Joss Whedon's Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity

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Sherry Ginn, Alyson R. Buckman, Heather M. Porter
Rowman & Littlefield, 2014 - Performing Arts - 225 pages
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Although it lasted barely more than a season, Dollhouse continues to intrigue viewers as one of Joss Whedon's most provocative forays into television. The program centered on men and women who have their memories and personalities repeatedly wiped and replaced with new ones by a shadowy corporation dedicated to "fulfilling the whims of the rich." This chilling scenario was used to tell stories about big issues--power and resistance, freedom and servitude, class and gender--while always returning to its central themes of identity and individuality. In Joss Whedon's Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity, Sherry Ginn, Alyson R. Buckman, and Heather M. Porter bring together fourteen diverse essays that showcase the series' complex vision of the future. Contributors probe deeply into the fictional universe of the show by considering the motives of the wealthy clients and asking what love means when personalities are continually remade. Other essays consider the show's relations to politics, philosophy, and psychology and its representations of race and gender. Several essays explore the show's complex relationship to transhumanism: considering the dark potential for dehumanization and abuse that lurks beneath the promise of turning bodies into temporary vessels for immortal, downloadable personalities. Though a short-lived series, Dollhouse has been hailed as one of television's most thoughtful explorations of classic science fiction themes. As the first serious treatment of this landmark show, this collection will interest science-fiction scholars and Whedon fans alike.

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About the author (2014)

Sherry Ginn teaches at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. She is the author of Our Space, Our Place: Women in the Worlds of Science Fiction Television (2005), Power and Control in the Television Worlds of Joss Whedon (2012), and The Sex Is Out of This World: The Carnal Side of Science Fiction (2012).

Alyson R. Buckman teaches American studies, film, popular culture, and multiculturalism in the Humanities and Religious Studies Department at California State University, Sacramento. Her work has appeared in the journal Slayage as well as the anthologies Investigating Firefly and Serenity, Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon, and The Joss Whedon Reader.

Heather M. Porter is a line and coordinating producer in reality television. A Whedon scholar and charter member of the Whedon Studies Association, Porter has presented at all five Slayage conferences. She is currently coproducing a documentary examining the academic study of the works of Joss Whedon.

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