Vampire criticism: Slayage and Angel; Holly Black’s Coldtown

Angel, the tormented ‘vampire with a soul’, was, through his love affair with Buffy in Joss Whedon’s TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997‒2003), one significant archetype of the romantic vampire of paranormal romance. Whedon then developed his character further in the brilliant noir spin-off series, Angel (1999‒2004). The online journal Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies has now published the first special issue devoted to the series (17.2 [50], Summer / Fall 2019). There are some brilliant articles here (and an excellent introduction by Stacey Abbott), covering domestic space and noir, intertextuality with the Orpheus myth, Angel’s altruism and existentialist ethics, disability and redemption, embodiment, and the place of Angel in Whedon’s later work.

I have my own essay (thanks to Stacey Abbott and Simon Brown for their encouragement and attentive editing!), ‘“Through a glass darkly”: Reflection, Representation, and Mortality in “Eternity”’. In this I take the prevalent motif of the vampire not being reflected in mirrors and analyse the episode ‘Eternity’ (1.17), drawing on Sam George’s research into shadows and reflections. I see this episode as dramatising the vampiric, utopian appeal of eternal life and beauty and how that is connected to the commodification of fictional representation in the very media that Angel is presented in.

I have some further research on vampires which is in the process of publication. In my chapter ‘Genre mutation in YA Gothic: the dialectics of dystopia and romance in Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’, I examine the ways that genres mutate and interpenetrate to create new forms. Black’s novel sets up an encounter of the YA dystopia (in the wake of Hunger Games) with the vampire romance. I show how the emancipatory humanism that can be found in paranormal romance is set against a devastating critique of the vampiric condition of neoliberal capitalism—an era of paranoia, universal surveillance, and the reduction of everything human to commodities.

Black’s Coldtown novel is a set text on Sam’s BA module ‘Generation Dead: Young Adult Fiction and the Gothic’, so this may be helpful for students on that course. The chapter will be appearing in a collection of essays on YA Gothic edited by Michelle Smith and Kristine Moruzi, Young Adult Gothic Fiction: Monstrous Selves/Monstrous Others (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2020). The link above is to a prepublication version in the Resources section of our site, so be aware that it may differ from the published article.

About William the Bloody

Cat lover. 18C scholar on the dialogue and novel. Co-convenor OGOM Project
This entry was posted in Generation Dead: YA Fiction and the Gothic news, OGOM Research, Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Vampire criticism: Slayage and Angel; Holly Black’s Coldtown

  1. Excellent research material here. Love this post!

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