July 13, 2024

Media Decoder: Studying How ‘Star Wars’ Mined History

George Lucas, bearded, on the set of “The Empire Strikes Back”  with Mark Hamill, left,  Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.Lucasfilm/20th Century FoxGeorge Lucas, bearded, on the set of “The Empire Strikes Back”  with Mark Hamill, left,  Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.

The events in “,” the opening credits reveal, happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” But did similar events happen before?

That is the question posed by “Star Wars and History,” a book planned for 2013 by the publisher John Wiley Sons. In an e-mail posted in June, Nancy Reagin, a history professor at Pace University, and Janice Liedl, an associate professor of history at Laurentian University in Ontario, asked their peers to submit essays that explore the parallels between world history and Star Wars history.

For example, their note to the historians of slavery sought essays “where historical examples of slavery are detailed to inform an exploration of how slavery was depicted in Star Wars (e.g., the persistence of slavery on Tatooine) and how these parallels provide historical models for the Star Wars universe.”

Professors Reagin and Liedl have worked on other books for Wiley about the historical models within the Twilight series and the Harry Potter series. But what separates this book is that it is being done in cooperation with
George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars.”

“George Lucas is a history buff, and his fascination with history greatly influenced the plot and themes explored in the Star Wars universe,” Connie Santisteban, associate editor for general interest books at Wiley, wrote in an e-mail. “Being able to work closely with Mr. Lucas on this and other books will give fans an inside look at the real science, history and political science that informed ‘Star Wars’ while also providing readers with an educational tool.”

According to the e-mails, contributors would be paid honoraria of $400 for the essays, which are expected to run 5,000 to 7,000 words. And because the project is authorized, the scholars were told that they could use “almost any photos, stills, etc. from the Star Wars corpus to illustrate their chapters that they chose.” The series will include additional books about the science and politics within the Star Wars saga.

Emilie Nicks, a spokeswoman for Lucasfilm, wrote in an e-mail that the books would really be an exploration of the historical events that influenced Mr. Lucas.

“Indeed, this is not about historians guessing or inferring what went into Star Wars, this is a book based on Lucas’s notes and input about what patterns of history actually did go into Star Wars or influence his thinking,” she wrote in response to questions. “The idea is that though the saga takes place in a galaxy far, far away, it is based on real things that have happened and that are happening in the real world.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ca0fddfe670af10a86291cd3dec1de00

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