CFP: American Colonization in the Works of Joss Whedon (2/28/06; 5/26/06-5/28/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Tamy L Burnett

CFP: "For Justice, the Safety of Puppies, and Christmas: American
Colonization in the Works of Joss Whedon" - a panel to be presented at the
2006 International Slayage Conference on the Works of Joss Whedon; Gordon
College, Barnesville GA; May 26-28, 2006. (Conference website:

Currently the panel has two presenters; we are looking for a third. The
panel will explore the conflation of American values with universal ideals
of justice, as well as examine Whedon's work in a post-colonial light. See
below for the panel's abstract. Of the two confirmed presenters, one will
focus on Buffy the Vampire Slayer , specifically the fourth season
Thanksgiving episode "Pangs", which explores Native American identity and
the effects of colonization on minority cultures. The other presenter will
offer a reading of Firefly and Serenity as an allegory for changing
social memory concerning the American West frontier and it's colonization.

Proposals exploring similar themes from any Joss Whedon production are
welcome. We especially encourage proposals examining a Whedon production
other than Buffy or Firefly.

Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words to Tamy Burnett, by February 28, 2006.

Panel abstract:

For Justice, the Safety of Puppies, and Christmas:
American Colonization in the Works of Joss Whedon

When Spike first learns that the behavior modification chip implanted in
his brain does not prevent him from fighting demons, he demands that Willow
and Xander join him on patrol, in the name of Justice, the safety of
puppies, and Christmas. While the defense of justice, puppies, or
Christmas is not high on Spike’s priority list, he uses these words because
he thinks they will speak to Xander and Willow, who value modern American
ideals and act as defenders of humanity by protecting those ideals. Spike
would use the same appeal for the show’s other “good guy” characters, as
they all share a similar experience and value set.

One of the major criticisms of Joss Whedon’s creative universe home to
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is that there are so many white people
â€" minority experience is underrepresented, and representing contemporary
issues of race, sexuality, or class through demon others becomes
problematic quickly, as inevitably the demons are evil. When considering
the narrative ‘verse of Firefly and Serenity , similar criticisms of
under-representation arise. This future is one supposedly one where all
differences, except economic, have been eliminated â€" everyone speaks both
English and Chinese. No one bats an eye at interracial marriages, and
non-heterosexual interactions are equally unremarkable; such behavior is
only a spectacle to Jayne, who eroticizes it to the point that he needs
“quality time” in his bunk. However, viewers rarely see the equalized
racial minorities. Even among the main characters, the demographic makeup
is disproportionately white. Those who visually represent racial others
are clearly bi- or multi-racial, largely conforming to Western standards of
beauty â€" standards which draw of physical qualities originating in
Caucasian culture.

Such critics often fail to consider storylines, allegories, and characters
in which Whedon and his creative staff grapple with the difficult issues of
racial representation and how contemporary America balances national
identity as a pluralistic society with a legacy of colonization. The
following panel will explore Whedon’s treatment of these topics in depth.

              From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
                         Full Information at
         or write Jennifer Higginbotham:
Received on Sat Feb 11 2006 - 14:46:08 EST