Profile of a FWIS: Star Wars and the Writing of Popular Culture


FWIS 123: Star Wars and the Writing of Popular Culture

An interview with Dave Messmer, Instructor

What do you think is interesting/distinctive about this FWIS course?
I'm guessing that having "Star Wars" in the title will get a lot of attention, but what I think will really be interesting about the course is the variety of academic perspectives that we are able to bring to bear on these films.  I'm guessing that most students have seen some or all of the movies (though I'd love to have some people in the class who haven't), but we're going to look at them in ways that might be surprising and unfamiliar to even the most avid Star Wars fan.

How did you get interested in this particular topic?
Well, I grew up in the early eighties, so being a Star Wars fan was basically a requirement.  But unlike a lot of the other childhood fads that I lived through, Star Wars has endured, both in the popular imagination and in mine.  Why this particular phenomenon has lasted this long is and what is at stake in that persistence is an interesting intellectual question that I'm eager to explore, especially with a generation of students whose exposure to the films will certainly be different than mine.

What, specifically, are you excited about teaching in your FWIS this semester?
We're going to start with the original, theatrical releases of the first three films, not the special editions from the 1990s.  The original versions are what I grew up watching, but they're really hard to find these days.  I'm excited to see how students react to them but, more importantly, I'm looking forward to discussions about what is at stake in revising these films.  They offer a unique opportunity to ask questions about the cultural ownership of media and the role of commerce in the production of art.