9 Colleges With Actual Game Of Thrones Courses
If you’re the kind of Game of Thrones fan who totally noses up whenever someone else tries to take you on about this theory or that and they haven’t even read the books GAH, then listen up. Because all that time and energy you’ve expended theorizing every shred of detail about the series—book form first, of course—is not for naught.
In fact, as far as these nine colleges are concerned, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire and its ultra-violent-and-sexy TV offspring are exactly the kinda thing we can learn legit lessons from. And they’re backing it up with credit-worthy curriculums to boot.
University of British Columbia
Even the most enthusiastic GoT viewers will have to study up for this literature course because in addition to being well-versed on the hit series, it is also meant to focus heavily on George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, exploring the books’ representation of the modern understanding of medieval culture as it relates to a bevy of subjects—women, politics, history, religion, and race, to name a few. In other words: HEAVY stuff here, class.
University of California, Berkeley
This Film 108 class (which counts for 4 units, BTW, so not exactly a throwaway elective) focused on how the show rejects certain genre norms like the romanticism and tragedy of Lord of the Rings for a more ironic and realistic fantasy approach to presenting power struggles. Soooo … Where do we sign up???
This school was kind of ahead of the curve on this note, TBH. Its Game of Thrones lit class sprung up in 2012, while the HBO show was still in its sophomore season. It went straight for the season one/book one compare-and-contrast route because why not?
Northern Illinois University
This spring, NIU hosted an honors seminar with Game of Thrones at the center of semester-long discussions like the value of lit-based TV, modern representations of violence and sexuality (of which there is a LOT in the series), and more. The course was so popular that signing up was like a race for the Iron Throne, and since winter is coming students can go ahead and get their clicky fingers ready to sign up for the repeat offering next spring.
Rather than the usual literature or film studies route, this college saw the anthropological potential in all that vicious throne-seeking character behavior. Nice.
Also original was Rice University’s 2013-2014 Game of Thrones-centric course offering. It focused on Cersei’s “when you play the game of thrones” quote and ran with it—comparing historical figures who lived (and died) by the knife of that theme.
State University of New York at Cortland
The professor who pitched this class wanted to deconstruct the first three novels’ towering themes, like power and discipline and the grand landscape of fantasy fiction. The ultimate goal? To get students into reading again.
University of Tulsa
This school’s Game of Thrones and Disability course explores the portrayal of characters with disabilities as a lens for the broader social problem of the media and historical treatment of persons with disabilities. Tell us more, Teach!
University of Virginia
Taught in the summer of 2014, this class involved serious book and show-based discussions including the validity of the R+L=J theory and whether people are justified in nit-picking over the differences between the books and HBO’s adaptation. But the best part was that they all split up into different houses—with leaders, natch—for the final project.