On Sunday, July 16, HBO broadcast the first episode of season seven of the show, Game of Thrones (GoT). Last year at least 23 million Americans watched each episode of season six, and the program was seen in more than 170 countries.
Richard Utz, a scholar of medieval studies and professor and chair in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication in Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College, was quoted in this article in Time on the impact of the show in higher education. He specializes in the study of literature, film, media, and communication. His research also focuses on the reception of medieval culture in post-medieval times.
When the next season of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones starts on Sunday, it will be a short one, with the last episode of this batch scheduled to air on Aug. 27. That fact may frustrate some eager to find out who will win the Iron Throne, but it’s good news for a particular subset of fans. After all, September is back to school season. As TIME first reported, Harvard will offer an undergraduate medieval studies course inspired by Game of Thrones this fall and Boston College is offering a graduate-level one in spring 2018 — just the latest examples of similarly themed courses offered at American schools ranging from the University of California, Berkeley to Virginia Tech, as well as universities overseas… “Most [institutions] would say that they don’t have to pay you $120,000 a year to talk about Game of Thrones,” echoes Richard Utz (Georgia Tech), President of the International Society for the Study of Medievalism, who argued on Friday in an Inside Higher Ed op-ed that medieval studies departments should beware of relying too heavily on Game of Thrones (which is, after all, still just a work of fantasy) as a recruitment tool. Those within the field disagree over whether it’s proper to contextualize the original medieval texts within anything but their own original medieval world, and traditionally the answer has been that it is not.