Special Topics in Medieval / Early Modern Lit: Game(s) of Thrones: Medieval Literature and Popular Culture

English 290S-1.01

Winter is coming—and with it, the ideal time to consider popular culture’s obsession with the medieval world. From George R.R. Martin’s titillating Game of Thrones to the mythical world of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, popular culture imagines and re-imagines the medieval. Why? What imaginative possibilities does the medieval world hold for contemporary authors and their readers?

In order to better understand why fantasies of the Middle Ages have increased in popularity, we’ll read medieval texts alongside contemporary poetry, novels, and critical theory. One of the goals for this course will be to consider what popular re-imaginings and perceptions of the Middle Ages suggest about the political and ethical commitments of our own time period. As such, we’ll consider HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones in relation to Sir Thomas Malory’s epic tale of King Arthur, Le Morte d’Arthur. Alongside the novels of C.S. Lewis, we’ll read the philosophy of Edward Said as well as the medieval Arthurian legend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Possible additional texts might include: Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the crusade romance Richard Coer de Lion, J.

R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, and excerpts from the philosophical works of Eve Sedgwick, Frantz Fanon, and Michel Foucault. No exams. No prerequisites.