My first essay about Star Wars has been formally published and I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!

My essay, “Mara Jade, Frontier Woman: Agency in Star Wars and Influencing the Transmedia Franchise”, was included in an awesome collection called Women’s Space: Essays on Female Characters in the 21st Century Science Fiction Western that just came out last month.

If you want to read more academic analyses of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I enjoyed reading Jenna Davis’s essay “Darth Bane: The Monomyth’s Dark Liberator”, and I’m currently working my way through Eamon Reid’s dissertation “Wretched Hives of Scum and Villainy: The Representation of Class within the Star Wars Universe”. I also want to read Valerie Estelle Frankel’s book Star Wars Meets the Eras of Feminism: Weighing All the Galaxy’s Women Great and Small, which was published in late 2018 after I turned in the final draft of my Mara Jade essay.

Some background on why I wrote this essay:

I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan for… wow… just about 20 years… and… and I haven’t done the math on that in a while… Anyway, I grew up with the original Star Wars Expanded Universe books, and as much as I’m enjoying the experience of discovering the new Star Wars canon that began in 2012, the historian in me hates to see the past rewritten.

Thus, as is my duty as a historian and librarian to appreciate the value of what came before and paved the way for the present and future, I decided to start doing some research papers highlighting the original Star Wars Expanded Universe. Fun fact to know and share, at the time I started researching, almost all academic discussion of Star Wars was movie-centric and involved discussions of either Joseph Campbell’s mythical archetypes, religion, and/or the Star Wars fandom. I found this disturbing given the hundreds of Star Wars books, comics, and other media published since the franchise began in 1977.

Sometime around late 2015 or so, I started foundational research for a paper on Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Empire’s greatest strategist. (I began before they’d announced that Thrawn would be appearing in the Star Wars: Rebels series.) Why Thrawn? To me, he is/was the most iconic old Star Wars EU character, and my goal was to highlight how awesome some of the characters in the old EU were before they could be forgotten.

To conduct my research, I relied on access to my local university’s library and databases, my public library’s interlibrary loan system (which enabled me to obtain sources from across the country), and Google Scholar. When the call for papers for Women’s Space went out, I had completed about a two thirds or so of the research I needed into the Star Wars EU and Thrawn (or so I thought)… and as I read the call for papers, I realized, Wait a second… I could take the research I’ve done, do a bit more research into Mara Jade, and submit a paper on her as a space western character!

Mara Jade is a badass and is one of my favorite female characters. She was introduced to the original Star Wars EU in 1991, in the same books as Thrawn, so a lot my Star Wars contextual research was done. I had to brush up on academic analyses of the Space Western in science fiction, female characters in Western genre fiction, and actual experiences of women who lived in the American West. I’m a historian, but my focus has typically been on colonization of the Americas, not US expansion in the 1800s. I ended up doing far more research than I anticipated, but it was 100% worth it, and I’m extremely proud of the finished essay!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.