As fans are gearing up for the Season 7 premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, those at Harvard are also getting ready for their Game of Thrones-themed class now on offer. The course aims to make a comparison between the mythology of the show and those present in its medieval counterparts.
The Game of Thrones class being offered by Harvard will be taught by Sean Gilsdorf, a medieval historian and Administrative Director and Lecturer on Medieval Studies, and Racha Kirakosian, an assistant professor of German and the Study of Religion.
According to Time, the course title is “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models.” The class will delve into the way George R. R. Martin (in his book series) and HBO (in the TV series) “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts the history and culture of the ‘medieval world’ of Eurasia from c. 400 to 1500 CE.”
Along with this, the Harvard class outline explains the class will explore “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.” According to Time, the class will use the “medieval biographies of queens” as the prime source material for one of the teachers, Sean Gilsdorf.
“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.”
Racha Kirakosian will also make a comparison between Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, and the medieval counterpart of Kriemhild, a vindictive queen in the medieval German story, Nibelungenlied.
Harvard will be using their Game of Thrones class as a way to draw students into other medieval studies and humanities courses currently on offer. Kirakosian will also use the fact she was originally convinced to watch the show by students of her comparing medieval stories to Game of Thrones.
“When I read medieval verse epics with my students, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s like in Game of Thrones.’ 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?”
This isn’t the first time a university has used Game of Thrones to draw in students. According to Entertainment Weekly, UC Berkeley offers a course called “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention.” This class is taught by David J. Peterson, a linguist who created the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones. The Berkeley class aims to use Game of Thrones languages to help students understand how language is formed.
MTV also points out that there are eight other universities, besides Harvard and Berkeley, that have offered Game of Thrones-themed classes. Many of these courses are literature-based, such as The University of British Colombia’s Game of Thrones class. However, others delve into the anthropological aspects of the series as well as others that delve into the central themes in Game of Thrones and compare them to historical events.
Also, Game of Thrones is not the first popular culture phenomenon to be used to help engage university students. As Vanity Fair points out, Harry Potter-themed classes are also a big draw card for universities.
Are you interested in attending this Game of Thrones-inspired class at Harvard? Let us know by commenting below.
You can watch the official trailer for Season 7 of Game of Thrones below.
You can check out the breakdown of this Season 7 trailer via this previous Inquisitr article.
Season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones will premiere on July 16, 2017.
[Featured Image by HBO]