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Star Wars: The Force Also Awakens Academia

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Star Wars TIE Fighter

Here’s a little-known fact: The Imperial TIE Fighter Ship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a model for a molecular compound for harvesting light into energy and contributing to understanding psychological conditions like borderline personality disorder, kleptomania, hoarding and ADHD. That’s just one instance of how the franchise is gaining ground in academia.

Walt Disney is projected to take in $2.5 billion in global ticket sales forStar Wars: The Force Awakens, with additional revenue from merchandising to exceed $5 billion over the next year.

Four more themed movies are planned by 2020, each costing around $350 million to produce and distribute globally. But the payoff is rich and far-reaching—even to the hallowed halls of academia.

Thomson Reuters used the latest installment of the Star Wars epic toexamine its effects on academia. It reviewed nearly 1,000 research papers indexed within the Web of Science and identified 10 papers that best demonstrated the saga’s influence denoted by citations or footnotes. Following are the top 10 titles based on number of citations:

  1. A supramolecular Star Wars Tie Fighter Ship
  2. Is Anakin Skywalker suffering from borderline personality disorder?
  3. Lining Up for Star Wars tickets: Some ruminations on ethics and economics based on an internet study of behavior in queues
  4. Whose film is it, anyway? Canonicity and authority in Star Wars fandom
  5. The fall and redemption of people and systems: Potential lessons from the ‘Star Wars’ saga
  6. Remembering and restoring the Republic: Star Wars and Rome
  7. Using Star Wars’ supporting characters to teach about psychopathology
  8. Luke Skywalker’s Individuation
  9. Space Buddhism: The adoption of Buddhist motifs in Star Wars
  10. Star Wars, limb loss, and what it means to be human

“Citation data serves as a key metric in gauging the visibility, significance, and interrelationship of scholarly work,” reports Thomson Reuters in a press release.

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