Event Title

Someone Has To Save Our Skins: Gender And Trauma In "Star Wars"

Location

SU 124

Start Date

19-4-2019 10:40 AM

Department

English

Session

Session 4

Description

Using multiple theories of film, trauma, and feminism, including works by Linton Davies, Michael Brooker, Chris Taylor, and Cathy Carruth, this paper will explore the intersection of gender and trauma within the Star Wars film franchise. Focusing on Princess Leia and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, this paper will use a close reading of the film's formal elements (such as shot length, depth of field, close-up versus wide shots, and quick cutting) to develop and support an argument for the movie's denial of the multiple and serious traumas experienced by Leia through its refusal to devote screen time to the character's reaction to and processing of said traumas. While this refusal can be classed as a particular trope of the space opera and fantasy genres as they operated in 1977, this paper will argue that the film's treatment of its characters' experiences of trauma is severely unbalanced along gender lines. Additionally, this paper will turn to the recent sequels in the franchise, especially Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, to demonstrate how they improve upon and complicate the gendered depictions and denials of trauma present in the original 1977 film. Acknowledging how Star Wars was an important step in so many directions, and how Leia, with her blaster, her non- sexualized appearance, and her arc that oozed agency, was a giant leap in feminist representation, whether or not the film spent any screen time on the necessary processing of the many traumas she experienced, this paper will emphasize the importance of casting a critical eye on the media we consume, not only to understand its place in our historical context, but to better imagine future pathways. Without the critical eye, our popular culture will not grow and progress. This paper will argue that the many creators of Star Wars, across multiple media and over decades of work and imagining, clearly have employed and continue to employ a critical eye to their beloved franchise, and how this application of a critical lens to popular culture allows us to understand the leap in representations of gender and trauma in A New Hope to that in The Last Jedi, and to envision the better balanced and more accurately representative depictions to come. Finally, this paper will wonder about the future of the franchise and its representation of gender and trauma, asking important questions about fan interactions outside of the films and the ways in which the franchise itself is used to perpetuate gendered trauma in the larger world.

Comments

Ryan Poll is the faculty sponsor for this project.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 19th, 10:40 AM

Someone Has To Save Our Skins: Gender And Trauma In "Star Wars"

SU 124

Using multiple theories of film, trauma, and feminism, including works by Linton Davies, Michael Brooker, Chris Taylor, and Cathy Carruth, this paper will explore the intersection of gender and trauma within the Star Wars film franchise. Focusing on Princess Leia and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, this paper will use a close reading of the film's formal elements (such as shot length, depth of field, close-up versus wide shots, and quick cutting) to develop and support an argument for the movie's denial of the multiple and serious traumas experienced by Leia through its refusal to devote screen time to the character's reaction to and processing of said traumas. While this refusal can be classed as a particular trope of the space opera and fantasy genres as they operated in 1977, this paper will argue that the film's treatment of its characters' experiences of trauma is severely unbalanced along gender lines. Additionally, this paper will turn to the recent sequels in the franchise, especially Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, to demonstrate how they improve upon and complicate the gendered depictions and denials of trauma present in the original 1977 film. Acknowledging how Star Wars was an important step in so many directions, and how Leia, with her blaster, her non- sexualized appearance, and her arc that oozed agency, was a giant leap in feminist representation, whether or not the film spent any screen time on the necessary processing of the many traumas she experienced, this paper will emphasize the importance of casting a critical eye on the media we consume, not only to understand its place in our historical context, but to better imagine future pathways. Without the critical eye, our popular culture will not grow and progress. This paper will argue that the many creators of Star Wars, across multiple media and over decades of work and imagining, clearly have employed and continue to employ a critical eye to their beloved franchise, and how this application of a critical lens to popular culture allows us to understand the leap in representations of gender and trauma in A New Hope to that in The Last Jedi, and to envision the better balanced and more accurately representative depictions to come. Finally, this paper will wonder about the future of the franchise and its representation of gender and trauma, asking important questions about fan interactions outside of the films and the ways in which the franchise itself is used to perpetuate gendered trauma in the larger world.