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Residual Humanities: From the Cultural Déjà Vu to Reclaimed Narrations

Doru POP


This paper proposes a new interpretative framework, the residual humanities approach, situated at the limits of rubbish theory, of “trash aesthetics” (Warner 2014), and other traditional “garbologies” (Rathje and Murphy 2001). Residual humanities is intended as a theoretical framework that takes previous methods, like archetypal interpretations or ideological criticism, in the area of trans-political and transmythological accounts. The new set of interpretive terms proposed are designed to extracting their true residual dimensions by searching for insights into the immaterial functions of such narrative and media transmogrifications. The working hypothesis of this approach is applied in the Star Wars universe, a complex story-world which has recycled innumerable cultural elements, generating a melange of religious and political themes, in a large collection of previously used myths, showcasing a symbiosis of images and fantasies joined together by a galactic saga attractive for entire generations of children and adults. Using the trilogies that have begun with Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and continued up to Star Wars:The Last Jedi (2017), the study takes into consideration that the multiple replications happening in Lucasverse are making visible the inherent mechanisms of residuality, which is now a contemporary cultural production mode.

Keywords: Appropriation, Cultural Residue, Discarded Cultural Artifacts, Recycling, Reuse, Residual Media, Old and New Narrative Forms, Recuperated Mythologies, Star Wars Trilogy, Reclaimed Storytelling

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.22.1