English Professor Unmasks "The Real Medieval Game of Thrones," April 6

brantleybryant.pngMedieval literature expert Dr. Brantley Bryant feels lucky these days, because ever since the appearance of the hit television HBO medieval fantasy drama "Game of Thrones," more and more people are getting interested in things like royal succession, jousting, and the best way to besiege a castle.

The SSU English professor will be offering a special presentation called "The Real Medieval Game of Thrones" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the Petaluma Regional Library, 100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.

Called "the Sopranos in Middle Earth" by HBO television producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, "Game of Thrones" is an adaptation of "A Song of Ice and Fire," George R. R. Martin's best-selling series of fantasy novels, the first of which is titled "A Game of Thrones."


It might just seem to be a very violent soap opera wearing a medieval outfit, but Bryant argues that the facts and fictions of the real medieval world run through it. Not just the story's setting, but its characters, morals, and plot all have their roots in the poetry and politics of distant centuries, he says.


Bryant's lecture addresses some of the "real" medieval bits of "Game of Thrones." "Connections with real medieval literature show us ways that the Middle Ages can still speak to our society perhaps more urgently than ever," Bryant says. "The world of clashing cultures and invading dynasties is the epic stuff in fantasy literature but it is also English medieval history remixed."


Bryant, an assistant professor of English literature at Sonoma State, has a long-term interest in discovering the ways that medieval literature is surprisingly present and important for our contemporary world. His expertise is in the literature of the European Middle Ages, particularly Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) and late medieval British literature. He joined the SSU faculty in the fall of 2007 after completing his Ph. D. in English at Columbia University in New York.


Bryant draws his students into the world of medieval literature in his classes, and comments on the medieval and modern in a blog written in the voice of medieval writer Geoffrey Chaucer. The blog, an innovative hybrid of scholarly and creative work, gained a cult following among academic medievalists and is now often used in classroom exercises. It was published as a book called "Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog: Medieval Studies and New Media" by academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan for their innovative "New Middle Ages" series.


Bryant has also recently published an article in a collection of essays called *Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture,* a scholarly collection that features work by an international group of scholars who examine medieval culture's lasting hold on the modern imagination.


He can be reached at (707) 664-2442 or brantley.bryant@sonoma.edu.

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