UM class featuring Game of Thrones popular

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, February 4, 2016

A University of Mississippi professor is using Game of Thrones to teach medieval literature this spring.

Whether the students are die-hard fans of the show or taking it as a requirement to graduate, Professor Mary Hayes’ approach to the series keeps it interesting.

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Ole Miss student Alicia Dixon said, “It makes it more interesting for sure.”

Dixon had never watched the series until she had to for homework, but comparing the series with medieval texts has already given Dixon a broader view on the class.

Likewise, student Libby Tyson had never seen the show until she enrolled in the course.

“This is all brand new to me,” she said.

In class, Hayes takes clips from the homework and uses them for class discussion. The students pick apart symbolism and modern influence while asking the question, “What is medieval about this?”

Tyson said the class is unique and unlike any other literature of film class she has taken before, but it is a fresh approach to an often overlooked period in history.

“I’ve never studied medieval culture just to study it,” Tyson said. “I’m forced to think about it in a different avenue.”

Even for Ole Miss student Hannah Hultman, already a fan of the series, the class has made her change the way she thought of the series.

“I’m not a huge fan of medieval literature,” Hultman admits. But the way the class is structured makes the literature aspect more appealing to her.

Hayes said although the series can be compared to a medieval reality television show in some aspects, it gives students a chance to understand the medieval period on its own terms.

Having a successful semester enrolled in “Game of Thrones and its Medieval Worlds” will require students to skillfully decipher and understand the era as well as how it is viewed in popular culture today.

Additionally, when the shows’ sixth season premieres in April, the department will host premiere nights for each episode.

Hayes said it is an opportunity to let people on campus get involved as well. The premieres will be free and open to the public.

“I do hope to popularize the minor and kind of show off what we do in medieval studies,” Hayes said.