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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 14:37 GMT
Buffy slays academics
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Buffy has attracted academics and critics
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is more than just a teenage superhero according to a student who has been studying her.

Jaq Bayles wrote a dissertation on the television show for her MA in English Literature.

She says the programme - which features Buffy hunting and killing vampires - empowers women and girls by showing strong female role models.

She said: "As a television programme it is fantastic because what it does is empower women.


It throws up great role models

Jaq Bayles
"It throws up great role models.

"But on the sub-textual level it actually works to return the gender order by punishing the women for being powerful."

She said: "Buffy is unusual in that she is a female superhero but she is punished by losing everything she loves."

For the MA - which she took at Sussex University in the UK - Jaq Bayles watched hours of Buffy.

Her 17,000 word dissertation was called "Drop-dead monstrous" and dealt with how the women in the series are more monstrous than the vampires and devils they hunt.

Allegories

She examined the idea that the vampires in the stories are allegories of difficult aspects of teenage life.

"Other academics have written about the battles with monsters being like the troubles teenagers face in adolescence," she said.

Jaq Bayles - who is a freelance journalist - is not alone in her fascination with Buffy - who is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

"Quite a few academics are now writing about Buffy. Lots of people see the monsters as allegorical for the teenage condition," she said.

While the show is attracting academic interest, it has angered some Christian groups.

Some complain that programmes such as Buffy - and the Harry Potter novels - attract children to witchcraft and paganism.

See also:

04 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Buffy draws children to witchcraft
12 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Student investigates scary Buffy
31 Oct 99 | Education
Children to learn about TV at school
27 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Children in UK 'watch most TV'
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