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July 17 , 2007

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity


Although it lasted barely more than a season, Dollhouse continues to intrigue viewers as one of Joss Whedon’s most provocative forays into television. The program centered on men and women who have their memories and personalities repeatedly wiped and replaced with new ones by a shadowy corporation dedicated to “fulfilling the whims of the rich.” This chilling scenario was used to tell stories about big issues—power and resistance, freedom and servitude, class and gender—while always returning to its central themes of identity and individuality.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity, Sherry Ginn, Alyson R. Buckman, and Heather M. Porter bring together fourteen diverse essays that showcase the series’ complex vision of the future. Contributors probe deeply into the fictional universe of the show by considering the motives of the wealthy clients and asking what love means when personalities are continually remade. Other essays consider the show’s relations to politics, philosophy, and psychology and its representations of race and gender. Several essays explore the show’s complex relationship to transhumanism: considering the dark potential for dehumanization and abuse that lurks beneath the promise of turning bodies into temporary vessels for immortal, downloadable personalities.

Though a short-lived series,
Dollhouse has been hailed as one of television’s most thoughtful explorations of classic science fiction themes. As the first serious treatment of this landmark show, this collection will interest science-fiction scholars and Whedon fans alike.
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