Once upon a time fantasy novels were on the fringes of the literary world, an escape for readers from both ’real life’ and academic snobbery. This is about to change at the University of Regina.
Next fall, the university’s English department is running a course on the massively popular book series – and subsequent HBO adaptation — A Song of Ice and Fire, popularly known as Game of Thrones.
“I think this might be the first course that is offered anywhere, which is kind of exciting,” said the program’s professor, Susan Johnston.
Prof. Johnston believes the course will be very beneficial to students. “It draws them into thinking about the way literary change happens over time, the way genres change.”
The course will be based on the series’ author George R. R. Martin, but it will not focus much on his work before A Game of Thrones. Instead, the class will study texts such as Machiavelli’s The Prince and Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, literature that Johnston says is incredibly influential to Martin’s work.
“It is an exciting opportunity for students to talk about books that many of them love that are hot right now,” she said.
The class will also dissect the popular HBO series, a prospect that clearly excites Johnston, who just finished teaching a graduate studies class on film adaptations of literary texts.
“I think the neatest thing about it is that A Song of Ice and Fire is one of those unusual fantasy texts that changes the genre,” said Johnston. “It is a chance to not only look at these books but see how these sort of generic developments happen.”
Students are advised that the reading load for the course will be heavy and that reading the A Song of Ice and Fire texts would be wise beforehand. Interestingly, the book series has not reached completion, meaning the course will be studying unfinished literature. The final two books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring have not yet been published.
Exams will be in December, and winter is coming.