The Force of Star Wars: Examining the Epic

This course explores the creation of the Star Wars canon, its history as a cultural phenomenon and its staying power as a story. Students will examine its genre inspirations, historical parallels, political implications, mythological echoes, and evolving multimedia forms to unpack the traditions and ideas that inspired the story – and continue to inspire it.

START:
August 24, 2015
DURATION:
12 Weeks
ID:
LITB 5307
CREDIT:
3

INSTRUCTORS:

Dr. Amy H. Sturgis
Faculty: Literature and Language Lecturer
Jessica O’Brien
Preceptor

What influenced the creation of Star Wars? What is the history of Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon? What does the Star Wars canon consist of?

As anyone who has ever staged a mock lightsaber duel or made an imaginary jump to lightspeed knows, Star Wars is a shared language that unites multiple generations across the planet. What traditions and ideas inspired that galaxy a long time ago and far, far away? How has the Star Wars universe expanded and evolved since its debut in 1977? What can we expect from its future incarnations? Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she examines the fabric of the Star Wars story and its participatory fan culture to discover the lasting meaning behind the epic and appreciate its unprecedented impact on film, fiction, and popular culture. Whether you’re a lifelong fan or a Star Wars newbie, you are welcome here. Don’t move along. This is the class you’re looking for.

Want to learn more about this class? See Dr. Sturgis’ interview on the Mythgard Blog.

Special Note

As part of this course, a guest appearance and Q&A is scheduled with Star Wars veteran John Jackson Miller, the author of the very first novel in the new Star Wars canon, Star Wars: A New Dawn (2014), as well as the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Kenobi (2013) and the popular Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2006-2010, 2012) and Star Wars: Knight Errant (2010-2012) comic series, among other Star Wars and science fiction titles.

Course Schedule

The Force of Star Wars will meet Tuesday and Friday (primary lecture and closing session) from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (UTC-5)

Week 1 – The Saga Begins

  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor (2014), Introduction-Chapter 5

Week 2 – Inspirations and Influences

  • Viewing: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 6-8

Week 3 – A New Hope

  • Viewing: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 9-14

Week 4 – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Conquers Radio

  • Viewing: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Listening: Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama (1981)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapter 15

Week 5 – Return of the Jedi

  • Viewing: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 16-18

Week 6 – The Extended Universe and Fandom

  • Reading: Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn (1991)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapter 19
  • Viewing: Troops (1997, online)

Week 7 – The Phantom Menace

  • Viewing: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 20-22

Week 8 – Attack of the Clones

  • Viewing: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapter 23

Week 9 – Revenge of the Sith

  • Viewing: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 24-25

Week 10 – Clone Wars, Rebels, and the New Canon

  • Reading: Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller (2014)
  • Reading: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (2014), Chapters 26-Conclusion

Week 11 – Why Star Wars?

  • Reading: Aftermath: Star Wars, The Journey to The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig (2015), 1st half

Week 12 – Looking Ahead to The Force Awakens

  • Reading: Aftermath (2015), 2nd half

Required Texts

Suggested Texts

Additional required reading/viewing will be available online, and suggested further reading/viewing will be listed on the class Moodle page.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

The Force of Star Wars Offerings
Semester Preceptor(s)
Fall 2015 Jessice O’Brien
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