American university is offering a ‘Game of Thrones’ course

Students at University of California, Berkeley, now have the chance to take a class on their favourite TV show, Game of Thrones.

The American University is offering a summer 2015 class in the Film Studies program devoted entirely to the HBO hit series.  The program covered the themes of the show, theories and controversial aspects.

Film 108, a film class taught by Justin Vaccaro, uses the popular HBO series Game of Thrones to explore democracy, climate change, corruption of the American Dream and other related topics, according to a UC-Berkeley news release.

This course examined how and why Game of Thrones achieved such notoriety and popularity. The curriculum also included investigation of sometimes contradictory but always complex and interesting politics of the show, study of the discourse on power and the relationship between ruler and ruled.

Not just that but actual remains of dire wolves — the extinct North American canine that inspired George RR Martin’s creatures,were also displayed for students who were interested in Westeros.

However, the class is not all fun and games, as its required readings includes works from authors Rousseau and Foucault.

The 6-week course is record-breaking for Vaccaro, as 27 students are taking the class — his highest summer enrollment since 2011.

According to Berkeley News, this class was taught by Justin Vaccaro, a Berkeley PhD candidate in film and media studies. He proposed the course after the first season of the show based on George RR Martin’s best-selling, seven-novel Song of Ice and Fire series. Vaccaro finally got the go-ahead during the show’s fifth season, just before Game of Thrones collected a whopping 24 Emmy nominations.

UC Berkeley’s course wasn’t the first of its kind in America. According to Chicago Tribune, Northern Illinois University had an honors course about the series in spring of this year.

“The show is in many ways a discourse on power and the relationship between ruler and ruled,” says the class description. “But the series is also concerned with power and status in the personal sphere. How is power manifested in and through bodies, especially those of women, children, persons with disabilities, and the poor, or those of different ethnicities, religions, and sexualities?”

Northern Illinois University offered a similar course last spring called “Game of Thrones, Television and Medieval History.” The class integrated stories from the series with facts of the past, with the goal of showing students what can be learned from contemporary media.

The official site of UC Berkeley describes the reasons for offering the course as follows.

Game of Thrones is a worldwide phenomenon. Derived from a series of bestselling novels by George R.R. Martin, it is one of the most popular shows on television, the most pirated show on the web, and a critical darling, courting both a wide demographic of fans and more than its fair share of controversy. This course will examine how and why Game of Thrones achieved such notoriety and popularity. Its success was not so much a fluke but a perfect storm of influences and circumstances on the one hand and a fully realized aesthetic and thematic vision on the other.”

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

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