WiSe 18/19: S-Culture-Gender-Media II: Medieval Afterlives - The Middle Ages of Game of Thrones
HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones (2011 to present) is one of the most stunning commercial success stories of contemporary popular culture. George R.R. Martin’s creation has been met with vastly ... read more
HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones (2011 to present) is one of the most stunning commercial success stories of contemporary popular culture. George R.R. Martin’s creation has been met with vastly different evaluations of its moral outlook, artistic merit and entertainment value, but few if any critics would deny that Game of Thrones is, in a very fundamental way, ‘about’ the Middle Ages. This course will examine how Game of Thrones taps into the 21st century’s collective reservoir of knowledge about this specific historical period, an epistemic stockpile that not only includes what could be termed verifiable scholarly findings, but also a plethora of popular assumptions and misconceptions. As will become clear, the Middle Ages themselves have made a substantial contribution to the idiosyncratic medievalism of Game of Thrones: be it the negotiation of tyrannical kingship, the depiction of the horrors and unsettling aesthetic appeal of warfare, the staging of liminal spaces populated by magical creatures on the periphery of fictional worlds, the deployment of highly productive motifs, plot structures and genre conventions, or the synchronic and diachronic construction of otherness – in all these areas medieval influences will prove pervasive.
Students are required a) to familiarise themselves with the entirety of the TV series and b) to buy and read George R.R. Martin’s novel A Game of Thrones (the first instalment of the A Song of Ice and Fire series) BEFORE the course starts.
Regular attendance and active participation in class are mandatory. Credits can be obtained by submitting a 2000-word seminar paper.