UVA Professor Lisa Woolfork teaches summer session “Game of Thrones” Class

From the article:

Woolfork and her students counter the notion that the class was easy, despite some recent media attention. “It was a lot of work. It was a lot of debate, a lot of conversation, a lot of disagreement,” said the professor. “This is the point of what we can do when we apply the skills of literary analysis to both a literary and televisual adaptation.”

“I can understand how people could see that, but it’s actually frustrating because a lot of my friends are saying, ‘Oh wow, easy class,’” said Snead. “I had to put in a lot of work and the same analytical work that I would if I were reading the text, and in some ways it was harder because we don’t normally watch TV shows like that. We just watch them for entertainment or something to do.”


At the end of the first book, Daenerys Targaryen emerges from the fire with her dragons, but without clothing or hair. In the show, she still has all of her hair. “Is that about female desirability?” asked Woolfork. “Does it make her less attractive to the traditional male viewer? Why make these choices?”

I always find myself fascinated by classes like these, although they tend to reflect the professors teaching them even more than most college courses do. Comparing and contrasting the original text source (ASOIAF by George R.R. Martin) versus the visuals and interaction presented to us on the TV show is an unparalleled opportunity to read as both a fan and as a exercise in active engagement.

I find myself extremely curious as to whether questions of race, casting,  and some of Martin’s very questionable assumptions about both history and its relationship to what he has written made it into the academic arena above at any point. For example:

Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

I don’t actually know which “Yorkish” England he means (I assume the one between 1460-80, but you never know), but I do know that (ironically :D)archaeological evidence shows that York, England at the very last gasp of the Roman Empire was about 20% citizens of African descent. In addition, physical evidence shows that hundreds, and perhaps thousands of North and Northwestern Africans, Near Easterners, and Central Asians were at Hadrian’s Wall during one of the last pushes of the empire to conquer Northern Europe. The Vikings traded with North Africa and the Middle and Near East for silks, beads, and other grave goods that can be analyzed and attributed not to “conquest” or “raids”, but trade.

Although the early Middle Ages in northern Europe tend to have a dearth of evidence that allows us to analyze this specific aspect of culture, historical periodization does not function as a “racial reset button”. Sadly, this knowledge has yet to be applied to popular culture, which is less than surprising considering that half the time, archaeological evidence has not even been seen or taken into account in art or history writing for the same period. Interdisciplinary projects in academia from this perspective are sorely needed, in my humble opinion, in order that educational materials can begin to reflect a more complete and nuanced view of the past, rather than one that serves current political agendas

In other words, Martin seems to have fallen for regurgitating the same “Historical Accuracy” spiel that is based in assumptions, not fact. (Incidentally, or perhaps not so incidentally, I have in fact read every book in ASOIAF so far, as well as seen every episode of the Game of Thrones show. That doesn’t stop people who have done neither from telling me I’m being “too critical” of it!)

Once again, a concept like historical accuracy does not apply to fantasy writing, but is always invoked when a creator has been criticized for perpetuating the lack of diversity endemic to fantasy media, whether it’s of race, gender, sexuality, ability, or other aspect of human diversity, in what they have created.

And after all, if the creators themselves can’t seem to parse the difference between accountability to what they believe is history, and accountability to the present and the diversity of the audience, how can we help but be confused by it? I believe that the more we engage with the media we love, the better it can reflect those of us who love it.

The killing of police officers is not only the destruction of life but an attack on democracy itself. We do not live in a military dictatorship, and police officers are not the representatives of an autarch, nor the enforcers of law handed down by decree. The police are representatives of a state that derives its powers from the people.


It is often said that it is difficult to indict and convict police officers who abuse their power. It is comforting to think of these acquittals and non-indictments as contrary to American values. But it is just as likely that they reflect American values. The three most trusted institutions in America are the military, small business, and the police.

To challenge the police is to challenge the American people, and the problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that we are majoritarian pigs. When the police are brutalized by people, we are outraged because we are brutalized. By the same turn, when the police brutalize people, we are forgiving because ultimately we are really just forgiving ourselves. Power, decoupled from responsibility, is what we seek.


We are the ones who designed the criminogenic ghettos. We are the ones who barred black people from leaving those ghettos. We are the ones who treat black men without criminal records as though they are white men with criminal records. We are the ones who send black girls to juvenile detention homes for fighting in school. We are the masters of the American gulag, a penal system “so vast,” writes sociologist Bruce Western, “as to draw entire demographic groups into the web.” And we are the ones who send in police to make sure it all goes according to plan.

—  Blue Lives Matter – superb, deeply thoughtful piece by the always-excellent Ta-Nehisi Coates. Complement with Margaret Mead, 40 years earlier, on crime, law enforcement, and the root of racism.

2015 Racing Miku “Princess Knight” x Max Factory’s figma horse! Every knight needs a horse, right? 

If you plan to sponsor GSR via the figma courses for the 2015 season, grab the horse to go along with it! The figma horse is available in both chestnut and white and is currently up for pre-order on Good Smile Company’s online shop (White) (Chestnut). Both horses are 4000 Yen each and are expected to ship in June of 2015. 

Give the knight her trusty steed! 

sports car week … burning rubber

start of the 1971 1000km di Monza, ‘Trofeo Filippo Caracciolo’

the brand new Ferrari 312PB of Jacky Ickx (n°15) taking the lead at the start while the pole sitter, the Martini Porsche 917K of Vic Elford & Gérard Larrouse (n°3) had a lesser start & got away as 3rd, edged in between are the Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 512M of Mike Parkes & Jo Bonnier (n°8) & the Autodelta Alfa Romeo T33/3 of Rolf Stommelen & Toine Hezemans (n°19)
it would be the Gulf Porsche 917K’s of JW Automotive that would be victorious, with Pedro Rodriguez & Jackie Oliver as winner & Jo Siffert & Derek Bell as runners up
the Alfa Romeo T33/3 of Andrea de Adamich & Henri Pescarolo would make the podium complete