Popular Culture Publications

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George Lucas spoke about the didactic role of cinema and about his own work being presented through the “moral megaphone” of the film industry. A considerable body of scholarship on the six-part Star Wars series argues (unconvincingly) that the franchise promoted neo-conservatism in American culture from the late 1970s onward. But there is much in Lucas’ grand space opera to suggest something more ideologically complex is going on.  Engaging with Critical and Deconstructive theories this book challenges the view of the saga as an unambiguously violent text exemplifying reactionary politics, and discusses the films’ identity politics with regard to race and gender.

Read the unedited Preface here.

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McDowell - Politics of Big Fantasy (cover).PNGBringing critical attention to a particular set of science fiction and fantasy films–Larry and Andy Wachowski’s The Matrix, George Lucas’ Star Wars saga, and Joss Whedon’s Avengers–this book utilizes a wide-ranging set of critical tools to illuminate their political ideologies, while also examining any resistant and complicating turns or byways the films may provide. What they all have in common ideologically is that they–or at least the genres they belong to–tend to be regarded as belonging to politically conservative frames of sociocultural reference. With the Star Wars saga, however, this idea is shown to be superficial and weak.

Read the book’s Introduction here.

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Star WSW_Bk_Cover2.jpgars is one of the most beloved movie series of all time, and in this book John McDowell explores the many spiritual themes that weave throughout the six films. From the Force to the dark side, the issues discussed in the films have a moral and spiritual complexity that, if paid attention to, can help us better understand our place in the world and our relation to others and to God. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, did not intend for his films to be mere entertainment, McDowell argues. Rather, he hoped his films would be used as a vehicle for moral education.  Whether discussing the Force of Good or the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, McDowell brings a fan’s enthusiasm and a theologian’s wisdom to this engaging book.

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Popular Culture Papers

  • A general reader paper from a few years ago on Star Wars’ Force – one edit needed, it was first from Arthur Lipsset’s 1963 short movie 21-87 that the term originally came.