Professors Explore History Through Fantasy

Seton Hall will host a panel discussion about the hit HBO series, “Game of Thrones” (GoT) and the books it was adapted from, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The panel will be held on Oct. 5 in the Nursing Amphitheater, Room 113, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

History Professor Dr. Williamjames Hoffer organized this discussion panel after the History Department had proposed holding more events for students to talk about history in the public eye. This will be seen as a way of “engaging students in the idea that history is all around us,” Hoffer said.

Professors discussion panel on Oct. 5 will relate “Game of Thrones” to history.
Photo via Flickr/Rob Obsidian

The other panelists include English professor Dr. Nancy Enright, assistant history professor Dr. Sara Fieldston, history professor Dr. Laura Wangerin and English professor Angela Weisl. Each panelist will investigate a different way that history relates to the HBO series.

Enright will begin the discussion with “Medievalism in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” She explained that her main talking points will examine Tolkien’s combination “of a realistic medieval and historical setting, combined with supernatural elements, that’s very Tolkien-esque.” From there, the discussion moves from the medieval era to 1940s America.

Fieldston will discuss the world that the author, George R.R. Martin, grew up in.

“He was born in 1948, part of the generation called the baby-boomers,” she said. “So, he was of course very much shaped by the world he grew up in and even though Game of Thrones is not necessarily commenting directly on that history, that history very much shaped his outlook and who he was.”

The other presentations include: Wangerin’s “Bloodfeud & Vengeance: The Middle Ages and the Game of Thrones” and Weisl’s “Making Spaces Medieval: Turning Dubrovnik into King’s Landing.” Dr. Hoffer will conclude with “Vampire Trees: Outlandish Theories and the Cycle of Death in GoT”.

Hoffer teaches a Topics course about GoT and A Song of Ice and Fire. This course is new to Seton Hall this semester, but Hoffer said he hopes to continue it in future semesters.

The class situates the books and the show as part of recent U.S. history.

Similar to this course, Hoffer would like to raise questions for students during the panel discussion about GoT and U.S. history. He said he wants students to have fun, “but also to have them talking about history and literature and the show, to realize you can have some pretty fascinating conversations if you start making these connections between your entertainment and the world around you.”

He added that students with a better understanding of their own history will be able to make connections to their lives today.

“The less you are to manipulation, the more you’re able to objectively examine, analyze and talk about history, the better off you are in terms of understanding current issues,” Hoffer said.

Alexander Melillo, a junior public relations major, said he would be interested in attending the discussion. Melillo said that he is huge GoT fan and has watched every season of the TV series.

“There are so many storylines to get hooked on that you could take a discussion in almost any direction,” Melillo said. “The connection to history would be interesting, to see what parallels there are between the medieval age and GoT.”

All are welcome to attend this event. However, Hoffer warned about potential triggers. Some students may not be prepared to discuss the traumatic things that occur in GoT and A Song of Ice and Fire. He also cautioned that there will be spoilers because the panel will examine the entirety of the series.

Erika Szumel can be reached at erika.szumel@student.shu.edu.

Author: Erika Szumel

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