First Advisor

Josh Epstein

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in English and University Honors






Buffy the vampire slayer (Television program), Stereotypes (Social psychology) on television, Racism




This thesis engages the construction of race within the television landscape of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to investigate how well-meaning, progressive media either reinvents or repudiates racial stereotype. This paper also examines the figure of the Other, as it is evoked in horror, and utilizes Hazel Carby's conception of the fantasized black subject to analyze the setting and characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with an eye towards the inherent assumptions the show makes about race. Ultimately, I argue that Buffy's representation of race assumes a white normality, flattening its non-white characters under the guise of inherent difference, even as it adopts a post-racial philosophy. My investigation involves a visual analysis of the show's lighting and makeup, referencing Richard Dyer's "Lighting for Whiteness," and a textual analysis of non-white characters interacting with the white normality of Buffy's fiction, based of both Carby's and Barbara Jeanne Fields' theories of racial ideology. In the end, this analysis of Buffy aims to critique the well-meaning post-racial world view common to contemporary popular media, as well as examining how the television series constructs a white default despite its best progressive efforts.


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