Transformative souls and transformed selves : 'Buffy', 'Angel' and the daimonic tale

Reynolds, James (2019) Transformative souls and transformed selves : 'Buffy', 'Angel' and the daimonic tale. In: Cusack, Carole M. , Morehead, John W. and Robertson, Venetia Laura Delano, (eds.) The sacred in fantastic fandom : essays on the intersection of religion and pop culture. Jefferson, U.S. : McFarland and Company. pp. 119-135. ISBN 9781476670836


This essay explores one of the most significant factors in the continuing appeal of Buffy and Angel — the features of the sacred they employ in narrative arcs of character development, and the ritualistic interaction this creates with fans of the television shows. I argue that Buffy and Angel’s deployment of the idea of the soul produces a distinctive approach to identity, and I here use the concept of the daimonic as a framework for textual analysis. Their distinctive approach to identity begins with the idea of the soul as an essential self that can be separated from the body and relocated. These transportable identities support particular types of narrative, and thus help in recognising why these shows continue to appeal. These divisible and changeable selves also help us to understand the Buffy-verse’s style of horror. In combination, these features help us appreciate not only the ritual of watching and re-watching, but also the ways in which Buffy and Angel bring the religious themes of ancient, spiritual traditions into popular culture and fandom—with vital contemporaneity.

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