Call For Papers:  Investigating Angel

Editor: Stacey Abbott, The University of Surrey Roehampton, UK

Publisher: IB Taurus


We are seeking proposals for a collection entitled Investigating Angel.

Following the phenomenal success of the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon and fellow BtVS writer and producer David Greenwalt risked moving two of its star characters, Angel -the vampire with a soul- and the wealthy and acerbic Cordelia Chase, to their own spin-off series, Angel.  The removal of Angel, a peripheral character but significant love interest for Buffy Summers, was a risk. Would the ever-brooding Angel be of interest on his own and what would BtVS find to replace the tragic romance between vampire and Slayer that dominated its first three years?  The result was that the move enabled significant growth for both characters, expanded the Buffyverse beyond Sunnydale and introduced a radically new type of series in Angel, specifically aimed at the adult audiences who were increasingly being drawn to Buffy.

In the light of recent discussions of American Quality Television, Angel demonstrates how the commercial convention of the spin-off, designed to capitalise upon a successful formula, has been appropriated by the series’ creators to allow for an even more complex televisual experience.  Rather then simply repeating the formula of BtVS, this series established its own structure, style and themes as well enabling the writers to develop complex narratives that span across the two shows.

Recently renewed for a fifth season and with the recent conclusion to the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel is expected to take centre stage in 2003-2004. BtVS’ favourite vampire Spike has been signed to Angel while regulars from BtVS are expected to make guest appearances. As a result the series should expect transference of loyalty in the absence of Buffy. Furthermore, the climax to season four called into question all of the events of the four preceding years and ended with the team of Angel Investigations taking over the premises of their corporate nemeses, Wolfram and Hart. These events suggest the end of one era for the show and the beginning of a new format, distinct from previous seasons of Angel as well as BtVS.  This makes it an ideal time for a serious critical study of the first four years of Angel as it evolved past being an extension of the Buffy narrative into a dynamic show in its own right.

We solicit proposals for a collection of essays exploring the series Angel in its own right rather then simply as an extension of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We welcome a wide range of critical approaches from across disciplines to engage with the series’ complexity of narrative, genre, style and theme. Essays can examine both individual episodes as well as broader narrative or character arcs.

The aim of the collection will be to explore themes and aspects of the series that are specific to Angel. We would therefore particularly welcome proposals that examine the impact of locating the series in Los Angeles, the introduction of a corporate villain, Wolfram and Hart, and how the series negotiates issues of masculinity in crisis. Essays focusing on other male characters in addition to Angel are encouraged. Wherever possible, papers should consider the series’ distinct visual style alongside discussions of theme or representation, as this is an area that often gets overlooked in favour of thematic readings.

We would also welcome discussion of the series within the context of American Quality Television.  This book is part of a growing focus within academic studies upon contemporary American television, as exemplified by recent books on The X-Files, The Sopranos, The West Wing, as well as IB Taurus’ Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel (Kaveney, 2002) and its upcoming Reading Sex and the City (McCabe and Akass, forthcoming 2003).

Possible topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

Narrative and Genre in American Quality Television

City of Angel: The Fragmented Cultures of Los Angeles

Terrors of Family Life

Genre and the Masculine Crisis

Wolfram and Hart: Legal Vultures as the Biggest Big Bad

We invite contributors to submit an abstract of up to 500 words by the 15th December, 2003  to:


Or by mail to:

Dr. Stacey Abbott

Film and Television Studies

School of Humanities and Cultural Studies

University of Surrey Roehampton

Digby Stuart College

Roehampton Lane

London SW15 5PH

Please include a brief biography.

If your proposal is accepted for the collection, you will have until the 14th May, 2004 to complete it.  The book is planned for a Spring 2005 publication.

Stacey Abbott is lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Surrey Roehampton. She has written on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her PhD thesis was an examination of the modern vampire in American cinema and television.