James B. South, editor,
Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Philosophy:
Fear & Trembling in Sunnydale

(Open Court, 2003)

When I was a bright-eyed university student *mumble* years ago, one of the requirements for graduation was to get through two semesters of philosophy. I honestly do not remember the two courses I suffered through, but I do remember the feeling of dread that reporting to class instilled in me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't wrap my brain around some of the concepts presented.

I really wish that Open Court's Popular Culture & Philosophy (of which this is Volume IV) had been available then. While the concepts remain somewhat difficult to grasp, by applying them to something with which I am very familiar -- in this case Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- they bring the "Eureka!" moment within grasping distance.

This book contains 22 essays divided into five sections (herein called "codices" for that feeling of being in Giles's library) that discuss feminism; knowledge, rationality and science; ethics; religion and politics; and watching television. Also included is a brief episode guide. Since the essayists are for the most part philosophy professors or teachers in training, you can be assured that they know their stuff and have some experience in drilling it into the heads of recalcitrant students.

All of this talk of school and teachers makes it sound like this book is a textbook, which it most decidedly is not. It is designed both to make philosophical concepts easier to grasp and to allow the authors to discuss a favorite television show on their own terms.

Give it a try; you might find the new slant on an old favorite gives you a whole new appreciation of the trials and tribulations of Buffy and her friends.

by Laurie Thayer
6 January 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.