Skip to main content

Summer SAVY Session 3, Day 2 – Theory, Criticism, and The Force: An Academic Study of Star Wars

Posted by on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 2: Students of Theory, Criticism, and The Force:

Thank you for today’s session! Wow, we covered a LOT of content today. Congratulations on deftly dancing a nimble dance with some complicated pedagogy!

We began our day with a revisit of our Five Agreements. I’m so heartened to see and hear the students’ investment in the culture we want to foster in our little polis.  I appreciate them signing their names to the agreement; I’m looking at it now, hanging in the corner of our room, and I find myself eagerly looking forward to tomorrow morning.

We returned to the game Pew! Pew! Pew! The students have the basics under their belts, and we’ve already managed to integrate six general moves. Make no mistake: there is complexity and strategy to this game, and the more we play the more comfortable I know they’re going to become with its dynamics. The game teaches spontaneity, discipline, community, and structure, but it is also a lot of fun. Tomorrow we will introduce a few more moves… Will it be The Grogu? The Carbon Freeze? The Utini?

After our game, students built a concept map designed to evaluate their existing knowledge base, as well as illuminate unexpected ways of bridging concepts related to our coursework. I’ve glanced through their maps, and I have to say: they are creative and contemplative, and I know that we’re going to do wonderful things in the next three days.

Today’s focus was largely on the broader discipline of Structuralism. We talked a lot about the Aristotelean three-part structure, and students built story models to illustrate their understanding of core concepts. We then put Aristotle in juxtaposition with Joseph Campbell and Blake Snyder, synthesizing the three-part story structures attributed to each scholar. Students know their Departure, Initiation, and Return from the Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis!

We ended the day with the headiest of concepts: The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, or the BS2. This reimagining of Joseph Campbell’s monomythic story structure is a handy little tool, and I promise that if students become comfortable with its twists and turns, they’ll start to see the BS2 everywhere they look. It’s not just a pattern found in How to Train Your Dragon and Into the Spider-Verse. It is ubiquitous, and over the next few days, we’re going to apply it to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.  

Oh, yeah. We also watched some Star Wars. Luke had a heck of a day, didn’t he? One minute you’re a moisture farmer, dreaming of the stars… and the next minute you’re riding shotgun to a Wookie while caught in a tractor beam. How will things sort out for Mr. Skywalker? Will he learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like his father? Will Princess Leia ever escape from cell block 21-87? Will Chewbacca get to finish that game of Dejarik? We’ll see.

Get some rest tonight. We have a big day tomorrow, as we finish up with Structuralism – Semiotics is on deck! – and then move on to the really wild stuff…