We’ve seen a few college courses based on Game of Thrones before. There was the one at Berkeley that asked students to explore “heavy themes, such as democracy, climate change, terrorism and torture, corruption, women as objects to possess and of power, and other delicate subject matters” in relation to the show. There was the four-week summer discussion course at the University of Virginia where students spent an entire class talking about the Red Wedding, and how life on the show goes on after death. There’s probably one at some beach school titled “Dragons: Dope or Nah?” And now we can add one more to the list.
The University of British Columbia is now offering a three-credit course titled “Our Modern Medieval: The Song of Ice and Fire as contemporary Medievalism,” which “seeks to examine the role of the medieval in the popular consciousness of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.” From the syllabus:
The course will take the works of George R. R. Martin as the central text for an investigation of how the medieval is reimagined in our current moment. Reacting both to the High Fantasy genre of the 1970s and 80s (that inspired by, and largely imitating the mode of Tolkien’s novels), and to post-everything nature of the last twenty years, Martin’s works hold an influential place in the popular modern imagined medieval, largely supplanting any real notion of the European Middle Ages in the minds of most of its readers and viewers. As such, we will be considering Martin’s works as much for what they tell us about our own moment, as for what they tell us about our ideas of the past.
And if using the books’ original title in the course name instead of Game of Thrones wasn’t enough to tip you off, this ain’t no TV class. This one is for bookreaders ONLY.
The course will involve the reading of the five books (thus far) of the series, and the watching of the five season of the HBO series. Please make sure you’ve read these BEFORE the course begins, as it will problematic to try to catch up if you have not done so. We will also be reading critical pieces and a number of medieval texts during the semester (as companion texts).
Unlike the reputation a lot of courses based on TV shows have, this one appears very much to be no joke at all. Which would make it very funny if some slacker kid in Canada zoned out after hearing “Game of Thrones class,” signed up, and then rushed into his adviser’s office after the first week furious because no one told him there would be spoilers.