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Summer SAVY 2022/Session 4 – Theory, Criticism, and the Force for Rising 5th/6th Grade

Posted by on Monday, July 11, 2022 in blog, SAVY.


My dear Padawans,

What a wonderful week!

I just want to start off by saying what an honor it has been to teach you with Mr David this week. Watching you all learn, and grow has been amazing, and I really do think some of these terms will stick with you as you continue to grow and learn.

Just to do a quick recap of today. We started with answering the question from yesterday– “What does Star Wars mean to me?”–and discussed some of the wonderful answers. We then played a round of Pew-Pew-Pew and jumped into talking with Mr David about some of our answers from the overnight question. We also talked about some of our observations from Episode 1 of the Clone Wars.

Then we segued into talking about paratext and started listing off real world examples of hegemonic ideologies like patriarchy. This led to a discussion on the 3 waves of feminism, the terms agency and McGuffin, and tropes within the science fiction genre.

ORA happened and on the return from it, we watched two different videos about gender equality within Star Wars, and within Lord of the Rings. From there we moved quickly in to discussing Cultural Studies viewpoints such as Orientalism (coined by Edward Said), Exoticism, and the racial hegemony in general in Star Wars. We then had to ask ourselves what meaning we gleaned from these observations.

We then summed up what we had learned: Formalism-> Structuralism->Semiotics->Post-Structuralism and Deconstruction-> into Surrealism, Absurdism and Dadaism. We then watched some examples of surrealism and absurdism as they related to Star Wars.

After lunch we watched another short on Surrealism and Star Wars, then you did your Student Surveys, and finally we watched two video’s that illustrated how editing–changing the structure of a piece–helped to change the meaning, and therefore saved Star Wars.

Friends–it has been a wonderful week. Best of luck in all your endeavors, and may the Force be with you.


My dear Padawans,

Great work today!

We started with a review of semiotics, and we presented the meme’s we made. We then broke those meme’s down using signification boxes to the parts of signifier, signified and sign.

Then a rousing game of Pew-Pew-Pew after which we were joined by Mr. David. We then shared a few of our memes with David and moved into a review of terms that brought us to Robert Barthes and Post-Structuralism. We learned about Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction, and how Derrida though Deconstruction was necessary because the structures we had been using so far have failed us.

This brought us to Historicism, where we talked about view a piece of art in a specific historic context and led us into talking about how we can Re-historize a piece of art by looking through lenses that didn’t use hegemonic constructs.

Well, we can’t know what those are without first talking about Hegemony (the dominant class) and looking at examples of Hegemonic ideologies. Wait! That’s another term we had to learn about today- Ideology. We then applied both terms in examining the Empire’s Hegemonic Ideologies.

Bonus points to the class for someone (other than Mr. David or I) introducing Machiavellian theory as a term for us today. Also more points for someone else connecting a British Influence to the Empire. Then we went to ORA.

After ORA we moved into learning about Imperialism and Colonialism, with new terms like Manifest Destiny, humanization, and dehumanization, and talking about how an Indigenous people is needed for Colonialism. We then went over some historical examples of Colonialism, before walking around the quad and talking notes and observing anything that might have been influenced of affected by Colonialism and bringing our observations back to Mr David. We then moved into Post Colonialism and went to lunch.

After Lunch we dove into a small pop quiz on terms we’ve covered and then watched the end of A New Hope, while keeping in mind the viewpoints we had learned today. After a discussion on examples of Colonialism, Post Colonialism and historical refences from the movie, we did another walk around the quad with Post Colonialism as our lens and discovered that there are very few modern-day structures, if any, that are unaffected by Colonialism. We then tried to unsuccessfully play a game of Pew-Pew-Pew, and instead came back inside and had a written assignment defining terms we had learned this week with examples from A New Hope.

As always, I am honored to by your Jedi Master, see you tomorrow

Mr. Tony


Hello young Padawans,

Thank you for yet another wonderful day. This morning we started off by asking about any observations you made with BS2 last night, and I was a little disappointed that you hadn’t made any. However, you made up for it when we used BS2 to break down the structure of the story of the 3 little pigs.

We then played a rousing game of Pew-Pew-Pew with our new move- “Punch it Chewie”- and sat down and joined Mr David on Zoom to recap both a bit of structuralism and formalism. That recap included looking at the three versions of identifying narrative structures we had covered so far, Aristotle’s Poetics, Blake Snyder’s 3 Act structure, and Joseph Campbell’s the Hero’s journey. We used all three types to then analyze a fun cartoon short. Which then brought us to Semiotics.

We learned that Semiotics was a line of thought created by Ferdinand Saussure, where we take forms and structures and combine them to create signs. Semiotics is defined as the study of symbols, signs, and meme-making.  We then went back to the R2-D2/BB-8 short and applied semiotics to it.

When using semiotics its best to utilize a signification box, where we show that a signifier and a signified combine to make a sign. We also discussed Slippage. We went to ORA after making signification boxes illustrating Slippage about an image of Han and Greedo.

After ORA we expanded signification boxes into signification chains. We then learned that we can almost endlessly keep adding to these chains when making one about VanGogh’s Starry Night. What a great job you all did with that exercise!

We then moved in to taking about the three things needed for meaning to exist- a receiver, content, and a creator. We then discussed which of the three provided the meaning. As we come to find out, any of them can. There is no one source of meaning out of the three. So where does meaning come from?

We learned that Roland Barthes Death of the Author states that the authors intention doesn’t make it the sole source of meaning. On this note we went to lunch.

Coming back from lunch we had more Pew-Pew-Pew, with a new force push rule, and transitioned into watching another 40 minutes of “A New Hope”. We then made signification chains about what we saw, made another chain using an aural set up (John William’s iconic Star Wars orchestration), and then spent the rest of class talking about what we had seen.

I ended the day asking you to make your own meme to show in the morning. Great job today! See you tomorrow!

Mr. Tony

Monday and Tuesday:

Hello my young Padawans,

It seems like our previous transmission was intercepted by the Empire, so today’s will sum up both yesterday’s and today’s events.


We spent some time learning about the concept map, navigating a name game, and went right into meeting Jedi Master David over Zoom. We then watched his fascinating PowerPoint about Star Wars and its history, and basically gave us a mini layout for the theories we will cover in this class. We then went to ORA, came back, and learned how to play Pew-Pew-Pew.

After playing that focus game we then dove right into formalism and learning how to break things down into “just the ingredients”. We practiced this on a couple of images with Mr. David, then went to lunch. After lunch we broke down a couple more images in a formalist way, and then began watching “A New Hope”, analyzing the first 17 minutes of the movie from a formalist viewpoint.


Today’s class began with a discussion on what we discovered overnight when observing shows, games, or even objects through a formalist lens. We then played a round of Pew-Pew-Pew and joined Mr David to start talking about formalisms shortcomings and how we can use the basic “forms” things break down into, to make “structures” to apply meaning- Voila! Structuralism.

We then did exercises in the three-part story, once we learned what it was, and made our own drawings of stories that had parts described in Aristotle’s Poetics- the beginning, the middle, and the end. Blake Snyder’s name for these parts we learned are Thesis-Antithesis- Synthesis. The last two ideas we learned about before ORA were Theme and Motif.

After ORA and before lunch we touched upon Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey, and the idea of the Monomyth. We then learned about the 15 points in Blake Snyder’s BS2, or the “Save the Cat” Beats. We analyzed a scene from “How To Train your Dragon” using those beats and then went to Lunch.

After lunch we played and learned new rules for Pew-Pew-Pew, analyzed a scene from “Iron Man”, and then watched about 40 minutes of “A New Hope” that we then analyzed with the BS2 beat sheet.

You are all working so hard and making this Jedi Master proud- see you tomorrow-

Tony Nappo

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