This post links to all my individual Supernatural University essay posts, in the order in which they were written. Additional Supernatural University discussions take place in most, if not all, of my episode commentaries, but those tend to focus on specific episodes; the standalones tend to cover bigger topics and haven’t been easy to find. But here they all are. Hope you enjoy them!
I’ve grouped these into the seasons in which they were written. Bear in mind when they were written as you read them; each essay only references episodes that were in existence when they were written. I used to have a lot more time available for meta; as the seasons progressed, more and more of the meta became integrated into the episode commentaries.
Typecasting – Sam and Dean Meet Myers-Briggs. I analyze Dean and Sam to determine their psychological types. I think I'd change this, if I did it again!
Good, Evil, and the Problem of Pain. Here’s my thesis: Both of the boys believe absolutely in the substantive reality of Evil, but only Sam believes equally in the corresponding substantive reality of Good, making Dean’s personal universe much darker and more closed off than Sam’s. I posit that this stems from the night their mother died, and that the key factors in making the difference were the boys’ respective ages; John; and Dean himself.
Fate, Free Will, Demons, and the Winchesters. I’m postulating that Dean is right: that fate does not exist, and that the individual choices we make of our own free will – particularly, in this case, the choices that Sam and Dean make – will determine the outcome of the future.
The Personification of Good and Evil. I’m looking at the show as a whole to analyze how and why good and evil are personified in the series.
On the Nature and Abilities of Demons. This takes a look at demons through the lens of the show, summarizes some of the things we’ve learned, and opens the door to speculation on what else may be revealed.
Dean Winchester – Hymn to Breaking Strain. My thesis for this class is that the end of season one and beginning of season two have been the hymn to Dean Winchester’s breaking strain.
Being Touched. This explores how the characters themselves use touch, and how different in this regard the characters are from the actors who play them.
Father (Doesn’t Always) Know Best. My thesis for this class is that John Winchester was the fiery yellow-eyed demon’s (FYED’s) first big mistake, and that, having failed to learn the John Winchester lesson, the FYED is repeating its error with his sons.
Growing Up = Changing Perceptions. This class involves an exploration of the perceptions that Sam and Dean Winchester appear to have of each other, of themselves, and of their father, John.
The Long Arm of the Law. This seminar analyzes the non-supernatural problems confronting the brothers Winchester.
Justice, Mercy, Retribution, Redemption – Expressions of the Divine in Supernatural. The thesis of this seminar at Supernatural University is that the series does aver the existence of God and hews to generally Judeo-Christian principles, but presents the divine as more subtle and less direct than the forces of evil.
To See Ourselves As Others See Us. This class explores the perceptions that each of the Winchester brothers has of himself, and the ways in which seeing themselves from the perspectives of others either have or have not prompted them to change themselves or to take action to alter the perception of the other.
Risk and Fear. This psychology seminar at Supernatural University explores what scares us, how our perceptions of risk shape our fears, and how fear and risk impact the choices we – and Dean and Sam Winchester – make.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine. My thesis is that Dean Winchester in particular makes one heck of a therapist, because he understands at a very practical level the uses and effects of humor.
Sensory Perception. This class explores how differently the characters of Dean and Sam Winchester perceive the world around them, and how Supernatural uses their sensory impressions to affect our perception of the show.
What Makes You Who You Are? My thesis for this class is that certain things about Sam and Dean – the things driven by their respective hard-wiring – would remain the same irrespective of their life experience, but that AU/Sam and AU/Dean would be profoundly different from the men we know.
Taking the Hero’s Journey. Who are your heroes? What makes a hero? Are you a hero? Welcome to the first summer session of Supernatural University, which explores the roles that all of us play in the mythology of our own lives.
Living in the Moment: Lessons from Dean Winchester. This class begins an exploration of life lessons from each of the major characters we’ve met in Supernatural, both in terms of positive things to do and negative things to avoid, and focuses on Dean’s gift for living in the moment.
Focus on the Mission – Lessons from John Winchester. My thesis for this class is a very simple one: that John’s ability to focus on his mission goals, aided and abetted by his military background, was the key to his success as a hunter, but that it also contributed directly to his failures as a father to understand and communicate with his sons.
Understanding Changes Everything – Lessons from Sam Winchester. This class draws its inspiration not from something intrinsic to the essential character of Sam, but from the primary lesson that Sam himself has learned over the past two seasons: that facts, knowledge, and belief matter, but that understanding changes everything.
Knowledge Is Power, Wisdom Is … Something Else – Lessons From Bobby. The foundation of the class lies in what we have learned about Bobby as a fountain of knowledge and an emotional rock for the boys, and is predicated on Bobby sharing with them both knowledge and wisdom, and being aware of the difference.
What Else Is Family For? – Lessons from Ellen. Ellen and Dean both share that imperative to protect, but they pursue it in different ways. I would submit that Ellen’s approach, particularly with regard to her daughter, can teach some valuable lessons about holding on and letting go.
The Psychology of Attraction. My thesis for this class is a simple one: that when it comes to building attraction, fictional characters have a distinct advantage over people in the real world precisely because the structure and conceits of fiction provide direct insights into the hearts and souls of those characters that we don’t get into the people we meet every day.
Changing Missions, Changing Motivations. The thesis for this class is that the events of season two predicate a character shift for both brothers in the beginning of season three as or more profound than any we’ve seen before, because both their missions and their motivations have changed dramatically.
TV Psychology: Why Do You Watch What You Watch? I got to thinking about why I watch and enjoy the shows that I do, while other very popular shows often do nothing for me.
Analysis of a Mid-life Spoiler Junkie [Contains No Spoilers]. Why do some people crave spoilers, and others hate them? What drives spoiler junkies and spoiler phobes, and where are you on the continuum?
Death Becomes Him – Mortality and Dean Winchester. I explore both Dean’s and Sam’s perceptions of Dean’s approaching fate, and how they deal with it.
On Making Deals With Demons. This latest class in philosophy and psychology at Supernatural University explores the elements of deals with demons, and what defines their terms.
Keeping Secrets. I would posit that we as humans have four primary reasons for keeping certain things secret: to protect ourselves; to protect others; to fulfill demands of duty; and to preserve a tactical or strategic advantage. I would also submit that our reasons for keeping things secret relate directly both to the nature of those secrets and to our personalities, and that relationship will often dictate more than one reason for keeping or revealing a given secret.
Making Choices; Being Good or Evil. What truly defines each of us are the choices we make in our lives, including how we choose to deal with circumstances and each other. I would submit that it is those choices and the reasons for which we make them that determine whether we are good or evil. With that in mind, who and what are the characters of Supernatural, and how did they get that way?
Demon Powers, Motives, and Deals. Welcome to a session in speculative mythology at Supernatural University, in which your senior instructor will take a wild stab in the dark at analyzing what events in the progression of the story thus far might suggest about how things will proceed from here!
Supernatural Un-Book Club: Dead Man's Blood, Salvation, Devil's Trap, In My Time of Dying. Watching these four episodes from the end of the first season and the beginning of the second, I can’t blank out my knowledge of all that happened later in seasons two and three of the Winchester family story. The resonances from these episodes and across time that I particularly want to explore are the Winchesters themselves; the Colt; and Daniel Elkins.
Supernatural Un-Book Club Entry: Phantom Traveler – The Advent of Demons. My thesis is that the episode suggests that this was also the first time that Sam and Dean actually encountered demons up close and personal: drop by and see why, and whether or not you agree.
Sacrifice Yourself – Good, Evil, and Supernatural Activism. Through the example of the Winchesters, Supernatural preaches a gospel of activism, espousing the principle that discovering an evil carries with it the obligation to do something about it, and most particularly, to save other people from it no matter the cost to yourself.
All Supernatural University meta during this season are part of individual episode commentaries.
About Supernatural Season Six ... In this article, I explain why I'm not dismayed at what might transpire in season six, and the whole issue about Supernatural continuing beyond Kripke's often-cited-by-fans "five year arc."
Speculations on the Origins of Monsters And Other Insanity. I explore five potential origins of monster species; look at possibilities suggested by the nature of Purgatory; and ask the question why Samuel Campbell, of all people, was brought back to Earth.
Spectral Speculations. Let's suppose Bobby would choose to deny the Reaper and remain on Earth as a spirit after his physical death, considering that existence more meaningful than simply reliving memories as a soul in Heaven. How might Bobby make that work and avoid the trap of ghost insanity that would force other hunters – particularly the brothers – to destroy him?
Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose. I address why I'm not disturbed about the spoilers concerning what Sam did (or didn't do) after the end of season seven, and explore what in existing canon could possibly explain his choice.
Being Your Brother's Keeper. I ask how responsible we -- and Sam and Dean -- are for the wellbeing of others; how much we're obligated to give, and when we've given enough.
The Rainbow Connection, or Can You See What I See? I use psychology and physics to explore why we all see different versions of Sam and Dean, and why fandom fights over the characters will always be fruitless and never resolve into sense.
Calling All Angels. In part one of a two-part meta on angels, I look at the role angels have played and how that developed through the history of the series, including how angels relate to monsters and humans, and how I think their role has both meshed with and changed the show's "bible" over time.
Demonstration Angel. In part two of my two-part metal on angels, I look at Castiel in practical television production terms, in character development terms, and in story terms to assess why he was created, how he's been used, and why he keeps coming back from the dead.
Tragedies, Bloodlines, Legacies -- The Evolution Of The Family Business. In this discussion, I look at how the show has changed our understanding of family and the family business from its original presentation of hunting, hunters, the Winchesters, and saving people to where we stand at the beginning of season nine. It's all retcons, but retcons aren't all bad!
Staying In Love With Your Partner (Show). Advice on making your relationship with your beloved partner (show) work. :)
To be continued ... :)