The Star Wars Expanded Universe
Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) generally refers to “all of the officially licensed, fictional material of the Star Wars franchise, outside of the six feature films, and Star Wars Rebels TV series produced by George Lucas.” They include graphic novels like Star Wars: Dark Empire, and Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, and video games like, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and Star Wars: Old Republic to name a few. Suffice to say, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is aptly named.
YouTube Clip: The Star Wars Expanded Universe: Past, Present, and Future
The VERSUS Series
With so many offshoots to the original movies, a certain segment of the Star Wars fanbase has not only begun creating various YouTube videos exploring this universe, they have further expanded on its lore. Aficionados like Jensaarai1, Reti4, Antoine Bandele, and EvanNova95 have created the Star Wars “VERSUS” series. As the name suggests, an aficionado will hypothesize who would win in a fight. The characters may come from different storylines (e.g. Ahsoka Tano (from Clone Wars the animated series) vs. Galen Marek (from Force Unleashed video game) by EvanNova95), or even fight on the same side (e.g. Yoda vs. Mace Windu by Reti4).
YouTube Clip: Versus Series: Kit Fisto Vs Obi-Wan Kenobi
What makes these videos so impressive is the level of research that has been put into analyzing each character. These hypothetical battles are rarely under fifteen minutes, and some are over an hour. Impressive, when considering the average film is around two and a half hours in length. Indeed, watching one VERSUS video is like attending a college level course given by an EU professor.
YouTube Clip: Lightsaber Combat Descriptions: Soresu
Presentation is Important
Beyond their scholarship, the VERSUS creators also know their way around a computer. It might just be a case of finding, or buying, the appropriate software (which I have yet to do), but what is involved in the process is using an application that is able to combine an author’s voice, background music, and visuals. The visuals are usually slideshows of various images from the EU, but some VERSUS creators have improved their video by incorporating film clips.
YouTube Clip: Old Republic: Hope
In addition to the VERSUS series, VERSUS creators have also been creating top ten lists. Again, the research that is put into these lists is prodigious. Choices are all supported with lots of evidence, and inferences made and conclusions drawn are believable.
YouTube Clip: Star Wars Top 10 Underrated Jedi
What does all this have to do with book reports?
It comes as no surprise to find that “geeks” are leading the way. Teachers can definitely take a page or two out of YouTube videos like the Star Wars VERSUS Series. My original plan was to create my own top 10 (in my case, 5) list using Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. My search led me to applications like Hokusai, Recorder Plus, and AvFX, but this particular search came up empty. I’m sure that with a little more persistence, the right application will surface.
Top 10 lists are great to use in an English Language Arts class for a number of reasons. First, the top ten list is just another way of saying, “graphic organizer.” They can be used during the pre-writing or brainstorming activity of the writing process. As such, lists allow students to assess different parts of a text with a focus in mind. Much like the VERSUS series creators, students would have to qualify their top ten choices with evidence from the text. This would require that students finish the text in order to find the evidence. Students could be encouraged to come up with VERSUS series and Top 10 list topics of their own. Doing so requires that students use critical thinking skills. With regard to presenting the VERSUS series and Top 10 Lists (and once I figure out how to do it myself), teachers will be able to infuse a current, relevant medium that students can use outside of the classroom.
Here are some possible VERSUS and Top 10s I’ve considered, drawing from texts that we’ve read together in this course:
- Top 5 funniest moment in …Part Time Indian
- Top 5 saddest moments in …Part Time Indian
- 10 songs Junior/Rowdy/Gordy/Penelope (from …Part Time Indian) would have on his/her ITunes playlist
- Top 5 reasons Bod (from The Graveyard Book) needed to leave the Graveyard
- Silas vs. Jack Frost (from The Graveyard Book)
- Silas vs. Miss Lupescu (from The Graveyard Book)
- The Ghouls vs. The Sleer (from The Graveyard Book)
- Matt vs. Alpha (from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)
- Matt vs. Porter (from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)
- Top 5 pranks played in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks