Winter is coming, Mustangs, and no — we are not talking about the season.
During the upcoming 2016-17 academic year, Western students will have the pleasure of being taught by John Leonard, the recipient of the 2013 James Holly Handford Award, in a class based around the popular literary and television series, Game of Thrones.
The course, titled "Winter is coming; Game of Thrones," will be a general 2000 level course offered by the English department. This means there are no prerequisites and students do not have to be in an English module in order to enrol in the course.
Leonard’s primary areas of interest are in teaching and researching John Milton’s poetry, making him, as English undergraduate chair Richard Moll explains, “the Miltonest in the world right now.”
Moll says Leonard created the course because Milton is a tough sell for a lot of people and Game of Thrones plays into similar themes. This means people who don't have a lot of background on Milton can take the course and enjoy it.
Moll, whose field is medieval studies, believes that the fascination with Game of Thrones has emerged from an increasing intrigue with the middle ages.
"[Although] Game of Thrones evokes a historical moment, it is set outside one,” Moll explains. “Some people think of Game of Thrones as a kind of American version of Tolkien.”
In fact, Moll compares Game of Thrones to Harry Potter, explaining that for the kids who grew up with Harry Potter, Game of Thrones provided a natural transition into a more mature version of a similar style of book.
Unlike the Harry Potter course offered here at Western, the Game of Thrones course will, at least tentatively, go over the first three novels and then touch on the general series as a whole. The television series will be discussed for its impact, but the focus will be on the literary version of the series.
Jamie Quinn, a second-year medical sciences and French studies student, says she would be very interested in a Game of Thrones course, but worries about the size of the books.
"If it's anything like the Harry Potter course where you have to read a book per week, it would be impossible to balance a full course load and take this course," she says.
Quinn believes this course is a great idea for an elective because reading for pleasure during the school year is extremely difficult.
She is also not the only one who believes that a Game of Thrones course is a positive addition to the courses Western offers. Jamie Morritt, a first-year political science student, is interested in the course because of the elaborate narrative.
“Personally, I am attracted to the series because of the complexity of the storyline, which translates well to the show,” Morritt says. “The prose itself is not superb by any means but George R. R. Martin is able to draw in the reader through his plots and intrigue that leave you guessing while also satisfying the need for closure all at once.”
Morritt believes that although this course may not be necessary, it certainly has merit to being taught.
“Game of Thrones tackles several important themes such as the validity of war, gender inequality and many other topics important to our lives today," he says.