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From Yorkshiretoday.co.uk

Conference sinks teeth into Buffy’s role in teaching

By Joanne Ginley

Thursday 26 May 2005, by Webmaster

ACADEMICS from across the globe are set to descend on a West Yorkshire university for a three-day conference looking at how TV cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be used to aid learning.

The conference will examine how people are influenced by popular culture and how the programme draws parallels with everyday life. Academics at Huddersfield University’s Department of Behavioural Sciences say the show, which first aired on TV in the late 1990s, can be used as a vital teaching aid, demonstrating issues such as a young, strong lead female character and even tackling a lesbian love affair. Nigel King, a reader in psychology at Huddersfield University, says incorporating popular culture in teaching helps get a point across quickly. "TV is a massive force in our society and I think it would be wrong to ignore its impact," he said.

But last night news of the conference was attacked by York-based Campaign for Real Education.

Chairman Nick Seaton said: "University academics should be concentrating on literature that has stood the test of time, rather than spending their time on trendy, modern TV programmes, no matter how popular.

"It’s very hard to see how it will benefit academic study." But, such is the appeal of Buffy that the three-day conference (June 29 - July 1) has attracted academics, including specialists in media studies, philosophy and psychology, from as far afield as America, Canada and Europe.

Huddersfield psychology lecturer Viv Burr believes the programme, which introduced heroine Buffy Summers, played by actress Sarah Michelle Gellar to TV screens, is thought-provoking.

Dr Burr said: "If you think about how society changes and about what’s acceptable and unacceptable, media art is to some degree responsible for that. Something that has a cult following which captures people’s imagination and raises questions, like Buffy, makes you want to know how people take up those messages and how it relates to their own life. "Even at the ordinary fan level, there is discussion about the Buffy stories

and about what the writers have been trying to do this week." Dr Louise Child, teaching assistant in the theology and religious studies department at Leeds University, welcomed the conference. She uses Buffy to explore the emotion of horror.

"It’s a remarkably well-written programme and I find it very useful because you have got a supernatural plot and then have an everyday sub-plot."

In April a conference was held at Manchester Metropolitan University, on iconic 1980s band The Smiths which attracted some of the world’s leading academics.

1 Message

  • I agree that Buffy can teach teens about every-day life and how to deal with those. I know that the kids that obsess over the show (Like I) learn a lot from it. We try to learn a lot from it. It also had me and a few other people I know get interested in psychology. But I don’t know why..