Drusilla, Kendra, & the Role of Agency in Vampire Literature

This morning I spoke at the Buffy to Batgirl conference at Rutgers-Camden. I did not get to give my full paper because of some time constraints, but here is the full version of the paper. I talk about Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Carmilla, and Dracula with a strong focus on Mina Harker, Kendra, and Drusilla.

I need to thank Courtney Stoker who helped me edit this paper when I originally wrote it. This paper was submitted a few years ago to a journal who liked it, but said to make a few changes. One of them was unclear, so I asked for an example. I was told the editor did not have time to read it again and that I should have a colleague look at it. I did not resubmit it to that journal. Courtney helped me a lot with crafting my argument in here and I really appreciate her hard work helping me.

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(Re)Framing Transmedial Narratives

The absolute highlight of my time at MLA09 was the night panel on transmedia narratives. I finally got to meet my friend Christy Dena and also catch up with some other friends. Here are my notes:

Marc Ruppel

  • The biggest shift in storytelling has been multiplatform narratives
  • What are they? digital/analog, oral/audio, etc
  • Examples of transmedia narratives: Lost, Buffy The Vampire Slayer series eight comic, etc
  • Connectivity: Edges as transactional spaces
  • Reading paths, instead of just left to right now…(It’s refreshing to hear this; I’ve been saying this for a long time!!!)

Migratory cues:

  • Direct-URLs, books, phone numbers, business cards (the series Heroes was the example for some of these)
  • Intermedial-Direct prescence of one site’s content in anothers
  • Intersectional-One site reflects and approximates momentary events of another
  • Often used in combination
  • Visualize network as a whole

Christy Dena

After this, I just sat and listened to everything Christy was saying. Her work is fascinating and close to what I originally wanted to write about in my Master’s Thesis before sliding to something more “Englishy” (see my first symposium presentation about Distributed Narrative)

I also asked a question to Marc and Christy about the role of canon in fan culture. Specifically, I was curious how they regarded fan fiction and spinoff noncanonical media in regards to their examples of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who. The BTVS series eight comic is pretty established as canonical, but what about Doctor Who where there are numerous comics, Big Finish audios, and other things where their place in the canon is murky at best. Both Marc and Christy said that trying to decipher between all of that just wasn’t worth doing, so they regards everything in the same manner. I can certainly understand that.

Afterwards, while catching up with Christy, we also talked about the defining of new terms which she does in her work. While writing my Master’s Thesis, I had trouble enough with resistance to terms like ergodic, distributed narrative, hypertext, etc. Christy is creating new terms as she goes.

 

The Guilty Parties

(inspiration)

During the fall of 2004, the following are guilty as charged of offering inspiration for what you are reading.

  • Scott Rettberg’s hypertext fiction The Meddlesome Passenger.
  • Jorge Luis Borges’ collection Labyrinths, especially The Library Of Babel, The Immortal, and The Circular Ruins.
  • The literary weblog Conversational Reading, which, beyond generally getting me excited about literature, introduced me to the work of Gilbert Sorrentino, referenced in the penultimate lexia.
  • Jill/txt was a daily, still, source of inspiration.  A conversation with Jill in real life inspired a lexia.
  • Grand Text Auto in general.
  • Shelley Jackson’s My Body a Wunderkammer, which made me cry more than once and pushed me to be brave enough to write about sexuality issues.
  • Of course, The Unknown Collective’s The Unknown, which greatly influenced how I both read and write hypertext, and my aesthetic vision for hypertext fiction.
  • Derik Badman’s, who I met on a Buffy The Vampire Slayer listserv, writing about constraints at the time I was writing War Prayers inspired me to try to write three hundred word, exact, entries.
  • Although offline, Rettberg and Nick Montfort’s sticker novel Implementation was paradoxically what made me create a blog to document War Prayers.  I had to get my words onto a screen somewhere.  I even created a few summary stickers, one of which still is on a wall at The Richard Stockton College Of New Jersey underneath an Implementation sticker.

Weekly Reader

Here is the last few weekend’s worth of weekend reading…

 

Hex

Hex.JPG

This week I have been watching the BBC series Hex.  After hearing that Hex was supposed to be the BBC's answer to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but also hearing elsewhere it was "like Charmed, but worse" I figured I would check it out. 

While not quite as bad as Charmed, Hex is very, let's say, derivative of a few shows.  My biggest problem with this show is how overly dramatic it is.  The melodrama is very high and the "humor" is not funny.  Also, the protagonist is an idiot.  She makes painfully obvious mistakes that even Buffy Summers on her worse day, and there were plenty of those one could argue, would never even conceive of making. 

I will finish it up later tonight, but I am not that impressed. 

Weekly Reader

Hey, how about some weekend reading!

  • Joyce Carol Oates reviews the recent reissue of The Handmaid’s Tale over at The New York Review Of Books.  There is also some lovely discussions of Margaret Atwood’s other books including Surfacing.

  • Elizabeth L. Rambo writes about Cordelia for Slayage twenty three.

  • Edwidge Danticat has a new story in a recent issue of The New Yorker.

  • Via The Little Professor, Ohio State has digitized some of their out of print books.  I am interested in the texts about Shakespeare and Mildred Newcomb’s The Imagined World Of Charles Dickens because I am reading Oliver Twist this weekend for a class.

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight

Four issues into the eight season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and so far I am pretty impressed.  I always thought that Buffy would be easy to convert to comic form, but so far the series has exceeded my expectations.  The writing is stellar, the art is good (especially the third issue cover of Willow), and in general I am pleased.  Having to wait a month for another installment is pretty crappy however.  I have always been a pretty low level comic fan; I collected in the early nineties but these days nothing really holds my interest.  One of these days I need to start buying more omnibus and trade paper backs that are available.