read! And super fast....i recommend it to any readers/viewers of the series who are looking to reignite their love for Buffy!
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Dr. Rhonda V. Wilcox is a Professor of English at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia.
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