Harvard’s newest class uses the “Game of Thrones” to teach medieval history

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tags: education, Harvard, Game of Thrones, medieval history



Just as Game of Thrones fans are getting excited for the coming of the show's seventh season, the professors behind a new Harvard class have revealed exclusively to TIME that they'll be offering a course this fall about real medieval history called "The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models."

This Folklore and Mythology class will look at the way the George R.R. Martin's series and HBO TV show based on those books "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," according to a description of the course provided to TIME by one of its professors, Sean Gilsdorf, a medieval historian and Administrative Director and Lecturer on Medieval Studies. Gilsdorf is co-teaching the class with Racha Kirakosian, an assistant professor of German and the Study of Religion.

This isn't the first time serious academic attention will be paid to Game of Thrones — and the fantasy-heavy show is known for drawing on real history — but this course lends the idea the Harvard imprimatur.





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