Today we celebrate International Star Wars Day once again: “May the Fourth Be with You”!
It feels like my last newsletter was a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away. And it was—from a certain point of view: it was a year ago, and I was still living in Abu Dhabi and teaching at NYU’s campus there.
In the intervening year, I’ve returned back to the mothership—NYU’s campus in New York—and this year I’ve taught a version of the “Global Shakespeare” course that I developed at NYUAD and a revival of the old NYU lecture course “Writing New York,” which my colleague Bryan Waterman and I first taught twenty years ago (!). It was conceived in the aftermath of 9/11 as a course on New York literature and culture. Because we were both returning to New York after a decade or so at NYUAD, it seem like a good time for Bryan and me to strike up the band once again. I'll be writing about the experience of rebooting the course—and the challenges involved in my exile-and-return story—in the not-too-distant future.
Since the last newsletter, I went to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in late May 2022 (with a visit afterwards to Galaxy's Edgeat Disneyland) and Star Wars Celebration Europe last month in London, both of which have helped me to think about my current Star Wars project, an anthology of essays called “From Lucas to Disney: Star Wars in the Twenty-First Century,” which I am co-editing with the legendary pop-culture scholar Douglas Brode and NYUAD alum Jamie Gabrielle Viray Uy, who is currently a master’s student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
INTERNATIONAL STAR WARS DAY
Let's start with Disney’s official video marking the occasion.
MY LATEST STAR WARS PODCAST EPISODE
Last fall, I was invited by Kevin Ramsey, the Director of Communications at Trinity School, which I attended from the first to the twelfth grade, to do a podcast about my book Lucasfilm for the school's “Podmissisum” series of conversations with authors who are alumni of the school.
Kevin was a great interlocutor, and I had a lot of fun talking to him about Star Wars, high school memories, and quite a number of other topics. The podcast is now available here, just in time for May the Fourth.
And, for further discussion of Star Wars and my book Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe (Bloomsbury), check out the following: The Way Podcast, hosted by Bill Troveski; Galina Limorenko's
interview with me for the New Books Network; and my session with Skeptics in the Pub Online.
JAMIE UY ON STAR WARS FOOD
In past newsletters, I’ve featured writing by NYUAD students who were in my Spring 2021 seminar Global Text: Star Wars. Jamie Uy was one of those students, and I was also fortunate enough to be the advisor for her capstone, “Star Wars and the Eco-Politics Of Survival.” Jamie is currently finishing up a master’s degree at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and in addition to co-editing the collection that I mentioned above, she has published a revised version of her seminar paper in the refereed online journal Transformative Works and Culture. The essay is called “Green Milk: The Environmental Eatymologies of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge,” and you can read it here. The keywords that accompany the piece will give you a sense of the approach that Jamie takes to the subject: “Disney, Ecocriticism, Fan studies, Food studies, Lucasfilm, Material fan practices, Theme parks, Transmedia” Bonus: the piece makes use of photos that I took during my visit to Galaxy's Edge.
To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the release of the third Star Wars film, Return of Jedi, Lucasfilm and Disney put the film back in theaters last weekend. I was lucky enough to see it, and I wrote a piece called “Exile and Return (of the Jedi): Yes, Luke, You Can Make Friends after 30” in anticipation of the screening. You can find it here on Medium.
The anniversary, ahem, happens to coincide roughly with the fortieth anniversary of my graduation from college, a fact that is one of the subjects of the Medium piece.
I'll be writing more pieces inspired by Return of the Jedi between now and the actual anniversary, which is May 25. If you like what you read and you're a Medium member, please “follow” me on that platform. I’ve got a number of pieces queued up for the platform. No, they are not all about Star Wars.
STAR WARS VISIONS, VOLUME 2
Finally, I’m working on a new essay about Star Wars as a “global text,” so I'm particularly excited to begin watching the second series of Star Wars Visions. The first was a collaboration between Lucasfilm and a variety of Japanese anime studios. The second series broadens the partnerships to various locations around the world. I was lucky enough to see the episode created by Aardman Animation (of Wallace and Gromit fame) at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and the mash-up of the Star Wars and Aardman sensibilities was a delight. Highly recommended if you have Disney+. The trailer below will give you a sense of the overall project, while this article in Entertainment Weekly will give you a sense of the globalization of the series.
Next Issue: I'm Not Promising Yet (Didn't work out so well the last time.)
As Yoda says in The Empire Strikes Back:
“Difficult to see; always in motion is the future.”
Email me at email@example.com.
I'd love to hear your ideas and questions about Star Wars, as well as film, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies!