Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 4, 2013

Understanding the Whedonesque Syllabus

Bailey has sent us the following:

I’ve received my syllabus for my Joss Whedon class. My professor said this was so people could catch up on all the series on Netflix, which sounds like a summer well-spent. I thought I’d share it with you in case anyone was interested:

Course Description and Objectives:
This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work. Whedon’s career spans the many production lines in the American Dream Factory: TV series staff writer, script doctor, film screenwriter, TV creator in a wide variety of genres, Internet series creator, comic book writer and creator, niche genre film director, and blockbuster filmmaker. By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media. Works covered include: Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a film and TV series, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Buffy: Season Eight, and The Astonishing X-Men Omnibus.

Statement of Learning Objectives:
•   Students should exit the course with a paper worthy of publication in an academic journal devoted to undergraduate writing or useable for the writing sample required for entry to graduate school.
•   Students will practice a variety of critical approaches: genre and auteur theory, cultural studies, medium specificity, and close reading of individual works.
•   Students will investigate how actual audiences actually used and still use Whedon’s works through fanvids, fan activism, and other fan practices.
•   Students will explore how the modern media environment alters the traditional understanding of the meaning of series through a thorough investigation of spin-offs, comic books, soundtracks, and other materials.

Required Books:
•   Rhonda Wilcox, Tanya Cochran, and Cynthea Masson, eds. A Joss Whedon Reader. PUBLISHED IN 2014
•   Erin B. Waggoner, ed. Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays.
•   David Lavery, Joss Whedon: A Creative Portrait. OUT IN OCTOBER
•   Mary Alice Money, ed. Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion.
•   Rhonda Wilcox, Why Buffy Matters.
•   Roz Kaveney, ed. Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. 2nd edition
•   Lynne Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James B. South, eds. Buffy Goes Dark.
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, eds. Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
•   Stacey Abbott, Reading Angel.
•   AmiJo Comeford and Tamy Burnett, eds. The Literary Angel.
•   Stacey Abbott, Angel.
•   Mary Kirby-Diaz, ed. Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet: Essays on Online Fandom
•   Paul Attinello, Janet K. Halfyard, and Vanessa Knights, eds. Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
•   Kendra Preston Leonard, ed. Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing.
•   Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, The Astonishing X-Men Omnibus. OUT OF PRINT
•   Joss Whedon, Buffy Season Eight.

Suggested Books:
•   Joanne Hollows, Peter Hutchings and Mark Jancovich, eds. The Film Studies Reader.
•   Barry Keith Grant, ed. Film Genre Reader IV.

Course Schedule:

Writing Under a Powerful Woman: Joss as Staff Writer on Roseanne

Class 1 in-class viewing assignment: “Brain Dead Poets Society” Roseanne [2.10] (writer Joss Whedon, dir. John Pasquin, 1989)

Whedon as Script Doctor and Screenwriter

Class 2 viewing assignment: Watch ONE of the following
•   Speed (writer Graham Yost, dir. Jan de Bont, 1994)
•   Alien: Resurrection (writer Joss Whedon, characters Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997)
Class 2 reading assignments:
•   Thomas Schatz, “The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study,” Film Genre Reader IV. (ed. Barry Keith Grant). p. 91-101. (ON RESERVE)
•   Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” Theories of Authorship (ed. John Caughie). p. 208-213. http://www.deathoftheauthor.com/
•   Raz Greenberg, “Alien: Resurrection, the Script that Shaped Joss Whedon’s Career,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 431-440.
•   David Lavery, “Script Doctor/Screenwriter,” Joss: A Creative Portrait of Joss Whedon, Maker of the Whedonverses. TBA

Class 3 viewing assignment:
•   Buffy the Vampire Slayer (writer Joss Whedon, dir. Fran Rubel Kuzui, 1992)
Class 3 reading assignments:
•   Thomas Schatz, “The Whole Equation of Pictures,” The Genius of the System, p. 3-12. [ON RESERVE]
•   Laura Berger, “Joss Whedon 101: Buffy the Vampire Slayer [The Movie],” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 429-31.
•   David Lavery, “Buffy Goes to the Movies,” Joss: A Creative Portrait of Joss Whedon, Maker of the Whedonverses. TBA

The School of Buffy: Learning to Direct

Class 4 viewing assignments:
•   Production pilot [Buffy the Vampire Slayer unaired] (Joss Whedon, 1997) http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/videos/buffy000.wmv
•   “Prophecy Girl” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.12] (Joss Whedon, 1997)
Class 4 reading assignments:
•   Roz Kaveney, “ ‘She Saved the World. A Lot.’ An Introduction to the Themes and Structures of Buffy and Angel.” Reading the Vampire Slayer. 2nd ed. (Roz Kaveney, ed.) 1-82.
•   David Kociemba, “From Beneath You, It Foreshadows: Why Buffy’s First Season Matters,” Joss Whedon Reader. (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming) 22 pages.

Class 5 viewing assignments:
•   Surprise [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.13] (writer Marti Noxon, dir. Michael Lange, 1998)
•   Innocence [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.14] (Joss Whedon, 1998)
Class 5 reading assignments:
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Love and Loss: It’s Not Over: Time, Love, and Loss in ‘Surprise’/’Innocence’,” Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 111-128.
•   Sherryl Vint, “‘Killing us Softly’? A Feminist Search for the ‘Real’ Buffy,” Slayage: The Online International of Whedon Studies. Volume 2.1, 14 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/vint.pdf
•   Patricia Pender, “‘I’m Buffy, and You’re… History’: the Postmodern Politics of Buffy,” Fighting the Forces. p. 35-44.

Class 6 viewing assignments:
•   Becoming [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.21 & 2.22] (Joss Whedon, 1998)
Class 6 reading assignments:
•   Victoria Spah, “ ‘Ain’t Love Grand?’: Spike and Courtly Love,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 2.1, 13 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/spah.pdf
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Every Night I Save You: Buffy, Spike, Sex and Redemption,” Why Buffy Matters. p. 79-89.
•   Gwyn Symonds, “‘A Little More Soul Than Is Written’: James Marsters’ Performance of Spike and the Ambiguity of Evil in Sunnydale,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 4.4, 15 pages http://slayageonline.com/PDF/symonds2.pdf .

Close Readings and Narrative Complexity

Class 7 viewing assignment:
•   Restless [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.22] (Joss Whedon, 2000)
Class 7 reading assignments:
•   Jason Mittell, “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television,” The Velvet Light Trap, Number 58, Fall 2006, p. 29-40. (ON RESERVE)

Class 8 reading assignments:
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Poetry: T. S. Eliot Comes to Television: ‘Restless’,” Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 162-173.
•   Frédérique Lecoq, “Play, Identity, and Aesthetics in ‘Restless’,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.1 (2010). 17 pages.

Class 9 viewing assignment
•   The Body [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5.16] (Joss Whedon, 2000)
Class 9 reading assignment:
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Death: They’re Going to Find a Body: Quality Television and the Supernatural in ‘The Body’,” Why Buffy Matters. p. 174-190.

Something to Sing About: Reconsidering Fantasy Heroism after 9/11

Class 10 viewing assignment:
•   Once More With Feeling [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 6.7] (Joss Whedon, 2001)
Class 10 reading assignments:
•   Michael Adams, “Buffy and the Death of Style,” Buffy Goes Dark, p. 83-94.
•   Rhonda V. Wilcox, “Song: Singing and Dancing and Burning and Dying—’Once More, with Feeling’,” Why Buffy Matters. p. 191-205.
•   Amy Bauer, “‘Give Me Something to Sing About’: Intertextuality and the Audience in ‘Once More, with Feeling’,” Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 209-234.
•   Janet K. Halfyard, “Singing Their Hearts Out: The Problem of Performance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.” Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing. p. 155-172.

Using Crossovers: The Faith Arc

Class 11 in-class viewing:
•   “Five By Five” [Angel 1.18] (writer Jim Kouf, dir. James A. Contner, 2000)
•   “Sanctuary” [Angel 1.19] (writers Tim Minear and Joss Whedon, dir. Michael Lange, 2000)

Class 11 viewing assignment:
•   “This Year’s Girl” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.15] (writer Doug Petrie, dir. Michael Gershman, 2000)
•   “Who Are You?” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.16] (Joss Whedon, 2000)

Class 12 reading assignments:
•   Ian Shuttleworth, “‘They Always Mistake Me for the Character I Play!’: Transformation, Identity, and Role-playing in the Buffyverse (and a Defense of Fine Acting),” Reading the Vampire Slayer. p. 233-276.
•   Sue Tjardes, “‘If You’re Not Enjoying It, You’re Doing It Wrong’: Textual and Viewer Constructions of Faith, the Vampire Slayer,” Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Warrior Heroes. (eds. Frances Early and Kathleen Kennedy.) p. 66-77. (ON RESERVE)

Smile Time: Whedon and Comedy

Class 13 viewing assignment:
•   “Smile Time” [Angel 5.14] (writers Ben Edlund and Joss Whedon, dir. Edlund, 2004)
Class 13 reading assignments:
•   Stacey Abbott, Angel. Wayne State University Press: 2009. p. 1-103
•   Stacey Abbott, “‘Nobody Scream… or Touch My Arms’: The Comic Stylings of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce,” Reading Angel. (ed. Stacey Abbott.) p. 189-202.
•   Steve Wilson, “Laugh, Spawn of Hell, Laugh,” Reading the Vampire Slayer, FIRST EDITION, p. 78-97. (ON RESERVE).

A Sense of an Ending: Understanding the Role of the Series Finale

Class 14 viewing assignments:
•   “Chosen” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer 7.22] (Joss Whedon, 2003)
•   “Not Fade Away” [Angel 5.22] (writers Joss Whedon and Jeffrey Bell, dir. Jeffrey Bell, 2004)
Class 14 reading assignments
•   David Fritts, “Warrior Heroes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Beowulf,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 5.1, 13 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/fritts.pdf
•   Greg Stevenson, “The End as Moral Guidepost,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 4.3, 14 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/stevenson.pdf
•   Roz Kaveney, “A Sense of the Ending: Schrödinger’s Angel,” Reading Angel. (ed. Stacey Abbott.) p. 57-72.

Firefly I: Jane Espenson, neo-Auteur of the School of Whedon

Class 15 viewing assignment:
•   “Shindig” [Firefly 1.4] (writer Jane Espenson, dir. Vern Gillum, 2002)
Class 15 reading assignments:
•   David Kociemba, “Understanding the Espensode,” Buffy Goes Dark. pages 23-39.
•   Jim Kitses, “Authorship and Genre: Notes on the Western,” The Film Studies Reader. p. 89-94.
•   Agnes B. Curry, “‘We don’t say ‘Indian’”: On the Paradoxical Construction of the Reavers, ” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 7.1, 15 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Curry2.pdf

Firefly II: Gender Masquerade on the Frontier

Class 16 viewing assignment:
•   “Our Mrs. Reynolds” [Firefly 1.6] (writer Joss Whedon, dir. Vondie Curtis Hall, 2002)
Class 16 reading assignment:
•   Mary Anne Doane, “Film and the Masquerade,” The Film Studies Reader. 248-256.
•   David Magill, “I Aim to Misbehave: Masculinities in the ‘Verse,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 76-86
•   Barbara Maio, “Between Past and Future: Hybrid Design Style in Firefly and Serenity,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 201-211.

Can’t Stop the Signal: Serenity and Fan Activism

Class 17 viewing assignment:
•   Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005)
Class 17 reading assignments:
•   Stacey Abbott, “Can’t Stop the Signal: The Resurrection/Regeneration of Serenity,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 227-238.
•   Tanya Cochran, “The Browncoats are Coming! Firefly, Serenity, and Fan Activism,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 239-249.
•   Jeffrey Bussolini, “A Geopolitical Interpretation of Serenity,” Investigating Firefly and Serenity. (eds. Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran). p. 139-152.
•   Rebecca M. Brown, “Orientalism in Firefly and Serenity,” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 7.1, 16 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Brown.pdf

Participatory Whedonesque Cultures

Class 18 in-class viewing:
•   Scooby Road (Luminosity, 2005) 40 min. http://www.viddler.com/explore/Luminosity/videos/37/
Class 18 viewing assignment:
•   Buffy vs. Edward (Jonathan McIntosh, 2009) 3-4 min.
•   Jonathan McIntosh, “What Would Buffy Do? Notes on Dusting Edward Cullen,” http://www.wimnonline.org/WIMNsVoicesBlog/?p=1272
•   “Buffy vs. Twilight – Stalking Scene Comparison,” http://criticalcommons.org/Members/RebelliousPixels/clips/Stalking_Buffy_s1e01_WEB.mov/view
Class 18 reading assignments:
•   Henry Jenkins, “‘Get a Life!’: Fans, Poachers, Nomads,” Textual Poachers, 9-49. (ON RESERVE)
•   Francesca Coppa, “Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding,” Transformative Works and Cultures (2008), http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/44/64
•   Tanya Cochran, “A Living History of Whedon Studies, 1999 to the Present,” Joss Whedon Reader. (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming) TBA

Class 19 in-class viewing
•   selected fanvids
Class 19 reading assignments:
•   Kathryn Hill, “‘Easy to Associate Angsty Lyrics with Buffy’: An Introduction to a Participatory Fan Culture: Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet. p. 172-196.
•   Claudia Rebaza, “The Problematic Definition of ‘Fan’: A Survey of Fannish Involvement in the Buffyverse,” Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet. p. 147-171.
•   David Kociemba, “‘Fake it Till You Make It’: Understanding Media Addiction and Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy and Angel Conquer the Internet. p. 127-146.

Fantasy Is His Business… But Not His Purpose: Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse

Class 20 viewing assignment: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, 2008)
Class 20 reading assignments:
•   Alyson Buckman. “‘Go Ahead, Run Away! Say it Was Horrible!’: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog as Resistant Text.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.1 (2010). 17 pages. http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Buckman.pdf
•   Kendra Preston Leonard, “‘The Status Is Not Quo’: Gender and Performance in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” Buffy, Ballads and Bad Guys Who Sing. (ed. Kendra Preston Leonard.) p. 275-292.

Class 21 viewing assignment:
•   “Man on the Street” [Dollhouse 1.6] (Joss Whedon, 2009-2010)
Class 21 reading assignments:
•   Tom Connolly and Shelley S. Rees. “Alienation and the Dialectics of History in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 8.2-3 (2010). 17 pages http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage30_31/Connelly_Rees.pdf
•   Eve Bennett. “Deconstructing the Dream Factory: Personal Fantasy and Corporate Manipulation in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.” Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association 9.1 (2011). 24 pages. http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage33/Bennett.pdf
•   Tony M. Vinci, “‘Not an Apocalypse, the Apocalypse’: Existential Proletarisation and the Possibility of Soul in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse,” Science Fiction Film and Television. Volume 4, Issue 2, (Autumn 2011), p. 225-248. (on reserve on course web site)

The Cabin in the Woods: Gender, Genre, and Excess

Class 22 viewing assignment:
•   The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, 2011)
Class 22 reading assignments:
•   Linda Williams, “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Film Genre Reader IV. (ed. Barry Keith Grant). p. 140-158. (ON RESERVE)
•   Carol J Clover, “Her Body, Himself,” The Film Studies Reader. 256-264.
•   Laura Berger, “Joss Whedon 101: Cabin in the Woods,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 440-443.
•   Kristopher Woofter, “Cabin Boy: Whedon’s New Dimension of Horror in The Cabin in the Woods,” Joss Whedon Reader. (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming) TBA
•   [Adam Lowenstein, “Spectacle Horror and Hostel: Why ‘Torture Porn’ Does Not Exist,” Critical Quarterly 53.1: April 2011. 19 pages.
•   [Marina Warner, Monsters of Our Own Making or Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-first Century .]

The Comics: X-Men, Buffy, and The Avengers

Class 23 reading assignments:
•   Read The Astonishing X-Men Omnibus (Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, 2009).
•   Patrick Shand, Cesar R. Bustante, Jr., et al., “The Comics,” Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. p. 307-367.

Class 24 reading assignments:
•   Read Buffy, Season 8 (Joss Whedon, 2007-11)
•   Stacey Abbott. “It (Re-)Started with a Girl: The Creative Interplay between TV and Comics in Angel: After the Fall.” The Literary Angel. (eds. AmiJo Comeford and Tamy Burnett.) p. 221-232.
•   Helene Frohard-Dourlent, “‘Lez-faux’ Representations: How Buffy Season Eight Navigates the Politics of Female Heteroflexibility.” Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays. (ed. Erin B. Waggoner.) p. 31-47.

Class 25 viewing assignment:
•   The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)
Class 25 reading assignments:
•   David Lavery, “The Avengers,” Joss: A Creative Portrait of Joss Whedon, Maker of the Whedonverses. TBA
•   Ensley Guffey, “Joss Whedon Throws His Mighty Shield: Marvel’s The Avengers as War Movie,” Joss Whedon Reader. (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming) TBA

Much Ado About Nothing: The Fannish Shakespeare Adaptation

Class 26 viewing assignment:
•   Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon, 2012)
Class 26 reading assignments:
•   David Lavery, “Networks of Enterprise,” Joss: A Creative Portrait of Joss Whedon, Maker of the Whedonverses. TBA

Exam class: Final research paper due

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Responses

  1. Very cool! I’m honestly jealous that you get to take that class. Seems like it would be a lot of fun. I guess I’ll just have to settle with the Rewatch 😛

  2. Bailey, I’ve been asked over at thetvcritic.org forums where you are studying?

    • I go to Emerson College in Boston, MA.


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