Desert enlightenment: prophets and prophecy in American science fiction

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Andrew Slade


In the narratives of Dune, The Rise of Apocalypse, and Star Wars, the desert plays a pivotal role in the development of the central characters. As prophets or heralds of their respective sources, Paul Muad'Dib, En Sabah Nur, and Anakin and Luke Skywalker enter the desert--either directly after their births or early in their formative years--and emerge as changed figures. Various elements and manifestations of the desert, such as the sandworms and the spice in Dune, affect each of these figures in unique ways. While the desert does have appreciable artistic value as an environment, the argument that its value is limited to that quality is flawed, especially as it is viewed by some of the characters in these stories as a too-harsh world. That unforgiving nature is central to the development of the prophets, as it forces them into a barrenness from which enlightenment originates.


Herbert, Frank. Dune chronicles Criticism, Textual, Star wars Criticism, Textual, Deserts in literature, Comic books, strips, etc, Graphic novels, Prophets in literature, American literature; film studies; literature; religious history; spirituality; desert; Dune; Rise of Apocalypse; Star Wars; prophet; prophecy

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