‘Game of Thrones’-inspired history course available at Harvard

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, left, in a scene from "Game of Thrones.". THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Helen Sloan/HBO via AP

Harvard University’s humanities department is getting a Game of Thrones-themed course.

According to Time, “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models” class will examine George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as the HBO TV adaptation, highlighting the way each “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts the history and culture of the ‘medieval world’ of Eurasia from c. 400 to 1500 CE.”

The class will also explore various character archetypes the series relies on, including “the king, the good wife, the second son, the adventurer, and so on,”  and compare those to their analogues in medieval history, literature, legend and religion.

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Game of Thrones does dramatize nicely some fundamental things going on in medieval courts,” professor Sean Gilsdorf said when speaking with Time. “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.”

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The use of the accessible pop culture phenomenon is a sensible way to bridge concepts and explore subjects from the fantasy literature and TV shows all in one college setting.

“When I read medieval verse epics with my students, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s like in Game of Thrones,’” co-professor Racha Kirakosian recalls on her experiences at Oxford while teaching. “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?”

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This course will be an intro course and Kirakosian said she hopes that the course will serve as a “recruitment tool” for medieval studies and the humanities.

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There are many classes that have been based on TV and film, including the Harry Potter franchise, which has inspired several colleges to add courses that directly appeal to Harry Potter fans.

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