NIU Using “Game Of Thrones” To Teach About Media And History

CHICAGO (CBS) — The hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” is the focus of a college class at Northern Illinois University.

Some might hear about a class on “Game of Thrones” and think it’s just a time to sit around talking about TV, but NIU professor Jeff Chown said students have to think.

“We’re not giving credit for people to watch TV, we’re giving credit for people to read, and to write, and to criticize, and to think creatively,” he said. “I want to stress that these students are really doing a lot of work. They’re reading a lot of stuff every week, we’ve given them very detailed papers that we want them to write, and they have a quiz each week on the readings.

The honors seminar offered by Chown and professor Valerie Garver discusses issues such as binge-watching, the business of television, how much sex and violence should be included, and how much culture and history impact what the audience sees on the screen.

“The question is whether it is gratuitous. If you are doing a show about politics and war, I think you are going to show violence, and the question is whether they’re doing it in a way that’s just meant to get viewers,” Chown said.

Students in Chown’s class are forced to think critically not just about the show, but about media in general.

“I’m using a very hot television show to inspire a very intellectual pursuit,” he said.

He said there’s already a waiting list for the next time the class is offered.

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