Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be the feature attraction of a new college course being offered next semester at one of America’s leading institutions of higher learning; Rice University. The course, titled Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim will be available to third year English students. Successful completion of the material will earn students three full credits toward their degree.
Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game was released on November 11, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Few video games have ever been as highly praised or well received as Skyrim. Joystiq raved, “This is the deepest, loveliest world ever created for a single player to explore.” and GameSpot called the game magical, saying “Skyrim performs the most spectacular of enchantments: the one that causes huge chunks of time to vanish before you know it.”
Skyrim has its roots in Norse legends and places a heavy emphasis on the Heroic quest that is the heart and soul of classical Scandinavian literature. Skyrim pits the noble individual against a world threatened by marauding demons, undead minions and powerful dragons seeking to control or destroy all that is good in the world.
Professor Donna Beth Ellard is teaching the course, which is being offered on a one time only basis. Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim is described as follows:
“FANTASTIC COURSE OFFERED THIS SEMESTER ONLY:”
“This course has two goals. First, it introduces students to fantasy as both psychological concept and driving force in gamer culture; and second, using these paradigms, it considers how and why medieval Scandinavia serves as a locus of modern Anglo-American fantasy. To these ends, students will read selections from Old Norse and Old Icelandic sagas (in translation) as they play different quests within Skyrim.”
“While the course begins by identifying moments of intersection between the worlds of the sagas and of Skyrim (inclement environments, supernatural figures, mythologies), the course is not in any means meant to map the former onto the latter. The purpose of establishing these connections is to then consider how elements of medieval Scandinavian culture have been taken out of historical milieu and literary context, morphed into unfamiliar shape, and appropriated towards other fantastic pursuits.”
“We’ll consider the political saga of Skyrim, with its emphasis on Empire and rebellion, as pursuits made possible by way of Scandinavia in order to think through what Scandinavian fantasy worlds are really about and why they resonate with contemporary Anglo-American culture.”
Rice University announced the course will only be available to a limited number of students and as far as we know, none of the lucky individuals who attend the lectures will be allowed to turn their fellow students into one of the undead or curse them to eternal darkness. If you were studying English at Rice University, would you be rushing to sign up for this amazing course?