It is widely acknowledged that the hit franchise Game of Thrones is based on the Wars of the Roses, a bloody fifteenth-century civil war between feuding English families. In this book, Jeffrey R. Wilson shows how that connection was mediated by Shakespeare, and how a knowledge of the Shakespearean context enriches our understanding of the literary elements of Game of Thrones.
On the one hand, Shakespeare influenced Game of Thrones indirectly because his history plays significantly shaped the way the Wars of the Roses are now remembered, including the modern histories and historical fictions George R.R. Martin drew upon. On the other, Game of Thrones also responds to Shakespeare’s first tetralogy directly by adapting several of its literary strategies (such as shifting perspectives, mixed genres, and metatheater) and tropes (including the stigmatized protagonist and the prince who was promised). Presenting new interviews with the Game of Thrones cast, and comparing contextual circumstances of composition—such as collaborative authorship and political currents—this book also lodges a series of provocations about writing and acting for the stage in the Elizabethan age and for the screen in the twenty-first century.
An essential read for fans of the franchise, as well as students and academics looking at Shakespeare and Renaissance literature in the context of modern media.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Tudor Myth 2. Martin’s Shakespeare 3. The Shakespearean Slingshot 4. Composition History and Co(rporate)-Authorship 5. From True Tragedy to Historical Fantasy 6. Comical-Tragical-Historical-Pastoral: Mixed Genre 7. Narrative Relief: From Comedy to Nudity 8. Spectacle and Success from the Medieval Church Service to CGI 9. Game of Thrones as Shakespearean Performance: Interviews with the Actors 10. External Predictability, Internal Unpredictability 11. Eddard as Gloucester: De Casibus Virorum Illustrum 12. Wars of Roses: A Literary Trope in Social Life 13. The Stigmatized Protagonist: The Tragic Model and the Heroic Model 14. Girl Power: Mimetic Feminism and Rhetorical Misogyny 15. Generic Bias: Gender, Race, Criticism 16. The Bloody Hand: Intertextual Metatheater 17. The Targaryen Myth 18. How George R.R. Martin Changed the Ending of Game Of Thrones 19. Fandom as IKEA Effect
Jeffrey R. Wilson is a faculty member in the Writing Program at Harvard University, USA, where he teaches the Why Shakespeare? section of the university’s first-year writing course. Focused on intersections of Renaissance literature and modern sociology, his work has appeared in the academic journals Modern Language Quarterly, Genre, and College Literature, and public venues like National Public Radio, Salon, and MLA’s Profession.