Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling

Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling

Sean Guynes and Dan Hassler-Forest, editors
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
Transmedia Series

Reviewed in Science Fiction StudiesExtrapolationJournal of the Fantastic in the Arts

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Star Wars has reached more than three generations of casual and hardcore fans alike, and as a result many of the producers of franchised Star Wars texts (films, television, comics, novels, games, and more) over the past four decades have been fans-turned-creators. Yet despite its dominant cultural and industrial positions, Star Wars has rarely been the topic of sustained critical work. Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling offers a corrective to this oversight by curating essays from a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars in order to bring Star Wars and its transmedia narratives more fully into the fold of media and cultural studies.

The collection places Star Wars at the center of those studies’ projects by examining video games, novels and novelizations, comics, advertising practices, television shows, franchising models, aesthetic and economic decisions, fandom and cultural responses, and other aspects of Star Wars and its world-building in their multiple contexts of production, distribution, and reception. In emphasizing that Star Wars is both a media franchise and a transmedia storyworld, Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling demonstrates the ways in which transmedia storytelling and the industrial logic of media franchising have developed in concert over the past four decades, as multinational corporations have become the central means for subsidizing, profiting from, and selling modes of immersive storyworlds to global audiences. By taking this dual approach, the book focuses on the interconnected nature of corporate production, fan consumption, and transmedia world-building. As such, this collection grapples with the historical, cultural, aesthetic, and political-economic implications of the relationship between media franchising and transmedia storytelling as they are seen at work in the world’s most profitable transmedia franchise.


Introduction: “‘What Is this Strange World We’ve Come to?”

Foreword: Henry Jenkins and Dan Hassler-Forest, “I Have a Bad Feeling About This”: Introducing the Star Wars Storyworld

Part I. “First Steps into a Larger World”: Establishing the Storyworld

Matthew Freeman, From Sequel to Quasi-Novelization: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and the 1970s Culture of Transmedia Contingency

Tara Lomax, “Thank the Maker!”: George Lucas, Lucasfilm, and the Legends of Transtextual Authorship across the Star Wars Franchise

Stefan Hall, Franchising Empire: Parker Bros., Atari, and the Rise of LucasArts

Jeremy Webster, Han Leia Shot First: Transmedia Storytelling and the National Public Radio Dramatization of Star Wars

Drew Morton, “You must feel the force around you!”: Death Star Trench Running as Transmedia Play

Thomas van Parys, Another Canon, Another Time: The Novelizations of the Star Wars Films

Part II. “Never Tell Me the Odds”: Expanding the Universe

Lincoln Geraghty, Transmedia Character Building: Tracking Crossovers in the Star Wars Universe

Beatriz Bartolomé Herrera and Philipp Dominik Keidl, How Star Wars Became Museological: Transmedia Storytelling and Imaginary World Building in the Exhibition Space

Sean Guynes, Publishing the New Jedi Order: Media Industries Collaboration and the Franchise Novel

Jonathan Rey Lee, The Digitizing Force of Decipher’s Star Wars: Customizable Card Game

Mark J.P. Wolf, Adapting the Death Star into LEGO: The Case of LEGO Set #10188

Andrew M. Butler, Invoking the Holy Trilogy: Star Wars in in the Askewniverse

Cody Mejeur, Chasing Wild Space: Narrative Outsides and World-Building Frontiers in the Old Republic Video Games

Part III. “More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine”: Consolidating the Franchise

Megen de Bruin-Molé, Space Bitches, Witches, and Kick-Ass Princesses: Star Wars and Popular Feminism

Matt Hills, Transmedia Under One Roof: The Star Wars Celebration as a Convergence Event

Allison Whitney, Formatting Nostalgia: IMAX Expansions of the Star Wars Franchise

Gerry Canavan, Fandom Edits: Rogue One and the New Star Wars

Derek R. Sweet, Some People Call Him a Space Cowboy: Kanan Jarrus, Outer Rim Justice, and the Legitimization of The Obama Doctrine

Heather Urbanski, The Kiss Goodnight from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Experiencing Star Wars as a Fan-Scholar on Disney Property

Afterword: Will Brooker and Dan Hassler-Forest, “You’ll find I’m Full of Surprises”: The Future of Star Wars