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It's Officially 'Star Wars' Studies Season

Yes, this is a thing.
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(Photo: Lucasfilm)

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Like Han Solo coming out of a his carbonite prisonStar Wars is finally re-joining us.

That is to say, it feels like we've been waiting an eternity to see the seventh installment in the Star Wars saga—the J.J. Abrams-directed Force Awakens. (In case you missed the joke: Han Solo is stuck in that carbonite casing for a long time. Although, to be honest, if you didn't get it, you can just stop reading here; this story probably won't do much for you.)

With the world waiting impatiently for this newest entry, there have been plenty of opportunities to ruminate over the franchise's myriad excitements and disappointments.

Also, there's been time to re-visit lots and lots of weird Star Wars research.

As it happens, there have been nearly 1,000 scholarly papers published on Skywalker and Co. since the first film was released in 1977, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters.

Here are our three picks for the weirdest Star Wars studies of the bunch:

  • A 2015 essay arguing that the Star Wars franchise "derives much of its meaning by tapping into the age-old discourse of political freedom versus dictatorial oppression, which is at the core of early imperial re-imaginings of the Roman Republic." In non-academic terms: Star Wars ripped off the Romans. A plausible reading that enriches our experience of the films! Or at least a chance to stroke your chin.
  • Turns out the most heavily cited study is actually pretty cool: In 2011, a team of researchers "produced a structure with a central sphere bracketed by two vertical, panel-like appendages: a nano-sized version of an iconic Imperial Tie Fighter. Far from frivolous, as the team notes, the design affords the combining of compounds that have application in harvesting energy from light," as the Thompson Reuters report explains. Using Star Wars to analyze energy saving solutions—just as your engineering professor would have wanted.
  • A 2011 study determined that Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, totally met the criteria for borderline personality disorder. (Bonus: J. Welsey Judd wrote about a series of papers last year that addressed psychotic disorders in the Star Wars universe as a whole. Among the diagnoses: Luke Skywalker suffers from adolescent depression, Lando Calrissian is a pathological gambler, and Jabba the Hutt is just a complete psychopath.)

Anyhow, do with that information what you will. I'll be busy brushing up on my Jar Jar Binks fan theories.