Harvard Launches Course Based on ‘Game of Thrones’

Students will compare the show to real-life medieval people and events.

June 4, 2017 5:00 am

Maybe Jon Snow would have learned something—if he enrolled in Harvard University.

This fall, the prestigious Ivy League school will be offering a populist course about medieval history called, “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models.”

According to Time, the folklore and mythology emphasizing class will look at how George R.R. Martin’s series — and the HBO show based on the books — “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts the history and culture of the ‘medieval world’ of Eurasia from c. 400 to 1500 CE.”

Basically, the introductory 100-level course will compare the characters and events that make up Game of Thrones to real life events and figures.

The fantasy show is well-known for drawing on real history as an inspiration and this is not the first time a course has been based around it. UC Berkeley has offered multiple courses, according to Mashable, that draw inspiration from the series.

Sean Gilsdorf, a medieval historian and Administrative Director and Lecturer on Medieval Studies at Harvard, is co-teaching the course. He told Time that medieval biographies of queens will be primary source material. Cersei Lannister supposedly shares some characteristics with a main character from a medieval German epic.

Racha Kirakosian, the other co-professor, hopes the course will be a recruitment tool for medieval studies and humanities courses in general. Students have been less interested in majoring in those fields in recent years. In 2013, Harvard reported that the percent of its undergrads majoring in humanities dropped from 36 percent to 20 percent over six decades.

Short of building a giant wall outside of the school to keep the students in, pandering to Game of Thrones popularity may be the next best strategy.

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