For four weeks this summer, students at the University of Virginia will delve into one of the most sprawling and beloved literary sagas of all time: Nope, not Homer’s Odyssey, but Martin’s Game of Thrones.
The hit HBO show (which just wrapped up its fourth season) and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series are at the heart of this discussion-based English seminar, UVAToday reports. The class not only delves into fantasy — a genre not typically studied in college classrooms — and the broader cultural impact of Game of Thrones, but also uses the series as a way to study how techniques for literary analysis can be used to effectively examine television.
“Game of Thrones is popular, it’s interesting, but it’s also very serious,” said associate professor Lisa Woolfork. “There are a lot of things in the series that are very weighty, and very meaningful, and can be illuminated through the skills of literary analysis.”
Students take turns leading class discussion, which has touched on myriad topics including racialism, fan-fiction, gender roles and power, identity formation, cultural allegory and, of course, good, evil and the gray area in between. For their final assignment, students will be tasked with creating their own addition to the Game of Thrones saga.
“All of them have to connect in some way to how Game of Thrones has sustained itself as a cultural phenomenon,” Woolfork said. “Some are writing a prequel graphic novel; others are working on spoilers… I want them to consider, ‘How do you track the progress of a book to a TV series to this large phenomena, and how does that transform?’ Literarily speaking, it’s a very diverse and rich text. It has lots of layers, lots of characters and it’s very smart.”
With any luck, students will be given a heaping amount of extra credit if they turn in a final project written entirely in Dothraki.