Ever since Game of Thrones debuted in 2011, popular media and academic scholars have debated its relationship to medieval history. George R. R. Martin, the author of the book series on which the television show is based and a producer and consultant for the show itself, has stated that he read everything he could on the medieval world in developing his series. At the same time, however, Martin admitted that his interpretive choices are not reflections of medieval Europe, but refractions—in other words, they provide a sensationalized impression of the medieval period that is designed to tell a good story and keep the audience interested. 

This course will examine the tension between the historical Middle Ages and its modern representation, using the Game of Thrones television series as an example. We will explore how themes such as power structures, disability, gender, class, sexuality, and justice relate to the concept of Medievalism—recent perceptions of the medieval period rather than the historical Middle Ages.

Contact Info

Dr. Dana Wessell Lightfoot dana.wesselllightfoot@unbc.ca

Office hours: 2:30-3:30 on Mondays via Zoom (link posted on Chatboard and Blackboard)

I recommend contacting me via Direct Message on the Chatboard rather than email as in email inbox tends to get overrun.

Course Materials

Amy S. Kaufman and Paul Sturtevant, The Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past, (University of Toronto Press, 2020).

Additional readings and podcast links posted here:

Week by Week

Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-8 (available via Crave or the UNBC library).


This course is a seminar and is based on discussion in two formats: live during Zoom classes and on demand via a chatboard. 

For an overview of our course platforms, please see:

Course Platforms

Live Zoom classes:

  • Students will be divided into Group A and Group B. 
  • Group A live Zoom classes will take place on Mondays from 11:30-12:50.
  • Group B live Zoom classes will take place on Mondays from 1:00-2:20 pm. 
  • These classes will be based on discussions with the entire group (12-13 students) and in breakout rooms. 

Chatboard Discussions:

  • We will be using a Mattermost chatboard as our communication tool and for on demand group discussions.
  • Students will receive an email from me with details on how to sign up for the chatboard.