In this spoiler-free episode, Newberry seminars instructor Harrison Sherrod discusses how Star Wars helps us understand history, religion, and humanity’s place in the world.
0:56 – Why mythological undercurrents, detailed worlds, and beloved characters make Star Wars resonate.
3:32 – Harrison discusses the study of mythology and how Joseph Campbell influenced George Lucas in creating Star Wars, a “seminal text of Hollywood.”
6:54 – How can we define mythology, and what is the distinction between myth and religion? Why is it important to Campbell to have mythology for the modern era?
9:54 – Why should we be taking Star Wars seriously for study and why think about it within the framework of myth and religion?
15:33 – At the Newberry, we’ve been talking about the Reformation and Counter-Reformation a lot recently, and there are some rather obvious parallels (a man from a backwater challenging an empire). So how can Star Wars help us interpret historical moments like this? And vice versa: how do those moments, like the Reformation, help us understand Star Wars?
21:36 – Harrison discusses other potential readings of Star Wars with a historical lens, and unexpected character parallels makes him question who we should see as the heroes.
23:39 – How do other religious narratives and traditions manifest in the films?
28:29 – Harrison discusses how Star Wars helps people make sense of their own stories, and reawakens a sense of wonder at epic myth.
31:01 – Harrison and Jamie make some light, spoiler-free predictions before they see the new film in the Star Wars franchise.