As if we needed another reason to say that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the best game to come out recently, Rice University in Houston has announced an upcoming course that will allow students to play the game as part of the course.
The course is ENGL 312: “Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim” and is being taught by instructor Donna Beth Ellard, who I feel it’s safe to say, will be the coolest professor on campus after this course starts up. Here’s the full course description:
“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.”
If you attend Rice University, you shouldn’t even be reading this anymore, you should be running as quickly as possible to your Registrar’s office to sign up for this amazing class. As for the rest of us, next time someone tells us we’re rotting our brains away by playing our video games, we can confidently turn to them and explain how we’re learning about Nordic mythology.