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Star Wars Class May 2011
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Students Study The 'Force' of 'Star Wars'

Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 [12:21 PM]

Star Wars01
Students in "The Philosophy and Politics of Star Wars" screen Star Wars: A New Hope
in the Thomas D. Clark Reading Room.

Editor's Note: In celebration of Star Wars Day -- which is celebrated on May 4 around the world -- Lindsey Wilson College is spotlighting a class that studied the sci-fi classic this semester.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- In 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope was released in U.S. movie theaters. Within a few years, it was embedded as a staple of American culture.

Today, Star Wars has exploded into a multi-billion dollar empire that includes six feature films, an animated television series, hundreds of toys, and scores of novels and comics.

Add to philosophy and political science class to the list.

This spring semester, Lindsey Wilson College Assistant Professor of Political Science Stefan Brooks taught "The Philosophy and Politics of Star Wars" class to 25 students.

"I have always been a fan of Star Wars. As I grew older and became educated, I discovered Star Wars was rich in philosophy, politics and religion, and I realized it could be used to explore a range of complex issues," Brooks said. "Star Wars deals with issues that philosophy, politics and religion have been studying for years. Such as the ideas of liberty, justice, love, hate, betrayal, friendship and what constitutes as happiness."

During the class, students watched all six of George Lucasʼ films, and they examined the political decline of the fictional Republic and rise of the Empire while studying the stoic aspects of a Jediʼs life.

Before diving into Lucasʼ film series, students studied the philosophy of Epictetus and Plato, whose teachings helped students better understand the Jedi philosophy of Lucas' films.

"The class isn't necessarily about the movies," said sophomore Daniel Pulliam of Crestwood, Ky. "The Star Wars movies are used as a building block to better understand ancient philosophy more than anything else."

Students also analyzed the mythological aspects in Lucasʼ Star Wars story, explaining how they relate to myths from around the world.

A large part of the class involved discussions about the films' deeper meanings.

"My favorite part of the class has been the discussions with the students," Brooks said. "I have found them to be very thought-provoking.

Some of the class' students were familiar with the Star Wars saga, although some did not know a lot about the film franchise.

"I had never seen the films before, and I don't think that I could have gotten that much information about the films without the class," said senior Josh Nagode of Sheboygan, Wis.

Students who entered the class familiar with the story also pulled the same information out of the films.

"It's made me appreciate the films more. There are things to learn from the films that you don't realize until someone points it out to you," said junior Sara Keller of Greenville, Ind.

Through word of mouth, the Star Wars class has become one of the more popular on campus, and students have asked about when it will be offered again.

Reflecting on the semester, Brooks' reply was: "May the Force be with you."

 

Stefan Brooks Star Wars May 2001

"I have always been a fan of Star Wars. As I grew older and became educated, I
discovered 
Star Wars was rich in philosophy, politics and religion, and I realized it could
be used to
 explore a range of complex issues," says Assistant Professor of Political
Science Stefan Brooks.

 

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