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We’ve just concluded the second day of the third Slayage Conference on the works of Joss Whedon, which include TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, the film Serenity, scripts for other movies, and comics. This year, it’s in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and the group was too large for the room designated for the first keynote session, so this morning’s presentation was moved to a larger auditorium.

Why are academic types from all over the USA, Canada, Britain, and elsewhere still talking about Buffy, a show that’s been in reruns since 2003?

“It has staying power,” [conference organizer] Durand said. “It’s like I tell my students in philosophy a lot of times: We’re not so much about necessarily finding all the answers as wanting to ask better questions. `Buffy,’ I think, does that. `Buffy’ never really leaves you with nice, pat answers. You have even more questions than when you started.”

So far, almost all of the papers I’ve heard have been thought-provoking and often entertaining as well. It’s also been great to meet friends from past conferences again. Several of us had the pleasure this evening of dining with guest of honor Jeanine Basinger, who is perfectly charming, and reminds me of my favorite author, the late Dorothy Dunnett. (I got into “Buffy studies” when I presented a paper on Dunnett’s historical fiction at PCA, where I discovered other academics taking BtVS seriously.)

The last event tonight was a workshop analyzing one of the key episodes, season 4’s dream finale, “Restless,” led by Rhonda Wilcox. I’ve seen it three or four times, at least, and I still found new insights.

More tomorrow. Conference website.