The Essential Cult Television Reader

 Edited by

David Lavery

Essential Readers in Contemporary Media and Culture

Gary Edgerton, Series Editor

Tentative Table of Contents


The Editor

Dr. David Lavery teaches at Middle Tennessee State University. The author of numerous essays and reviews and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of fifteen books published or under contract, including Late for the Sky: The Mentality of the Space Age (Southern Illinois U P, 1992); Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks (Wayne State U P, 1994); 'Deny All Knowledge': Reading The X-Files (Syracuse U P, 1996); Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002); Teleparody: Predicting/Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow (Wallflower, Columbia U P, 2002); This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos (Wallflower, Columbia U P, 2002); Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom (Continuum, 2006); Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: An Unauthorized Guide (Sourcebooks, 2006); Reading Deadwood: A Western to Swear By (I. B. Tauris, 2006); Reading The Sopranos: Hit TV from HBO (I. B. Tauris, 2006); Dear Angela: Remembering My So Called Life (Lexington Books, 2007); Saving the World: A Guide to Heroes (EWC Press. 2007); Lost’s Buried Treasures: The Unofficial Guide to Everything Lost Fans Need to Know (Sourcebooks, 2007. 2008), Joss: A Creative Portrait of the Maker of the Whedonverses (I. B. Tauris/St. Martin's, 2009), and The Essential Sopranos Reader (forthcoming).


Lavery co-edits the e-journal Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, edits Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, now housed at Brunel, and is one of the founding editors of the new journal Critical Studies in Television: Scholarly Studies of Small Screen Fictions. The co-organizer of international conferences on Buffy held in 2004 and 2006, he is at work developing a conference on The Sopranos to be held jointly in London and New York in Spring 2008. He has been a guest on the BBC, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Scotland, VH1, SKY TV, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and a source for The New York Times, The Tennessean, Stitch, The Florida Times, The Hartford Courant, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publico (Portugal), and other publications.


He has lectured around the world on the subject of television: invited talks at the Myths of Creativity and Dead Bodies: Presentation and Representation symposia at the University of Heidelberg, at the Blood, Text, and Fears conference at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and at the University of Cardiff, Wales; keynote addresses at the Sonic Synergies and Creative Cultures and Staking a Claim: Exploring the Global Reach of Buffy at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, the Contemporary American Quality Television International Conference at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, and Giving and Taking Offence, University of Aveiro, Portugal and Buffy Hereafter: From the Whedonverse to the Whedonesque, Istanbul, Turkey.



Stacey Abbott teaches at the University of Surrey-Roehampton. She is the author/editor of numerous books including Angel (TV Milestones), Investigating Angel, Investigating Alias, and Celluloid Vampires.

Dee Amy-Chinn runs the Foundation Degree in Communication at Work at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. Recent publications include ‘Good Vampires Don’t Suck: Sex, Celibacy and the Body of Angel’ (in Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil); ‘Queering the Bitch: Spike, Transgression and Erotic Empowerment’ and (with Milly Williamson), ‘The Vampire Spike in Text and Fandom: Unsettling Oppositions in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (European Journal of Cultural Studies); ‘’Tis Pity She’s a Whore: Postfeminist Prostitution in Joss Whedon’s Firefly’, Feminist Media Studies); and ‘Regulating against Offence: lessons from the field of UK advertising' (Media and Critical Theory).

Jes Battis recently received his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University in Canada. He is the author of Investigating Farscape and Chosen Families in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. His first novel will soon be published.

Stan Beeler teaches at the University of Northern British Columbia. He has written frequently on science fiction and fantasy television and is the co-editor of books on Stargate SG-1 and Charmed.

David Bianculli is the author of Teleliteracy and The Dictionary of Teleliteracy and runs the website

Michele Byers teaches at St. Mary’s University in Canada and is author/editor of books on My So-Called Life and Degrassi.

Marc Dolan teaches at John Jay College in New York. He is the author of Modern Lives: A Cultural Re-Reading of “The Lost Generation.”

Steve Duckworth recently received his Ph.D. at Brunel University in London, where he now teaches courses in film and television.

Sam Ford is project manager in the Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT.

Jonathan Gray is the author of Watching The Simpsons. He teaches at Fordham University in New York.

Matt Hills is senior lecturer at the University of Wales, Cardiff and author of such books as Fan Cultures and The Pleasures of Horror.

Robert Holtzclaw teaches at Middle Tennessee State University.

Doug Howard teaches at Suffolk County Community College and is the author of essays on The Sopranos, Deadwood, and 24.

Leon Hunt is senior lecturer in film and television at Brunel University in London and author of Kung Fu Cult Masters.

Jason Jacobs teaches at the University of Queensland in Australia. He is the author of The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama and Body Trauma TV.

Angelina Karpovich is lecturer in Multimedia and Broadcasting Technology at Brunel University.  She is the author of several articles on contemporary media fandom and creative fan practices. She just completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Mikel Koven teaches at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and is the author of numerous essays on film and television and of La Dolce Morta: The Italian Giallo Film.

Marcia Landy is Distinguished Service Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of over a dozen books.

Steven Lacey is the author/co-author of such books as Television Drama: Past, Present and Future and one of the founding editors of Critical Studies in Television. He teaches at the University of Glamorgan in Wales.

Jonathan Lampley recently received his PhD at Middle Tennessee State University and is the author of two books, including a forthcoming study of Vincent Price.

Joyce Millman has been a television critic for, the Boston Phoenix and the San Francisco Examiner, and is the co-author of "The Great Snape Debate" (BenBella).

Joanne Morreale teaches media and communication studies at Northeastern University. Her focus in scholarship is on political film and television criticism and she has written several books and articles on media criticism and her latest book, Critiquing the Sitcom (2002), is an edited compilation of essays addressing race, class, and gender issues in the television situation comedy. She is also the author of two other books, A New Beginning: A Rhetorical Frame Analysis of the Presidential Campaign Film (1987), and A History and Criticism of the Presidential Campaign Film (1992), and she is contributing author to The Persuasion Society (2001).

Angela Ndalianis teaches cinema studies at the University of Melbourne and is the author of several books, including Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment.

Robin Nelson is professor of drama at Manchester Metropolitan University and the author of TV Drama in Transition and other books.

Henrik Örnebring is, mysteriously, Axess Research Fellow in Comparative European Journalism at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford. He has a keen interest in cult TV and has previously published work on Alias in International Journal of Cultural Studies and the edited collection Investigating Alias: Secrets and Spies.

Steven Peacock is lecturer in film at the University of Hertfordshire. He is the author/editor of such books as Reading 24 and Colour: Cinema Aesthetics.

Alison Peirse is Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle. Her research interests are cult television and horror film, and her article "The Impossibility of Vision: Vampirism, Formlessness and Horror in Vampyr" was recently published in Studies in European Cinema (5.3, 2009). She  has a number of forthcoming publications, including "Destroying the Male Body in British Horror Cinema," in Mysterious Skin: Male Bodies in Contemporary Cinema (Tauris).

Bart Porter saw his first article professionally published thirty years ago, and in those three decades he’s written extensively for a variety of newspaper, academic, popular culture and business publications. An active fan of both science fiction and western literature, he found the combination of those genres in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. intriguing and maintains an admiration for that cult television series. A corporate communicator by trade, Bart resides in suburban Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, daughter and Elvis the Wonder Dog.

Lynnette Porter is professor of English at Emby-Riddle Aeronautical University and author/co-author of books on The Lord of the Rings, Lost, Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica.

Carolyn Skelton recently completed her Ph.D at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Jon Stratton teaches cultural studies at Curtin University of Technology in Australia and author of a half dozen books, including Coming Out Jewish and The Desirable Body.

J P Telotte teaches at Georgia Institute of Technology and is the author of scores of essays and numerous books on film and television.

Sue Turnbull teaches media studies at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia and is co-editor of a forthcoming collection on Veronica Mars.

Rhonda Wilcox is Professor of English at Gordon College and author of Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Milly Williamson is lecturer in film and television at Brunel University in London and author of The Lure of the Vampire.