Winter Comes to Rollins

Game of Thrones is starting up again this Sunday. Find out the best places to watch this season—and which class has students interacting with GoT to study medieval history.

This Sunday (April 12) marks the return of HBO’s wildly successful Game of Thrones (GoT). With $6 million invested in each episode and an average of 93 million viewers per airing, HBO has spared no expense on the fifth season of George R.R Martin’s series. Heavy promotion material released daily on the Game of Thrones Facebook has been enticing viewers awaiting the release.

Here at Rollins College, we are not immune to GoT fever. In late March, Greek organizations competed under the flags of their favorite GoT houses, mimicking all of the festivities, but none of the violence.

For that kind of thing, you have to travel to Orlando Hall and sit in on Game of Thrones. The course, a new offering this semester, allows GoT fans to study Westeros while unearthing the actual historical events that inspired the show.

Jana Mathews, assistant professor of English at Rollins and the course’s instructor finds that “when studying the distant past, it helps tremendously to start from a place of familiarity.” Mathews specializes in medieval literature, but rather than focusing on the old, she choses to use pop culture as a lens to learn about the Middle Ages. The strategy comes from her philosophy that a student should not have to sit through a class that she herself would not be engaged in.

In the course, students are assigned to a house, and are required to participate in a series of Westeros-themed events, such as a GoT-themed Valentine’s Day, Westeros Idol, the Westeros Fashion Show, a feast, and a tournament.

Laura Sullivan 17' and Kate Stefanski 17' showcase their torture device Laura Sullivan 17' and Kate Stefanski 17' showcase their torture device This Thursday, the class will showcase their torture designs in a Torture Implement Tradeshow. Acting as potential buyers for the class’s wares, a panel of judges will decide which house presents the best representation of medieval torture. The torture device that draws the most investors takes the crown. Sound more like the real GoT yet?

That’s not the only similarity. Mathews stresses the importance of students connecting the dots between familiar and the foreign, discovering the real roots of the fictional universe: “When we start digging through medieval and early modern sources, we find that Littlefinger bears a striking resemblance to Shakespeare’s Iago; White Walkers were plucked from Anglo-Saxon and Norse mythology; and the famed Wall functions a lot like Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.”

For those of us not lucky enough to take the course, but who are still eager for the GoT release this Sunday at 9 p.m., you can catch the premier in various places on campus. Rollins added HBO to its television services last year. Certain locations at Rollins College are open to the general student body, while others you may have to have a friend let you in. The basement of the Holt building has a television, five couches, and plenty of viewing space. There’s also a television in Dave’s Down Under, located right outside the Grill, and Strong Hall has televisions in each building. 

So as you prepare for Fox Day and spring activities, don’t forget that winter and GoT season is almost upon us.