As if we needed any more evidence that Game of Thrones was one of the world’s most popular shows, this fall, Harvard University will be offering a Game of Thrones-themed medieval history class.
Per Time, the course will be titled “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models.” According to a course description, it will consider both the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin and the HBO adaption, looking at how the show “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts the history and culture of the ‘medieval world’ of Eurasia from c. 400 to 1500 CE.” by exploring “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.” Sounds like something we could get in to.
The course will be taught by professors Sean Gilsdorf, a medieval historian, and Racha Kirakosian, an assistant professor of German and the Study of Religion. Gilsdorf told Time that the course will lean largely on biographies of medieval queens:
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.
For example, according to Kirakosian, Cersei Lannister shares many similarities with medieval German queen Kriemhild, the main character in the German medieval epic poem Nibelungenlied. “Both stories involve female rulers whose husbands were killed in a hunt and competition with foreign queens at court,” Kirakorsian said. No word on whether any medieval queens blew up a church.
Former students “made” Kirakosian watch the HBO adaption, and she was quick to notice the real world similarities. Given the show’s popularity, there is hope that the class will serve as “recruitment tool” to drive attention towards medieval studies and the humanities in general. We know it worked on us. We already Googled “how hard is it to get into Harvard?”