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Fantasy Girls: Gender in the New Universe of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television [Paperback]

Elyce Rae Helford , Linda Badley , Marleen S. Barr , Hanley E. Kanar , Nicole Matthews , Farah Mendlesohn , Sharon Ney , Kent A. Ono , Sarah Projansky , Robin A. Roberts , Jessica A. Royer , Elaine M. Sciog-Lazarov , Leah R. Vande Berg , Rhonda V. Wilcox

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Book Description

May 30 2000 0847698351 978-0847698356
A new collection on women in American television in the 90s uncovers a cultural obsession with tough yet sexy heroines in mythical pasts, the "girl power" present, and utopic futures. Xena, Buffy, Sabrina, and a host of other characters have become household words, as well as icons of pop culture 'feminism.' Their popularity makes for successful programming, however, how much does this trend truly represent a contemporary feminist breakthrough? And what does it mean for feminism in the next few decades? Fantasy Girls: Navigating the New Universe of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television seeks to explore as well as challenge the power and the promises of this recent media phenomenon. Such TV programming offers the exciting opportunity to rethink established gender norms, but how far is it really pushing the limits of the status quo? Amidst the exuberant optimism of fanzines and doting fan websites, the contributors to this volume endeavor to provide us with a much needed critical analysis of this contemporary trend. These essays explore the contradictions and limitations inherent in the genre, forcing readers to take a fresh and critical look through a variety of lenses including girl power, postfeminism, cyborg feminism, disability politics, queer studies, and much more. Programs covered are Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Disney's Cinderella, Lois and Clark, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Star Trek: Voyager, The X-Files, Third Rock from the Sun, and Xena: Warrior Princess.

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Product Description


In this imaginative volume, Fantasy Girls boldly maps the emergent gender terrains characterizing new fantasy and science fiction TV. Combining close textual with rigorous theoretical analysis, this volume is the new feminist media studies at its best. It will be indispensable for teachers and scholars searching for the most up-to-date treatments of gender and television, including issues of sexuality, race, ethnicity, and the body. Fantasy Girls addresses head-on the tough issues facing feminists and others concerned with television and its impact. (Andrea Press, associate director of media studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

The essays collected in Fantasy Girls look to some of the most popular and innovative television programming of the late twentieth century to see how issues of gender are represented and imagined in the future. At their most compelling, the essays expose the operations in popular television that sometimes actively mute and at other times only selectively incorporate the force of feminist insights, particularly as these insights are quietly incorporated into the fantasy representations of gender and gender politics within science fiction. At their most critical, they indicate the powerful role of television in keeping us tethered to the categories and assumptions of the past even as we imagine the future. (Herman Gray, author of Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for 'Blackness')

The essays are consistent in quality and approach, and . . . yield astute if not necessarily novel or groundbreaking readings of the various programs. (CHOICE)

Fascinating and very readable critical anthology. (The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts)

Regardless of why you are interested in this media phenomenon,Fantasy Girls is a must-read. (Review Of Communication)

Covering television shows as diverse as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, to The X-Files, to Xena, Warrior Princess and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the essays in this collection offer a thought-provoking exploration of gender roles in today's science fiction and fantasy television programming. Anyone interested in women's changing roles in the popular media should find something of interest in this stimulating anthology. (Sherrie A. Inness, Professor of English, Miami University)

About the Author

Elyce Rae Helford is associate professor of English at Middle Tennessee State.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a seemingly sexist title for a thought provoking book Oct. 11 2006
By Daubas - Published on
Focusing on female characters in sci-fi, fantastic, fantasy TV series, FANTASY GIRLS is a collection of essays writen by scholars who are also fans and take pop culture as seriously as it should be.

The works presented here are very diverse and deal with global themes from the shows considered. However, for the average reader, ie, someone not academicly working on media/TV/cinema/women studies or sociology, the very precise and scholarly nature of the contributions might make it less enticing. This is not a mainstream book about TV series with fun anecdotes and pictures (just a disclaimer).

Contributions include an overview of sex in star trek deep space 9, an amazing piece (Sculy hits the glass ceilling) analysing gender relations in X-Files, and other clever articles on Sabrina the teenage witch, the lesbian (to be discussed) relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in Xena Warrior Princess...

The gender approach is smart and does provide exciting insights. As a french student studying in an american college I found this reading inspiring and fresh since french "élite" professors tends to consider pop culture, particularly TV as uninteresting (it is slowly changing for the best). I find it a very useful reference and a good tool, providing many leads for papers, thesis ... as well as thorrow bibliographies and webographies.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book June 13 2014
By Krystina - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting book. Shipped quickly and brand new. Would recommend this book to book clubs. Overall no issues so rated this a 5
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars love this book Jan. 9 2007
By S. Destfino - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for research on a paper I was writing and ended up using this as the main point of reference. I focused on the Xena piece and loved it, but the others are good, too.

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