Rice University in Houston, Texas has announced a class in which playing Bethesda’s epic role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, will be one of the main focuses. Now, before you go running down to Houston in hopes of nabbing an easy credit, it’s only open to Rice students and will involve more than just adventuring and dragon-slaying. The class will delve into the depths of medieval Scandinavian culture, using old Norse stories to find connections between the fantasy and the old stories, discovering where the fantasy became something completely its own.

Below is the full class description taken from Rice University’s English Department website:

“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 anyone out there in the audience is lucky enough to get in on this class, let me know how it goes. I’d be more than willing to help you out with any homework.