UC Berkeley course examines why Game of Thrones is so popular
What’s up with California universities trying to teach students how and why we love the shows (or books) we love? First it was the University of California, Irvine teaching students about The Walking Dead and now the University of California, Berkeley has started offering a course on Game of Thrones.
According to the school’s listing, the course — taught by Justin Vaccaro — “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.”
But, hey, the professor doesn’t just want to get into a profound discussion on whether or not Jon Snow is really dead. Game of Thrones has real-world elements to it, too.
“Yet, while Game of Thrones may be fantasy it is not simply (or only) escapism. With that in mind, we will investigate the sometimes contradictory but always complex and interesting politics of the show. The show is in many ways a discourse on power and the relationship between ruler and ruled. It asks what is a just and moral form of government and what does it take to make that a reality?”
And that’s not all, the body/power problem, as Vaccaro puts it, is an ongoing pursuit that contributes the appeal of the show.
“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? Game of Thrones’ notorious amounts of sex and violence can then be seen as an important way in which the show highlights the human as embodied. We all have bodies subject to pain and pleasure it seems to say. And thus all bodies are subject to power.”
This actually sounds like a great subject for educational philosophical and political discussions, however — and I may be a pure simpleton here — doesn’t the fact that the show contains dragons, the undead, and constant death attribute to the show’s appeal, as well?