Taking a bite out of "Buffy": Carnivalesque play and resistance in fan fiction


  • Amanda L. Hodges Newberry College
  • Laurel P. Richmond The University of Georgia




Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carnival, Judith Butler, Mikhail Bakhtin, Popular culture


Popular culture provides a vital point of entry to examine discourses of hegemony and resistance at work within the growing culture of fandom. Drawing from epistemologies of feminism and poststructuralism, we deconstruct how fans read, co-construct, apply, and reenvision texts as they navigate societal notions of gender in their own constructions of subjectivity. We discuss subversive examples of sexuality and gender found in American popular culture, particularly the portrayal of femininity in the character of Faith, the bad girl from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Such examples are important because they impart crucial hegemonic lessons that may then be played out in everyday life. By focusing on the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we examine the discourses of risk at play within the source text, fan sites, and online fan fiction. Bakhtin's ideas of carnival drive much of fan fiction, and Foucault's analysis of power relations as well as Butler's theories of performativity contribute to play that affords dynamic, critical perspectives with which to interrogate social metanarratives and their impact on the subject.