I’m usually only jealous of friends in Texas because they get to go to the Alamo Drafthouse, but now they also get a Skyrim college class! Leading research college Rice University in Houston is offering a course that dives into the gamer culture and the mythology of Skyrim.
The course is called Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim and is described as follows:
This course has two goals. First, it introduces students to fantasy as both psychological concept and driving force in gamer culture; and second, using these paradigms, it considers how and why medieval Scandinavia serves as a locus of modern Anglo-American fantasy. To these ends, students will read selections from Old Norse and Old Icelandic sagas (in translation) as they play different quests within Skyrim. While the course begins by identifying moments of intersection between the worlds of the sagas and of Skyrim (inclement environments, supernatural figures, mythologies), the course is not in any means meant to map the former onto the latter. The purpose of establishing these connections is to then consider how elements of medieval Scandinavian culture have been taken out of historical milieu and literary context, morphed into unfamiliar shape, and appropriated towards other fantastic pursuits. We’ll consider the political saga of Skyrim, with its emphasis on Empire and rebellion, as pursuits made possible by way of Scandinavia in order to think through what Scandinavian fantasy worlds are really about and why they resonate with contemporary Anglo-American culture.
It’s only being offered for a single semester, and I predict it will be full with a long waiting list.
Even though I didn’t love my college experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for a class like this for fun if it were offered nearby. In fact, it would be awesome if someone could translate an abbreviated version of this to a panel at Comic-Con.