And you thought Jon Snow coming back to life was a surprise.
This fall, Professors Sean Gilsdorf and Racha Kirakosian will be offering an intro-level Folklore and Mythology class called “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models.”
Sounds amazing, right? It will certainly be an excellent way to recruit students to the humanities. But what will this course actually look like?
According to Professor Gilsdorf’s exclusive interview with TIME, the class will examine the way that the Game of Thrones books and TV show “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts the history and culture of the ‘medieval world’ of Eurasia from c. 400 to 1500 CE” by exploring “a set of archetypal characters at the heart of Game of Thrones — the king, the good wife, the second son, the adventurer, and so on — with distinct analogues in medieval history, literature, religion, and legend.”
Gilsdorf also stated that the course will focus on medieval biographies of queens. “Game of Thrones does dramatize nicely some fundamental things going on in medieval courts. Tensions between a queen and the younger women who marry their sons are some ‘Real Housewives of 10th-century Germany’ kind of stuff, where you see these women going after each other,” he said.
In fact, Kirakosian noted, Cersei Lannister, the “vindictive queen” character from Game of Thrones, shares many similarities with Kriemhild, the primary royal character of the German medieval epic Nibelungenlied.
Course material will also include Irish prose epic Táin bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) and traveler Ibn Fadlan’s account of the 10th-century Islamic world. Hopefully, these adventure- and drama-laden texts will go over well with Game of Thrones fans.
“When I read medieval verse epics with my students, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s like in Game of Thrones,’” Kirakosian says. “No, if anything at all, it’s the other way around. Isn’t it partly our job [as professors] to use that interest and go deeper?”
What do you think of this class? Would your professors ever agree to teach a similar one? Share your thoughts below!
YouTube Channel: GameOfThrones
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