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"That Was Nifty": Willow Rosenberg Saves the World in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The extent to which ethnicity permeates an understanding of identity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is apparent from the ways in which species difference stands in for racial or ethnic difference. However, among its many points of contact with ethnicity, one that is especially curious is the case of Willow Rosenberg's disappearing Jewishness. As a character, she shifts from nerd, to poster-child for geek-chic, she suffers from major addiction, is a lesbian and ends up as something approaching a goddess. She is also, intermittently, Jewish. The paper encourages a reading of Willow that sees her as cool and occasionally as Jewish but not necessarily as Jewish cool. To that extent, Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be read as an index of shifting sensibilities in relation to representations of Jews in popular culture whereby old stereotypes and perceptions are largely ignored, but there are not yet the necessary store of images and discourses available for young Jewish womanhood.

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