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The History and Cultural Impact of Star Wars

Welcome to the History and Cultural impact of Star Wars! In this course we are going to explore stories and media that influenced the development of Star Wars, as well as Star Wars in different media throughout the decades.

Do you need to skip ahead to Quarter 2?

Day 1

1. Read pages 1-8 of the first chapter of “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe.” Stop when you reach the section on Flash Gordon.
2. Write a paragraph about the ‘space fantasy’ genre and how it differs from science fiction.

Day 2

1. Finish reading chapter 1.
2. Read the first Flash Gordon comic series.

Day 3

1. Read from the section beginning on page 19 to the end of chapter 2.
2. Take a look at this list of some ways that Flash Gordon influenced the original Star Wars.

Day 4

1. Read pages 27-35 of “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe.” (Stop at the page break before “If you want to see where the iconic plastic armor…”)
2. Watch the video about the 501st Legion marching in the Rose Bowl parade.

Day 5

1. Read from page 81 (beginning with “By the time THX was ready…”) through the end of page 85.
2. Watch Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century. George Lucas pointed to this cartoon as an example of the fun space adventures he wanted to capture in Star Wars.

Day 6

1. Read pages 102-114 of chapter 8, “My Little Space Thing.” Stop at “In January 1975.”

Day 7

1. Continue your reading on page 114, ending on page 120.
2. Read the article and take a look at Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art.

Day 8

1. Today you are watching a feature about the role of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art in the development of Star Wars.
2. If the link above is broken, you can watch it in a series of 5 videos on this playlist.

Day 9

1. Continue your reading at the page break on page 120. Read to the end of the chapter.
2. Just for fun, watch the deleted scene showing Luke and his friends watching the space battle.

Day 10

1. Read the first half of chapter 10, “Star Wars has a Posse,” ending at the section break on page 152.

Day 11

1. Read the rest of chapter 10, “Star Wars Has a Posse.”
2. Watch the video about how ILM made special effects for the original trilogy. You will only be watching about 15 minutes of it today; stop after the section on the Death Star laser tower.

Day 12

1. Today you are going to watch Star Wars (1977).

Day 13

1. Today watch the behind the scenes documentary, The Making of Star Wars (1977).

Day 14

1. Today you are going to read part of chapter 11, “The First Reel.” Begin at the page break on page 165, and continue reading to the bottom of page 178.
2. Listen to the main theme from Star Wars.

Day 15

1. Read the rest of chapter 11 (pages 179-181).
2. Watch the original trailer for Star Wars (1976). You can see that the trailer did not quite have the finished movie in mind.

Day 16

1. Begin reading chapter 12, “Release.” Read pages 182-188.
2. Watch this short news segment about the release of Star Wars.

Day 17

1. Finish reading chapter 12. (Pages 189-195.)
2. Take a look at George Lucas’s interview with Rolling Stone from 1977. You are not required to read the whole thing.

Day 18

1. Watch season 1, episode 1 of The Toys that Made Us: Star Wars.
2. If you are not able to watch it, read chapter 13: The Accidental Empire. (p. 196)

Day 19

1. Read the beginning and end of chapter 14 (pages 208-210, and from the page break on 222-226).
2. Here is a link to the Star Wars Holiday Special. You are not required to watch the whole thing, but if you are unfamiliar with it you should watch enough to see why it didn’t do well.
3. Listen to the disco version of the Star Wars theme.

Day 20

1. Read the first half of chapter 15, “How to Exceed in Sequels.” (page 227 to the top of page 240.)

Day 21

1. Read the rest of chapter 15.

Day 22

1. Today you are going to watch The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Day 23

1. Today watch The Making of the Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Day 24

1. Watch about special effects in The Empire Strikes Back. (Begin at 15:58 and end at 45:51 when the rancor appears. Skip the Boba Fett cartoon in the middle.)

Day 25

1. Watch one more documentary on the making of Empire Strikes Back. This one is narrated by Mark Hamill!

Day 26

1. Read the first half of chapter 17, “End of the Jedi?” (page 258 to the page break on page 264.)

Day 27

1. Read the second half of chapter 17. (Page 264-271)

Day 28

1. Today you are going to watch The Return of the Jedi (1983).

Day 29

1. Today watch Star Wars Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi Documentary (1983).

Day 30

1. Watch the last part of the ILM special effects feature. (Watch from Rancor to Tydirium.)
2. Watch the Death Star under construction.
3. Watch the Endor overview.

Day 31

1. Today watch From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga (1983). There is an old ad for the original trilogy on video at the beginning.

Day 32

1. Today read the first half of chapter 18, “Between the Wars.” (Page 272 to the page break at the beginning of page 279.)

Day 33

1. Today you are going to watch Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984).

Day 34

1. Read the second half of chapter 18. (Page 279 to 285)

Day 35

1. Watch an episode of Droids (1985) and an episode of Star Wars: Ewoks (1985). Choose any episode you like.

Day 36

1. You are going to write a one page essay on the topic of your choice, as long as it pertains to something we have studied so far in this class. Today select a topic and a thesis statement to go with it. Ideas include:

  • Why did the original Star Wars trilogy become such a cultural phenomenon?
  • How did the character of Luke Skywalker illustrate the Hero’s Journey throughout the films?
  • What caused the poor success of Star Wars media following the release of Return of the Jedi?
  • How did Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda compare as mentor figures?
  • What function did R2-D2 perform in the narrative?

2. Create a new document and write your thesis statement. Try to come up with at least three supporting examples for your position. Be sure to record your thoughts.

Day 37

1. Work on your essay. Be sure to find sources and utilize quotes where applicable. You will be finishing tomorrow, so get some work done!

Day 38

1. Today finish your essay. Be sure you have an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph. Your thesis statement should be included in both the conclusion and the introduction. Make sure that your supporting examples actually relate to your thesis statement.
2. Have a parent or adult read your essay.

Day 39

1. Read chapter 19 of your book, “The Universe Expands” (pages 286-295).

Day 40

1. Read chapter 20 of your book, “The Return of the Writer” (pages 296-307).

Day 41

1. Today watch the fan-made short “Troops” (1997).

Day 42

1. Read chapter 21 of the book, “Special Addition” (pages 308-318).

Day 43

1. The changes made in the Special Editions were controversial. Some people loved them, some people hated them. Today, watch the Top 10 Worst Special Edition Changes, and then watch the Top 10 Best Special Edition Changes.

Day 44

1. Read chapter 22, “The Line” (pages 319-327).

Day 45

1. Today watch Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).

Proceed to Quarter 2.