Academic analyses of various works of fiction aren’t new. I have at least a shelf’s worth of books that look at Star Trek from a field-specific perspective. Star Wars is no exception to the efforts to expose new concepts in the midst of popular culture.
However, the announcement that Cass Sunstein, noted behavioral economist and former Obama Administration official, is writing a Star Wars book, is a bit out of the ordinary. While Sunstein and his publisher are being vague on the theme of the book, the announcement suggests it could be wide raging. Whether or not it will conduct the kinds of behaviorally tinged analyses some desire remains to be seen.
The most extensive writing I’ve found Sunstein do on Star Wars are two pieces reviewing a history of the franchise (one is essentially an expansion of the other). Both have titles referencing constitutional law, reflecting how the pieces try to compare certain dramatic revelations in two of the films with notable legal decisions. He’s trying to compare the way in which George Lucas worked from idea to final films to the way laws and legal interpretations of those laws change from start to current judicial understanding.
If these reviews are an indication of how Sunstein might right a book for a general audience involving a big cultural force, I’d be concerned about his publisher making back the advance. He makes a decent point, but the effort to do so through the narrative of making a particular set of films doesn’t mesh well with the underlying message. I don’t think he uses a tortured metaphor, I simply think the effort resembles walking through a swamp when a raft is available.