Luther celebrates Star Trek
November 17, 2016
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“Star Trek” has lived long and prospered on Luther Campus.Students, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “Star Trek” in Valders 206 on Friday Nov. 11. The event was attended by approximately 40 people.
During the event faculty and staff shared their personal experiences with “Star Trek” and why they believe the series is culturally significant. Presenters included Assistant Professor of Music Amy Engelsdorfer, Professor of Dance Jane Hawley, Help Desk Lead Jesse Mulert, Associate Professor of Nursing Jayme Nelson and event co-coordinators Assistant Professor of English Andy Hageman and Associate Professor of German Sören Steding.
According to Steding, organizers wanted the event to recognize the show’s anniversary in a fun, casual manner rather than attempt to arrange a larger impersonal event.
“First we thought we wanted to do it closer to the actual date of the first episode [Sept. 8], but things developed the way they did,” Steding said. “We wanted to do something with the 50th Anniversary of ‘Star Trek’ as it is such an iconic TV series and important for the development of science fiction as we know it. We were thinking a little bit about the possibilities, but then we decided that we didn’t want to go big. That would be a little more forced, so we thought that it should be more relaxed and allow us to come together and share some ideas.”
Hageman assissted in organizing the event because of his own personal interest in the show and its broader meaning to society.
“Part of the impetus was just personal,” Hageman said. “I really love ‘Star Trek’ and have a sort of complicated relationship to it in that I love what it aspires to and what it tries to promote, even though it sort of failed to live up to its ideals in a lot of ways. It was an important show to me, but I also thought, on a much bigger scale, it’s a series that impacted a lot of people at the time.”
Many of the presenters also discussed how Star Trek presented minorities differently than the majority of media at the time.
“We know lots of actors of color in Hollywood have said that was one of the shows that gave them inspiration,” Hageman said. “They started seeing an African-American woman who is not a housekeeper, [Lieutenant Uhura], or an Asian-American man, [Mr. Sulu], in any role, especially one that wasn’t Kung Fu, was pretty radical.”
Other presenters shared their memories of the series, in addition to showing clips of memorable scenes from the original “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG). Engelsdorfer presented a scene from an episode of the original series called “Day of the Dove.”
“If you look at the movies and the Earth that they’re living in, we’re part of that,” Engelsdorfer said. “And we make it. My great hope is that if we get over not trusting each other and have international peace and live in a world where everybody has enough we can have a world that looks like ‘Star Trek.’”
Hawley shared her love for TNG and the series’ lead, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, before showing clips of his famous speeches.
“I came into ‘Star Trek’ with an awareness of the original series, but I suffered while I watched it,” Hawley said. “I suffered because I was a woman and I didn’t like the way the woman were being exploited with their bodies.”
Mulert began watching the show as an excuse to skip class, but quickly developed a genuine interest in it.
“Fifteen years later and I’m still watching it, so there has to be something else going on because I don’t have class to skip anymore,” Mulert said. “The thing that I like about ‘Star Trek’ is that it has all these different layers, but they can mean something different to everybody.”
Nelson discussed her memories of watching the show as a young girl and how it inspired her interest in science.
“I was six-years-old, and it really launched the triggers for my interest in science and ethics,” Nelson said. “It was absolutely very formative for me.”
Throughout the evening prizes were awarded for best “Star Trek” sonnet and best “Star Trek” costume, including autographed photos of Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original series. After the event, SAC Cinema screened the latest movie in the series, “Star Trek Beyond.”