Game of Thrones

Harvard to offer course based on Game of Thrones

Just in case that the books and TV shows are not enough, Harvard University is offering an academic course inspired by the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.

TIME reports the university will now be offering a new Folklore and Mythology course entitled, ‘The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models’, which will look at how both George R.R. Martin’s book and the 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”.

In giving an overview of what the course will cover, Gilsdorf says that medieval biographies of queens will be prime source material. “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,” says Gilsdorf.

Kirakosian, meanwhile, points out that the character of the “vindictive queen” is something shared by both Cersei Lannister and Kriemhild, the main royal character in the medieval German epic Nibelungenlied, which gives students an idea of family rivalries in the Middle Ages. A few other themes are shared by the show and the epic, she says: both stories involve female rulers whose husbands were killed in a hunt and competition with foreign queens at court, for example.

Though the course may sound like it’s simply trying to cash in on popular culture, it’s actually part of a burgeoning academic exploration of how history is perceived and disseminated throughout modern culture, now that TV and film can have such a crucial impact on our own understanding of the past.

It’s also hoped that the introductory course will help boost interest in Medieval Studies and humanity courses, with bachelor’s degrees conferred in the humanities declining 8.7% between 2012 and 2014.

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Mian Bilal

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