ENGL 6650-7650

Special Topics in Popular Culture: Joss Whedon

Spring 2013 | Room: PH 322

Monday 600-900 pm



Basics: Agenda | Class Members [Specialties/School of Whedon] | Course Policies and Procedures | Course Requirements | Dr. David Lavery | Power Points | Texts | Whedon Books in Lavery's Library | Whedon Influences | Whedon Signatures | Whedonverses Topics

Extras: Course Blog | School of Whedon | Websites and Links | Whedon Glossary | Whedon Interviews | Whedon Timeline | Whedon Photo Gallery | Whedon's Occasional Writings | Whedon's Series and Movies


Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 Office Hours: M 500-600 pm; T-Th 230-330 pm E-mail: david.lavery@mtsu.edu | david.lavery@gmail.com Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 Home Page: http://davidlavery.net


Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ), where he won the University's 2006 Distinguished Research Award. The author of over one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of over twenty books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The co-convener of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the work of Joss Whedon and on The Sopranos, co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association, and founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, Critical Studies in Television, and Series/Season/Show, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London. In the Fall of 2013, he will become the Director of Graduate Studies in English.




JWCP (not yet released, this book will be available on the JWRDVD) JWC WBM RA IFS JWCC


All class members will also receive a Whedon Resource DVD [JWRDVD]. Go here for a guide to the JWRDVD.


Whedonverses Bookstore


Click on the images to go to the Amazon page for each book, or follow the link to the Whedonverses Boostore, or order online from any other seller.


Class Members [SpecialtySchool of Whedon Assignment]

Daniel Copp [Alien ResurrectionDrew Goddard] | Tom Cruz [Astonishing X-MenJeph Loeb] | Sarah Gray-Panesi [DollhouseFran Kranz] | Sara Hays [FireflyJames Marsters] | Lisa Jass [The AvengersClark Gregg] | Cori Mathis [Acting/Directing Other People's ShowsNeil Patrick Harris] | Luke Patton [The Cabin in the WoodsSummer Glau] | Dawn Schock [AngelBen Edlund] | Tori Warenik [FrayAlyson Hannigan]


Course Policies and Procedures

Submission of Assignments: All written assignments must be submitted by the assigned date as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text file via the appropriate D2L Drop Box. Please name the file with your own last name (for example: lavery.doc). Please name the file with your own last name (for example: lavery.doc). Participation & Involvement: Please come prepared for each night’s class. I encourage you to become an active participant in class discussion and to ask constructive and meaningful questions at all times--even when I appear to be "lecturing." Take note that 20% of your course grade is based on class participation. Attendance: Regular attendance is essential to the ongoing progress of the course. One absences will be permitted. A second absence may result in the loss of a letter grade. A third absence may result in failure of the course. Inclement Weather Policy: Go here. Students with Disabilities: Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (call/contact John Harris, KUC 120/2783).


Course Requirements

1. Special Project: Either (A) A critical Essay: A 1500 (MA students)/2,000 (PhD students) word reading/analysis/interpretation of a Whedon written/directed episode(s), movie, comic; or (B) A pedagogical Whedon project: a course syllabus, website, power point presentation, annotated bibliography / filmography / videography or (C) A proposal to a publisher for a book on Whedon's work.30% of course grade.

2. Major Paper: A source paper of not less than 3000 words (PhD students: 4,000 words) on some aspect of the Whedonverses approved by me.50% of course grade.

3. Class Participation20% of course grade based on:

Power Points

Angel | Buffy Goes to the Movies | The Cabin in the Woods | Collaborating | Dollhouse | Boy | Firefly/Serenity | From the Mind of Joss Whedon | "I think I was in heaven": Joss Whedon's Atheist Faith | "'I Wrote My Thesis on You': Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult" | Joss Kills People | Joss Whedon: Script Doctoring/Screen Writing | Joss Whedon and Comic Books | Marvel's The Avengers | Michael Bay vs. Joss Whedon | Not Making Wonder Woman | Syllabus | Television Son | Fan Boy | Film Studies Major |Television Writer | "We'd do the weird stuff": Joss Whedon's Naughty Side | What Whedon Learned at Wesleyan | Whedon Studies | Working Outside the System



Week 1 | January 28

Subject: Introduction to the Course

Reading Assignments: JWCPPrologue; Lavery, "I wrote my thesis on you"

Power Points: Syllabus; Whedon Studies; "'I Wrote My Thesis on You': Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult"

Week 2 | February 4

Subject: From the Mind of Joss Whedon

Reading Assignments: JWCPIntroduction

Power Points: From the Mind of Joss Whedon; Michael Bay vs. Joss Whedon

Screening: Serenity Trailer; clips from Angel, Firefly, The Avengers, The Island, Transformer: Dark of the Moon

Week 3 | February 11

Subject: Television Son/Fan Boy/Film Studies Major/Television Writer

Reading Assignments: JWCPChapters 1-4

Power Points: Television Son | Fan Boy | Film Studies Major | Television Writer; "We'd do the weird stuff": Joss Whedon's Naughty Side

Screening: Roseanne Episodes

Week 4 | February 18

Subject: Script Doctor, Screen Writer

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapters 5, 6

Power Points: Script Doctoring/Screen Writing

Screening: Clips from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Speed, Waterworld, Twister, Alien Resurrection

Week 5 | February 25

Subject: Buffy Does Television

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapter 7; WBM (all)

Power Points: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Screening: "Restless" [Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)]

Week 6 | March 4

Subject: Angel

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapter 8; RA (all)

Power Points: Angel

Screening: "Spin the Bottle" [Angel (1999-2004)]

Week 7 | March 18

Subject: Firefly and Serenity

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapters 8, 9; IFS (all)

Power Points: Firefly and Serenity

Screening: "Objects in Space" [Firefly (2002)] and clips from Serenity (2005)

March 11-17: Spring Break (No Class)

Week 8 | March 25

Subject: Collaborating | Comic Book Author: | Fray, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, Buffy Season 8, Buffy Season 9

Reading Assignments: JWCPChapter 9

Screening: Clips from The Office, Veronica Mars, Glee

Power Points:Collaborating | Comic Book Author

Week 9 | April 1 [Special Project or Major Paper Due by this date]

Subject: Working Outside the System

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapter 12

Power Points: Working Outside the System

Screening: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Week 10 | April 8

Subject: Dollhouse

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapter 10; Fantasy is Not Their Purpose: Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (on JWRDVD)

Power Points: Dollhouse

Screening: "Epitaph" [Dollhouse (2009-2010)]

Week 11 | April 15

Subject: Wonder Woman, The Cabin in the Woods

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapters 11, 12

Power Points: Wonder Woman | The Cabin in the Woods

Screening: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Week 12 | April 22

Subject: The Avengers

Reading Assignment: JWCPChapter 13

Power Points: The Avengers

Screening: The Avengers (2012)

Week 13 | April 29

Subject: Joss Whedon, Auteur

Reading Assignment: JWCP14

Power Points: Joss Whedon, Auteur

Screening: TBA

School of Whedon Presentations: Copp, Gray-Panesi, Jass, Patton

Week 14 | May 6 [Special Project or Major Paper Due by this date]

Subject: The School of Whedon | The Future of Joss Whedon

Reading Assignment: http://davidlavery.net/Joss/School_of_Whedon | JWCPEpilogue

Power Points: School of/Future of Joss Whedon

Screening: TBA

School of Whedon Presentations: Cruz, Hays, Mathis, Schock, Warenik