Rambo finds literary meaning in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

June 14, 2006 | Leave a Comment

For the second time, Dr. Elizabeth Rambo, associate professor of literature at Campbell University, has presented a paper at the annual Slayage Conference, a scholarly conference dedicated to the imaginative universes of Joss Whedon, creator of the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Rambo's paper, "'Queen C' Goes to Boys' Town, or, Killing the Angel in Angel's House,"examines the nature and role of women in the series "Angel." Basing her research on 19th century poet Coventry Patmore's poem, "The Angel in the House," and an essay by author and feminist, Virginia Woolf, "Professions for Women," Rambo finds correlations between the series character, Cordelia, and both Patmore's and Woolf's ideas on womanhood as Cordelia moves from independent girl with power to a failed acting career, to three aborted impregnations by demonic powers, to receiving the gift of prophetic vision and finally to lapsing into a coma after giving birth, to awaken as an angelic vision who is really dead. "It's a familiar pattern," Rambo said. "Patmore's poem, 'The Angel in the House,' inspired by his wife Emily Augusta whom Patmore describes as the perfect wife—supportive, angelic, virtuous and almost supernaturally able to inspire him—would give Virginia Woolf the model of exactly what she could not be, if she were going to succeed in her chosen profession. In Angel's town, the independent 'queen,' Cordelia, is progressively reduced to a conventionally supportive woman, the angel in 'The Angel in the House.' Naturally, she must be killed, but not before she has sacrificed herself completely." Approximately 200 people attended the conference held at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga, and approximately 150 presentations were given. But the most encouraging factor, said Rambo, was the number of presentations made by undergraduate students, indicating that using the series as a teaching tool has become more mainstream in academics. Rambo has certainly used the series, as well as other cult hits such as "Harry Potter" and "The Matrix" to teach her English courses. She and Campbell colleague, Dr. Jaclyn Stanke, assistant professor of history, created an honors course that examines the Christian message in popular culture, using current television programs, movies and music to identify themes. Dr. Elizabeth Rambo is a medievalist and an expert on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Her paper, "Yeats' Entropic Gyre and Season Six of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'" was presented at the first international conference on "Buffy." She was also invited to become a member of the editorial board of "Slayage: the Online International Journal of Buffy Studies." She received a bachelor's degree in English from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C., and went on t earn a master's degree in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Campbell, Rambo was an associate professor of English at Biola University in La Mirada, Ca. Her paper, "Lessons' for Season Seven of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer '" appears in issue 11/12 (April 2004) of "Slayage."

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