Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



My aim in writing this thesis was to show that, contrary to the underlying themes of most critical approaches to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is more to be gained by approaching the series from a poststructuralist, postmodern feminist perspective, an approach that is aligned with the works of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault. From this approach, one can see that the show’s rhetoric suggests gender is an unfixed, discursively constructed phenomenon, rather than a static oppositional masculine/feminine binary. The show’s subversive rhetoric is indicative of its agency, which can also be identified by the impact BtVS has had on the popular culture landscape. In my thesis, I first analyze the poststructuralist aspects of the show’s content, such as the nontraditional gender and sexual performances of the characters Buffy, Willow, and Xander, before then tracing the agency of the show. This includes an analysis of the agency within the content of the rhetoric, such as a subversion of traditional rhetorical binaries, as well as the agency of the form of the series, whose long-form serial narrative nature and subversive character work create a novel discursive structure that is still used today. Ultimately, the rhetoric of the show creates space in society for traditionally marginalized performances of identity, subtly pushing society towards a greater acceptance of diversity.