Game of Thrones, one of the hottest series on television, leaves hundreds of critics divided on how “feminist” the show really is. Certainly the female characters, strong and weak, embody a variety of archetypes—widow queens, warrior women, damsels in distress, career women, priestesses, crones, mothers and maidens. However, the problem is that most of them play a single role without nuance—even the “strong women” have little to do besides strut about as one-note characters. This book analyzes the women and their portrayals one by one, along with their historical inspirations. Accompanying issues in television studies also appear, from the male gaze to depiction of race. How these characters are treated in the series and how they treat themselves becomes central, as many strip for the pleasure of men or are sacrificed as pawns. Some nude scenes or moments of male violence are fetishized and filmed to tantalize, while others show the women’s trauma and attempt to identify with the scene’s female perspective. The key is whether the characters break out of their traditional roles and become multidimensional.
Many are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s theory of the hero’s journey, the idea that every man from Moses to Hercules grows to adulthood while battling his alter-ego. This book explores the universal heroine’s journey as she quests through world myth. Numerous stories from cultures as varied as Chile and Vietnam reveal heroines who battle for safety and identity, thereby upsetting popular notions of the passive, gentle heroine. Only after she has defeated her dark side and reintegrated can the heroine become the bestower of wisdom, the protecting queen and arch-crone. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.
Outlander is much more than a television romance about a World War II nurse and a Jacobite soldier in a fetching kilt. The series—and the massive serial novel on which it is based—has been categorized as a period drama, adventure saga, military history and fantasy epic. Inspired by the Irish legends of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the prophecies of Brahan Seer, the storyline is filled with mythology and symbolism from around the world, from the Fair Folk and the Loch Ness monster to wendigos, ghosts, zombies and succubae. Literary references abound, from the Bible to the classics, to Shakespeare and the English romantic poets. The series is also rich with its own symbolism: heather and white roses, the dragonfly in amber, Claire’s blue vase and wedding gown, her wedding rings and pearl necklace. This book untangles the myriad of myths, legends, symbols and literary references found in the series.
A time travel epic featuring history and romance, Outlander—unlike most adventure series—is aimed at women audiences. The kilted male characters, the female narrator, the fantastic period costumes are atypical of male-gendered television. Both the show and the novels on which it is based address issues most series shy away from, like breast feeding, abortion and birth control. Role reversals are common—the powerful Claire rescues her virginal husband Jamie from sexual abuse. When the villainous Black Jack Randall displays his genitals to the heroine Jenny, she laughs. This collection of new essays examines Outlander as an exploration of what it means to be a capable 18th century woman and what it means in the modern world. As Claire explores different models of strength in both periods, Jamie comes to understand the nuances of male honor, power and alternative sexuality through the contrasting figures of Black Jack and Lord John. As the heroes negotiate the complications of marriage and life, they make discoveries about gender that resonate with modern audiences.
What is behind Outlander fever—the hit television drama’s popularity? Is it author Diana Gabaldon’s teasing posts on social media? Is it the real history reimagined? The highly emotional melodrama? Or is it the take-charge heroine and the sweet hero in a kilt? One of the show’s biggest draws is its multigenre appeal. Gabaldon—whose Outlander novels form the basis of the series—has called it science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical fiction and military fiction, depending on her audience. This collection of new essays explores the series as a romance, a ghost story, an epic journey, a cozy mystery, a comedy of manners, a gothic thriller and a feminist answer to Game of Thrones, and considers the source of its broad appeal.
The heroine’s journey echoes throughout ancient legend. Each young woman combats her dark side and emerges stronger. This quest is also a staple of American comic books. Wonder Woman with semi-divine powers gives us a new female-centered creation story. Batgirl, Batwoman and Black Widow discover their enemy is the dark mother or shadow twin, with the savagery they’ve rejected in themselves. Supergirl similarly struggles but keeps harmony with her sister. From Jessica Jones and Catwoman to the new superwomen of cutting-edge webcomics, each heroine must go into the dark, to become not a warrior but a savior. Women like Captain Marvel and Storm sacrifice all to join the ranks of superheroes, while their feminine powers and dazzling costumes reflect the most ancient tales.
The worlds of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and other modern epics feature the Chosen One—an adolescent boy who defeats the Dark Lord and battles the sorrows of the world. Television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer represents a different kind of epic—the heroine’s journey, not the hero’s. This provocative study explores how Buffy blends 1990s girl power and the path of the warrior woman with the oldest of mythic traditions. It chronicles her descent into death and subsequent return like the great goddesses of antiquity. As she sacrifices her life for the helpless, Buffy experiences the classic heroine’s quest, ascending to protector and queen in this timeless metaphor for growing into adulthood.
Throughout history, men have prayed to gods and poets have interpreted ancient myths for new audiences. But what about women? With sections on teaching and modern writing, this collection of new essays examines how modern female poets—including H.D., Louise Glück, Ruth Fainlight, Rita Dove, Sylvia Plath and others—have subverted classical expectations in interpreting such legends as Persephone, Helen and Eurydice. Other mythological figures are also explored and rewritten, including Buddhism’s Kwan Yin, Celtic Macha, the Aztecs’ Coatlicue, Pele of Hawaii, India's Sita, Sumer's Inanna, Yemonja of the Yoruba and many more.
Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany plays a host of the show’s main characters, all clones of an illegal experiment. The mighty heroines save one another and destroy the patriarchy while subverting gender expectations. The feminist clones are Sarah, who clashes with her radical feminist foster-mother; Alison, the quintessential post-feminist housewife; Cosima, a second-wave feminist lesbian; Beth, a third-wave feminist bogged down by addiction; and M.K., a fourth-wave feminist who tackles the hardships of disability through the Internet. The book explores the women’s war against corporate power and how it relates to the science and ethics surrounding cloning.
Over the past half-century Doctor Who has defined science fiction television. The women in the series—from orphans and heroic mothers to seductresses and clever teachers—flourish in their roles yet rarely surmount them. Some companions rescue the Doctor and charm viewers with their technical brilliance, while others only scream for rescue. The villainesses dazzle with their cruelty, from the Rani to Cassandra and Missy. Covering all of the series—classic and new—along with Class, K9, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, novels, comics and Big Finish Audio adventures, this book examines the women archetypes in Doctor Who.