The Afterlife of Genre: Remnants of the Trauerspiel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

California and television, as it were, conspire in a vampirologic: the forever-young is what has been there the longest, what really “takes us back.” And so we also will take ourselves back: to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, already almost charmingly quaint, and Walter Benjamin’s magnum opus The Origin of the German Mourning-Play. What can come of this improbable conjunction? It will not seem too strange that Benjamin, posthumous wanderer across the textures of Americana, should again take up lodging at the Hotel California. But more is at stake than just another hapless visitation from the on high of high theory: reading Buffy as the remediated afterlife of the dead-on-arrival genre of the baroque German mourning play, Adler’s book records the first broken, awkward steps toward a project that, with the recent rise of “quality television,” seems more urgent than ever before: a political-theological characteristic of the television series.