Special Education ETDs

Publication Date



The social construction of disability posits that media play an important role in the construction of disability. Few studies have systematically examined the role of disability in film or television. Engaging in a multiple perspective analysis, this dissertation examined the role of disability in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Data were analyzed with a content analysis, a thematic analysis, and an ideological rhetorical criticism. Disability was found to be used as a tool of character, plot, and atmosphere development. The data also suggested that negative assumptions of disability, often reinforcing of stereotypes, were readily apparent in the series and identifiable via multiple methods of analysis. The results also confirmed that analyzing artifacts using unique configurations of methods can result in new and more nuanced insights into the role of disability in popular culture.


disability, social construction of disability, horror, film, buffy the vampire slayer

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Copeland, Susan

Second Committee Member

Stone, James

Third Committee Member

Witherington, David