Home / General / New syllabus: <em>Game of Thrones</em>: Bold Plan or Blasphemy?

New syllabus: Game of Thrones: Bold Plan or Blasphemy?


The university’s revamped the curriculum to emphasize the written word, so now I have to teach a traditional novel alongside my visual works. (Which I almost always did anyway but no matter.) I’ve decided to teach Game of Thrones, but there’s one problem: I’ve decided to teach Game of Thrones. In a freshmen composition class. That’s only ten weeks long. The quarter will look something like this:

  • Week 1: Introduction to the genre. Watch Fellowship of the Ring. Read secondary material about fantasy.
  • Weeks 2-5: Read Game of Thrones. Read secondary material about the novel. Write 4 blog posts and 1 short essay about it.
  • Weeks 6-9: Watch Game of Thrones. Read secondary material about the series. Write 4 blog posts and 1 long essay about it.
  • Week 10: Final project.

You see the problem: the novel’s 675 pages long, meaning that from Week 2 until Week 5 they’ll be reading 169 pages of the novel and approximately 15 pages of secondary material per week. Experience suggests that having freshmen non-majors read 184 pages per week while also asking them to produce 10 of their own pages may be too much for them to handle. So here’s my bold (or blasphemous) plan:

I let them skip the Daenerys chapters (3, 11, 23, 36, 46, 54, 61, 64, 68, and 72). Because I read the novel on a Kindle, I’m not exactly sure how many pages that will save them. But it makes narrative sense: they’ll spend all their time on the island of Westeros and we’ll spend all our classtime discussing its affairs in Weeks 2-5. When we shift to the series in Week 6, we’ll focus our attention on Daenerys and the events happening on Essos. That means the majority of the visual rhetorical analysis will involve horses, but it could be worse.

Another idea, floated by Gerry Canavan, would be to force the students to read one chapter from each of the point-of-view characters and allow them to decide which two they wanted to ignore. They’d have to justify their decision via a rhetorical analysis in a blog post, meaning that they would write that the Daenerys chapters don’t provide them with significant information about the context of conversations within the novel, or that they don’t believe they’re receiving accurate information from Tyrion because of his ethos. I like that from a pedagogical point of view, but I’m not sure about the classroom mechanics. Take a vote and ignore the two characters with the fewest proponents? I don’t know.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

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  • sara

    Well, I personally think that 169 pages of Game of Thrones isn’t anything like 169 pages of academic material. 25ish pages of a novel per day? That’s like 10 minutes or so, right? As long as you announce this at the beginning of the class and let people out who aren’t up for it, I don’t see the issue. I think we read Moby Dick in maybe 2 weeks when I was in college? So Game of Thrones should be easy. :)

    • SEK

      Students are fickle. Twenty-five pages a day doesn’t seem like much to me, but to students who also have four other classes and are, possibly, reading in their second or third language, it can be really difficult.

      • arguingwithsignposts

        That does seem a lot for a 10-week class. I assume you are on some weird quarter system? or trimesters?

        • SEK

          Quarters. And for most of my students, they’ll be adjusting from high school semesters to college quarters, which isn’t a negligible factor.

          • Murc

            … quarters?

            Your college manages to fit in four ten-week instructional periods between September and June? Do you only give people one week for Christmas? Or are you counting Summer session in there?

            • SEK

              Three ten-week sessions between September and June, and then the Summer session. It’s a pain, even now, after having been taught and/or teaching in it for more than a decade.

              • DrDick

                Been there and done that. I don’t envy you. While I agree with Sara that popular fiction is easier to read than academic writing, in my experience a lot of college students do not do much reading on their own at all. Trying to get them to read 184 pages a week? You are so fucked.

                • arguingwithsignposts

                  yeah, good luck with that, sek. I note you also mention “secondary material.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this won’t be near as enticing as the source novel.

    • rea

      I think we read Moby Dick in maybe 2 weeks when I was in college? So Game of Thrones should be easy.

      Moby Dick is much more interesting, and an easier read. I’ve made it through Moby Dick, but not Game of Thrones.

  • John

    It’d be a bit tough to skip anyone other than Dany – everything else is pretty closely intertwined.

    • that guy who posts this comment

      Even Dany’s pretty important at times – if you don’t follow her plotline, then you lose the whole force behind the conflict that separates Ned from Robert and Ned’s departure from Kings Landing has much less force behind it. Additionally, the perspective on history that we get from Dany’s POV chapters provides a much-needed contrasting viewpoint to the essentially monolithic depiction of Robert’s Rebellion we’re seeing from everyone in Westeros. Also, you lose a fair bit of sub/meta-textual interplay between the Jon and Dany chapters, as regards the family Mormont, And of course, Dany has the largest personal growth and one of the strongest positive character arcs in the book.

  • I think you’ve got to reassign yourself at least half credit on the alternate pedagogy scheme. My idea was much less articulated — just let them read, skim, or skip what they want and use those very decisions as a springboard for discussion about how we read these sorts of texts at all…

    • SEK

      I’d never have thought of it otherwise, so you’ll get the credit, damn it, and you’ll like it.

  • S. Tarzan

    When A Game of Thrones was originally published, the Dany chapters were also published as a stand-alone novella in one of the big sf&f magazines, so there is precedent for that.

    • SEK

      I forgot about that! It’s the perfect ex post facto justification. Thanks!

  • witless chum

    The dragons showing up at the end is a lot of people’s favorite part. And won’t a lot of them get hooked and just blow through the thing in like a week? I did that with books in college, but I’m weird. On the other hand, none of those books were as good as Game of Thrones. Except for Frederick Douglas’ middle one.

    • SEK

      They will. I had students get hooked on Doctor Who and watch all six seasons before the quarter ended. Others will complain, endlessly, about having to commit themselves to something they deeply despise. It’s a balancing act, though in-class enthusiasm goes a long way to tipping the scales.

      • firefall

        six seasons? I hope you pointed them at 40 years of back catalogue, then

        • SEK

          Earlier seasons are only intermittently available on Netflix, and I had them purchase a subscription to Netflix for the class, so that’s what they had. Stuff like “City of Death” and “Genesis of the Daleks” is available, but as movies, not as part of ongoing series.

          • SEK

            (Because seriously, do you think I’d encourage them to be less nerdy? I’m offended!)

  • Sherm

    Make them read the whole book. It’s the only book you’re assigning. What’s the big deal?

    • SEK

      I considered closing the post with “Any suggestions are welcome, except those that involve kids being on your lawn.” Maybe I should’ve. In all seriousness, college freshmen are really just high school seniors, and need to be eased into college. If they were only taking my class, they’d read the whole thing, but they’re taking four others, adjusting to university life, etc.

      • Sherm

        I get it. But that’s a fun read. It’s not moby dick, and many of the kids have probably seen the show

      • Increase Mather

        I’m with Sherm here. It also looks like they have 4 weeks where their assignment is to watch TV no reading.

        Then again, personally, I’d likely struggle with anything fantasy (which I’m not really into).

        adjusting to university life, etc.

        Going to sporting events and keggers and bitching any work assigned to them ;)

    • Marek

      Got to agree with this. I stayed up all night to read these (just finished the third), and I have a job, and kids. So can your students.

      My lawn is overcrowded!

    • Rarely Posts

      I disagree. They can easily read the book, but one thing that students first learn to do in college is really read closely, critically, and carefully, and that type of reading takes a lot more time. I read these books in no time, but I wasn’t thinking about them critically as I went. I also certainly wasn’t trying to think of interesting things to write about them.

      Also, from my own experience as a college student, I found that I was much more likely to do the reading and do it well if the professor did a good job trimming it down. I was taking two history classes one semester (my major was in the hard sciences), and one professor regularly assigned about 100 to 150 pages per week. He had carefully trimmed down the materials so that they always ran that length, no longer. The other professor just always assigned a full book or numerous articles per week – it was basically impossible to keep up. Not surprisingly, I did all the reading for the first class, but I did almost none for the second. SEK is wise to try to trim the length down so that they have time to focus and they won’t feel hopeless.

      • Katya

        I agree with that. You don’t just want them to read it, you want them to read it with attention, focus, and critical thinking, so that they have things to say about it in class and in their writing assignments. If they are staying up all night to cram it in, they aren’t likely to be reading closely. Some students can read both quickly and carefully, but not everyone can. Plus, they are reading/doing problems for other classes, adjusting to college life, etc. Upperclassmen might be able to do it, but it might be a bit much for incoming freshmen.

    • Cody

      He’s also assigning them to write!!

      It takes me a week to write a page. That’s why I’m in engineering!

  • emrventures

    169 pages of Game of Thrones per week is too much? It’s a freaking fantasy novel, it’s not like reading Absalom Absalom.

    Students are “fickle”? Who cares? You assign the work, and they read it. If they’re too “fickle” to put in the time and read the material, they fail. How low do you have to lower the bar in response to your students inability or unwillingness to read?

    • SEK

      You’ve got the wrong metaphor: it’s not about “lowering the bar,” it’s about “getting them up to speed.” So, early in the quarter, pique their interest. Week 2, introduce more than they’re used to reading — 120 pages and 1 academic article — but nothing that will seem impossible. By Week 5, they can handle 180 pages and 3 academic articles a week. Remember, these students have never encountered academic prose before, so those three articles will take them as long as, if not longer, to read than the novel. I wonder whether people who talk about “the bar” ever think about their metaphor literally, as it regards high-jumping or limbo. Just because a student isn’t flexible enough not to graze a bar a foot off the ground or athletic enough to jump over one that’s eight feet off the ground doesn’t mean they’re The Slackers Responsible For The End Of Western Civilization, or that I’m somehow enabling them.

      • puzzlehunter

        Is 120 – 180 pages a week and 1 – 3 academic articles a week typical for the freshman composition class you teach (compared to your colleagues)? I had even less reading per week in an intro American lit class in college, but as you say, intro classes often focus on helping students transition from high school into college work.

        Also, is it (un)common for your students to start college with AP credit from high school? My first exposure to academic articles was in AP classes (English & US History) in high school, so I already had some exposure to academic prose when I started college.

        • SEK

          Is 120 – 180 pages a week and 1 – 3 academic articles a week typical for the freshman composition class you teach (compared to your colleagues)?

          Not even close. As those up-thread are noting, more emphasis is placed on close-reading, so shorter texts are preferred. I’m trying to give them a more immersive experience, though, as I think it better replicates what expertise feels like.

          Also, is it (un)common for your students to start college with AP credit from high school?

          In all honesty, in the decade I’ve been teaching I can say that there’s no difference between students who took AP and those who didn’t. Or, if there is, it’s that the students who took AP have a concretized sense of what constitutes “a college essay,” and because they earned an “A” writing said essay in high school, they’re unwilling to change. Sometimes I just want to teach high school so I can give some poor freshmen composition instructors a break.

      • Jameson Quinn

        I’d also suggest saying something like:

        Some of you will have a problem with time this semester. If that happens, don’t read the extra chapters. Nothing in this course will depend on them.

        Some of you will have a problem with motivation or procrastination. In that case, if reading the whole book makes you enjoy it more and so makes you more motivated, it could actually help things. Of course, I’d still recommend doing the assignments in order as you read, and not coming back later to do them. So treat the extra chapters as a guilty pleasure which you earn by writing the blog posts.

        Being able to tell the difference between being short on time and short on motivation, and using appropriate strategies for each case, is very useful.

        • SEK

          That’s pretty much what I’ve committed to doing. Odds are, most of them will want to read the entire book. Seventy-five percent at least. At this point, my main concern is how to deal with the CHRISTIAN! students while teaching the series. In addition to the “we’re all adults here” conversation, I think I’m going to provide them with time-stamps of the portions of the episodes they might find offensive.

          • Jameson Quinn

            Make sure you share the timestamps here, as a public service to the, um, Chrstians among your commenters.

            • Hogan

              Yes, as a committed Christian I would be very interested in the good parts version time stamps of which you speak.

          • Katya

            To be fair, it’s not just “Christians” who might be offended. There is some serious violence against women, and you might have some students who find that triggering because of a past assault or, for some other reason, simply too hard to watch. Heck, my husband couldn’t watch the rape scene in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I can’t watch extremely graphic violence–I’m an adult, and it gives me nightmares.

  • Jameson Quinn

    If you do have a vote, you should definitely use approval voting. Otherwise you’ll get strange vote-splitting artifacts and Dany could easily have more partisans and stay in.

    My dog ate my copy of Game of Thrones (seriously; I posted a picture on Quora), so I can’t actually check how many pages each character represents. OK, that’s not totally true, because I could check in my wife’s Spanish copy, but I don’t really want to.

    But if I were you, I’d let them skip a little more than Dany. Because the others are so intertwined, I’d have them only skip one-and-a-half characters – Dany from the start, and one other starting halfway through. Stuff that happens in the latter half has less of a chance to reappear in another thread.

    Most of them will read it anyway, but the lazy and/or stressed ones won’t have to.

  • Summer Stark

    Ditch LotR. It doesn’t help explain game of thrones/give background on it. It’s way more fantastical than the first novel in the song of ice and fire series (ie game of thrones). If anything, open with an intro to the wars of the roses, since that’s the inspiration for the book. Realistically though, that would probably be boring for them.

    I’d say just open with the first few episodes of the show, since that would get them engaged. I don’t know how many hours a week you have them in class–2 or 3? I know I wouldn’t have read the books if I hadn’t seen the show first–too intricate, and too many characters to grab my attention.. But after watching the first season, I read all 5 books in just a few weeks–then I read them all again more slowly.

    Point is, I’d spend the first week watching the show (shoot for 3-4 episodes), then jump into the books. Either way, you’re going to have kids who only watch the show instead of read the books, but this way maybe more of them will want to read it. If you’re worried that everyone will skip the beginning of the book, spend the first class on the first episode and the second class explaining who is who and the houses (maybe show that part of the simpsons episode where their teacher explains game of thrones–it’s pretty funny and short). if they have 3 classes/week, I’d say watch the second episode during that 3rd class. That way you have knocked out a fifth of the show and can spend the extra week on the book.

    Then the second week start the book and since you’d now have an extra week, they’d have less to read and you could keep the Dany chapters in–afterall, Dany is a fan favorite during the first book (or make her chapters optional).

    What secondary material are you going to assign? If it’s just explanatory, you could start them on the show the first week and maybe give them printouts from hbo.com about the characters/houses.

    Either way, good luck! I wish I could’ve taken a class on Game of Thrones in college–definitely cool and I’m sure students will be jealous of their friends in your class!

    • Summer Stark

      Oops–edit in 4th para: they’d have to read less each week.

    • Marek

      There’s a fifth book?

      I agree that LotR is unnecessary, and War of the Roses would be better to study (or play a boardgame based on) to get into Game of Thrones.

      • Anonymous

        Yes! A Dance With Dragons! It came out last summer–it is about all the characters who weren’t in book 4–ie they happen simultaneously, but George RR Martin split the book by character because book 4 was getting too unwieldy. Book five does move past book 4’s timeline about 2/3 of the way through book 5.(ie the first 2/3 of book five occur simultaneous to all of book 4). Definitely a must read!

        • Summer Stark

          Oops–the above post is by me.

        • Marek

          Guess I won’t get any work done next week, either.

    • Murc

      Ditch LotR. It doesn’t help explain game of thrones/give background on it.

      SEK is not teaching a course on Song of Ice and Fire. He is teaching a course on visual rhetoric. You really think the film version of Fellowship has nothing to say on that?

      • Summer Stark

        Fair enough, but he is spending 9 of 10 weeks on game of thrones so I’d say he is teaching book 1 in aSoIaF. there is plenty of visual rhetoric there, so if you’re talking about cutting material, I’d start with the material that isn’t in the book. The issue is one of time, so yes IMO LotR is unnecessary within the confines of the class. Otherwise, he could just teach chapters from several books.

      • Church

        SEK is not teaching a course on Song of Ice and Fire. He is teaching a course on visual rhetoric.

        Then dropping Dany’s chapters is a bad idea, since her chapters are the most changed in the adaptation (barring characters who had no chapters at all.)

        Be sure to mention at the start that there’s an appendix of characters in the back! Also that Dany’s chapters take place off of the map that’s in the book.

    • SEK

      Ditch LotR. It doesn’t help explain game of thrones/give background on it. It’s way more fantastical than the first novel in the song of ice and fire series

      That’s actually why I want to start with it: it makes Game of Thrones seem, from the get-go, the more serious work of political intrigue that it actually is. It’s a give them the conventions, then exceed their expectations situation.

      I’d say just open with the first few episodes of the show, since that would get them engaged.

      I’m leaning, heavily, toward interleaving the episodes and chapters at this point. It’s just a matter of arranging them according to what happens when, which may take some time.

      • Sherm

        I’m leaning, heavily, toward interleaving the episodes and chapters at this point. It’s just a matter of arranging them according to what happens when, which may take some time.

        For what its worth, I think that this is the better approach, and I’d forego some of the secondary materials rather than any portion of the novel itself. The idea should be getting the “freshmen non-majors” interested in reading and writing, and having them read a contemporary, fantasy novel would better serve that goal than any of the secondary materials. I recall a roommate (late 80’s btw) who was a business major being excited about an English class in which he was assigned A World According To Garp because he liked the movie. Skipping chapters is no way to read a piece of fiction, and this is a book that some kids might really enjoy.

  • Murc

    If you think Westeros is an island, I question that you are familiar enough with the source materiel to effectively teach it. :)

    Kidding aside, though, cutting the Daenerys chapters could introduce some dissonance into how students approach Ned Stark, and given that Ned Stark is the main character that might be something you want to avoid.

    Aside from the fact that she is going to be important for much longer than Ned is, part of the point of the Daenerys chapters is to make us sympathize with her as a protagonist. That in turn connects to the ongoing plotline with Ned pissing away his influence with Robert when he obstinately refused to sanction assassination. Without seeing the Dany chapters, all we as readers know is that the daughter of the batshit insane guy who murdered Ned’s family has hooked up with a barbarian warlord.

    Although on the other hand, that’s all NED knows, so it could really drive home the fact that Ned’s alignment is Lawful Stupid.

    Oh, and if you do hold a vote, I’m sure I don’t need to say, but just in case I do, make sure its as Condorcet compliant as possible.

    • Summer Stark

      Agreed. It also makes Ned and Robert more “grey” since we have Dany/Viserys POV on the rebellion–or at least it makes Robert more grey. And the author wants all the characters to be grey, so it’s more realistic instead of the good v evil trope.

      • John

        We should remember, of course, that they’re all going to get at least the gist of the whole plot from the TV series by the end of the class.

        • Murc

          This is a good point, and as I said above, it is a class on VISUAL rhetoric. So that makes sense.

          I just don’t like separating people from a works proper contexts their first time through it. It seems dishonest somehow.

          • Summer Stark

            There’s some great visual rhetoric in the book that isn’t in the show though–the bed of blood in particular, and how it relates to Dany and Lyanna–that they’d miss without the book and without the Dany chapters. In turn, they might miss biggest mystery in the book (and frankly the entire series) that Martin is trying to show us, communicated partially through visual rhetoric (blue roses, bloody bed).

    • Jameson Quinn

      Getting off-topic here, but on the voting system thing…

      I’m sure Murc and I would totally agree in practice, since basically both of us are remindig SEK (who BTW probably doesn’t need reminding) that plurality is a really bad voting system. But I don’t agree with Murc that Condorcet compliance is the be-all-and-end-all measure of voting system quality. By focusing on Condorcet, you’re automatically hedging yourself into ordinal voting systems, which steers you straight into the teeth of Arrow’s paradox. If you look at a wider basket of criteria, you leave the alternate paths of cardinal or delegated systems open (such as my suggestion above, approval voting; which is also simpler for poor SEK than any reasonable ordinal system*)

      OK, enough geeky hairsplitting. In practical terms: +harrumph! What Murc said!

      *And Borda’s not reasonable, being an open invitation to pernicious strategizing.

    • SEK

      If you think Westeros is an island, I question that you are familiar enough with the source materiel to effectively teach it.

      Sorry. In my head Westeros is Great Britain, Essos the Russian steppes.

      Aside from the fact that she is going to be important for much longer than Ned is

      Not for the purposes of this class. I can always tell them to go back and read her chapters before moving on with the novels, but for practical purposes, Ned’s end is my course’s.

      • Cody

        To be fair, aren’t “Continents” just really big islands?

        • Church

          We’re not sure what Westeros attaches to in the North. But for all intents and purposes it is an island in the book.

  • Steve

    Make ’em work for it! It’s not that many pages.

  • greylocks

    A fair number of them have probably already read it. Which seems a bit unfair to those who haven’t. And how are they going to “watch it”? Do you have DVDs to hand out? How much do they have to watch? Are you going to show it in class or make them watch several one-hour episodes in their non-existent spare time?

    It just seems to me that GoT is a bit ambitious for the length of the class.

    What exactly is the course, anyway?

    • greylocks

      Adding that back whn I was a freshman at Michigran State, admittedly several decades ago, I got buried with reading assignments in the history and English classes I was required to take, and I was trying to juggle calculus, econ and some kind of logic class in the mix. Plus a 24-hour-a-week job.

      • SEK

        A fair number of them have probably already read it.

        I assure you, they haven’t.

        And how are they going to “watch it”? Do you have DVDs to hand out?

        There are ways. I’ll say no more.

        How much do they have to watch?

        The first ten episodes. They can handle ten episodes in four weeks.

        Are you going to show it in class or make them watch several one-hour episodes in their non-existent spare time?

        In my experience, as per above, I typically don’t have to “make” them watch anything. Once I help them see why it’s interesting, they tend to go above and beyond when it comes to the watching.

        What exactly is the course, anyway?

        A theme-and/or-work oriented freshmen composition course. I’m teaching them how to construct arguments about matters in which they believe themselves to have some small amount of expertise, hence the focus on the a single work presented in two media.

        Once upon a time, I used to provide a caveat along these lines:

        Before I continue, I’ll add the same caveat I have to all these analyses designed for freshmen-level composition courses: they’re designed for freshmen-level composition courses. I’m attempting to model engaged cultural criticism for students who consider culture something to be passively consumed, i.e. I provide the tools then teach them how to construct a persuasive rhetorical argument.

        I may have to start doing that again. I don’t mean that in a hostile way, just that I think I assume people know what I’m doing, and that’s not necessarily a valid assumption.

        • greylocks

          It’s hard for me to keep you guys straight here at LG&M. Then throw in all the other blogs I read. Not intended as criticism, just saying that even some of us regulars aren’t very good at tracking each individual blogger’s “story” over any period of time.

          • SEK

            I’ve actually found it the opposite. Some of you people remember things I wrote years ago that, when linked to, I just sort of stare at. (And then want to edit the shit out of, because what was “I” thinking?)

            • greylocks

              On the plus side, at least you’re writing memorable stuff.

  • Spoffin

    Doubling down on the blasphemy: the next best candidates for skipping are the prologue, which has little to do with anything else anyway. If you still have dire need to bring the page count down, I would recommend skipping all of Jon’s chapters after the first two (7 chapters total), as they are also a more or less self-contained narrative.

    That brings up the total of skipped chapters to 18, out of 73 chapters – about 25% less

    • Jameson Quinn

      +Harrumph. Anyone who wants to will read that stuff anyway. Or will already have read it before the class.

    • SEK

      the next best candidates for skipping are the prologue, which has little to do with anything else anyway.

      I can’t do that, because introductions matter. It’s the first impression, both of the novel and the television series, and it sets the tone. I need that in there.

      I would recommend skipping all of Jon’s chapters after the first two (7 chapters total)

      I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, that might certainly work. Thanks!

  • This sounds like the most inane class ever.

    • SEK

      Better I have them read and write about Emerson and giant floating eyeballs that they don’t understand. You can discover the purpose of my course easily enough by reading above in this thread or around in past ones of mine. Calling a class that teaches the benefit of acquiring expertise before constructing persuasive arguments makes it look like you’re the one missing the point, i.e. it’s not the vehicle that matters, it’s the lesson.

      • rea

        “I am nothing; I see all”

      • Yes, the only options are a) pop culture cotton candy or b) dead white canonical males.

        Like I said, inane.

        And definitely a waste of your students’ collective tuition dollars.

  • Mr. F

    Perhaps you can split the baby another way. If you let the reading overlap with starting the show, that’d be a more manageable 135 pages/week (Even less if you still cut Dany.) maybe start the show in week 5, finish off the novel week 6, then back to the show?

    Also, why couldn’t you have taught my freshman comp class.

    • SEK

      This is the way I’m going, it looks like. It’s going to be a bit tedious to make sure the chapters and episodes overlap in a way that neither ruins the other — and I’m sure I’ll fail a few times — but prep is prep.

      • Summer Stark

        I’m not sure if this is what you mean, exactly, but here is a resource that tracks the chapters covered in each episode–here’s s1e1: http://www.westeros.org/GoT/Episodes/Entry/Winter_is_Coming/Book_Spoilers/#Book_to_Screen.

        (It’s by the guys GRRM points others to, like the actors, and works with, as a source for all things aSoIaF).

        Hope it helps!

        • SEK

          My life just became orders of magnitude easier. Thanks!

          • Summer Stark

            Glad to hear it! There is a lot of info on the site, but it is spoiler-heavy. I don’t know if you’ve read all 5 books, but if not, I’d say just stick to that area of the site (if so, nevermind :)).

            Also, the guys who run the site–Elio and Linda–would be a great resource. They’re the ones writing “The World of Ice and Fire” with GRRM (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/The_World_of_Ice_and_Fire). Elio is a mod on the forum–his board name is Ran–and he is pretty accessible that way.

            Best of luck!

  • Walt

    I think this is a bad plan. A curriculum requirement is making you turn your class on visual rhetoric into a class on Game of Thrones. You should pick a short book that fits in the class. Maybe Grendel? As someone pointed out in the Beowolf thread, it’s short. Beowolf –> Lord of the Rings –> Game of Thrones makes a natural historical segue.

    • SEK

      I tend to prefer singularly oriented courses, because the students genuinely feel that all the time they’ve invested grants them a certain amount of expertise, and that’s the portable lesson: do loads of research, be single-minded about it, and there will be dividends. Given that this is a writing-oriented course, there’s only so much introducing of material I can do.

  • Anonymous

    This must be the White Male Studies course every turd’s been yammering for since the dawn of time. Kudos.

    • SEK

      Except for the discussions we’ll be having about the representations of other races; the place of women in patriarchal societies; and the implicit ablest arguments that flow through every Tyrion chapter, then yes, you’re absolutely correct. I’m that turd.

      Next time you comment, please be familiar enough with the material for it to make sense. Thank you!

      • Anonymous

        There’s a subtle but important difference between revising Tolkien to make him more of a feminist and less of a white supremacist, and using Tolkien’s racism and misogyny as a starting point for addressing said racism, said misogyny in said works. That being said, none of the Great White Works you’re reading / viewing address women (ableist bigotry, chauvinism) in the way you think they do. They glorify the oppression, not deconstruct it. Keep fumbling towards an apology, though, bro.

        • SEK

          Glorify it? You’re being far too general in your dismissiveness for me to refute you — which, I suspect, is your point — but you’d have to provide specific evidence that, for example, the sexual situations that seemed designed to create awkwardness are actually designed to titillate to prove oppression. Really, there’s a lesbian sex scene in the first season that occurs and is managed by Littlefinger while he talks to another character about unrelated matters. I’d like to see how that’s supposed to be more titillating than Swearington delivering a monologue while receiving head. I’m not going to say that the series isn’t problematic — it obviously is — but you’re making blanket statements you can’t back up, which is exactly the sort of bad-reading practice that courses like mine are intended to fix.

    • Jameson Quinn

      First time ever that a course focuses on a work written by a white male! Hey you, patriarchal lawn, get off my kids!

  • Halloween Jack

    I have a most excellent solution.

    1) Tell them that they don’t have to read the Daenerys chapters.

    2) Drop heavy hints that those chapters have most of the hot sex in them.


    • Jameson Quinn

      Wins the thread.

  • Crap, as a long time SF reader Eli has always been of the opinion that The Game of Thrones and similar fantasy crap was simply a covert way of killing trees.

    Makes Ayn Rand look terse.

    • Jameson Quinn

      GoT is more hard-SF in spirit than, say, Star Wars. With the lamentable exception of the plotline that starts with Beric, magic follows rules, and is a means for exploring consequences, not moral status or psyches.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Not saying it’s the best writing ever, but I’d put it up against say Heinlein any day. This is NOT in the same class as Robert Jordan-like crap.

        • Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that reading phone books is not a good investment of time.

          • SEK

            However far my opinion matters to you, I’ll say that one thing that George Martin has that 99 percent of fantasy and science fiction writers don’t is an ear for voice. His characters speak distinctively and memorably enough that even if they’re disguised in the narrative proper, they can still be recognized. I’m not saying he’s Gaddis, but he’s really quite excellent. (And not that a good ear is necessary to write good science fiction or fantasy, I’m talking to you Iain M. Banks.)

            • Jameson Quinn

              Makes for good TV, too, because the actors get a meaty character to play from/with.

          • Halloween Jack

            Some, including Jack, think that Eli should stop referring to himself in the third person; it seems pretentious.

            • Bug or feature?

              Eli is having fun

              • Jaqen H’ghar

                A man needs a name. A commenter has given a name. Death is certain.

  • Evan

    Why not just invert the plan and have them watch it before they read it? Sure, they’ll get “poisoned” by the less-pure version of the story first, but there’s lots of sex and action that might prime them better for the reading/make the reading more manageable. By week 4-5 you’ll have a much better idea of who likes the fundamental story and who doesn’t, along with who’s in the wrong class for their interests versus who can’t handle the college-level work being thrown at them for the first time.

    • Jameson Quinn

      I usually agree with the goat (book is better) but not for GoT. The TV version is more like a less-prolix second draft.

  • Dennis Brennan

    1) I’m an enthusiastic fan of the book and the show, but is the book really suitable teaching material? For one thing, it’s part 1 of 5-so-far-and-who-knows. Just because you’re teaching the show, does it make sense to retread similar content by using the novel in the syllabus? Why not pick a different book?

    2) If you’re determined to pick the book but not require all of the chapters, it’s got to be you who selects what chapters get dropped. People who haven’t already read the entire book are in no position to make an informed judgment about which chapters ought to get skipped.

    3) I could see skipping Dany. But you can also make a good case for skipping a lot of the Bran chapters. The narration is extremely unreliable, and there’s generally not a payoff of that material in this book.

    • Summer Stark

      Bran is a very important POV, especially in book one. *Book 1 SPOILERS*

      Bran I we get the dw, the beheading of the nw deserter and Ned’s ethos.

      Bran II, the crippling event.

      Bran III, his dreams of what is actually going on around the realm, the first hint of his greensight/omniscience–the first character with any “magic” in the story outside of the white walkers.

      Bran IV, the story of the whitewalkers by old nan, plus the interaction with Tyrion giving him the plans for the saddle–the first major hint that Tyrion wasn’t behind the attack on Bran.

      Bran V, the wildlings fleeing the north, the great scene where the dw rescue Bran, Robb and Theon discussing calling the banners after Jaime kills Jory et al. And at this point, he is the only Winterfell POV after he wakes up.

      Bran VI, the bannermen coming to Winterfell, and Robb prepping to march south and save Ned (again the only POV of Winterfell).

      Bran VII, Bran and Rickon dreaming that Ned was dead, more magic, plus the stories of the old kings of winter, and of lyanna and rhaegar, giving a possibly false perspective on her “abduction” and giving yet another clue about what Lyanna really meant when she said “promise me, Ned.”

      • Summer Stark

        Oh right and of course the major foreshadowing of the stag killing the dw in Bran I.

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  • njorl

    I wonder if I’ll live to read the 12th book of Martin’s seven book trilogy.

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