Dragons, War, Fire, and Desire

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Pam Fox Kuhlken, Dept. of Classics & Humanities, and Dept. of Religious Studies; with Umanisti Classics Organization and MALAS and the Dept. of Humanities, San Diego State University
contact email: 

Let’s not wait for George R.R. Martin to wrap up ASOIAF with the 3,000 page The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Let’s talk of thrones and let the games resume this fertile Beltrane (May Day, Friday, May 1, 2020), opening with a panel on Season 8 of A Game of Thrones, airing what went right and wrong with the HBO series, viewed by 31 million. Perhaps you want to craft a formal paper (20 minutes) or propose joining a panel (or bring your own team from campus); offer a lightning presentation (5 minutes) or experiment with a PechaKucha (20 slides, 20 second commentary each, in 6’40” total). Joining our academic enterprises will be a medieval re-enactment society in full gear and weaponry, staging battles; a fencing duel; and a medieval quartet to close the day.  Refreshments will be provided.  No registration fee for this free event open to the public as well as academics, thanks to our SDSU sponsors (Research Foundation; MALAS—M.A. in Liberal Studies; and the Dept. of Humanities). Submit your 200+ word proposal and short bio to Dr. Pam Fox, pkuhlken@sdsu.edu by March 15th.


A global phenomenon since 2011, enraging and enchanting a global audience, Game of Thrones is clearly more than a good story with fans making pilgrimages, hackers ransoming plot leaks for millions, and filming at an increasingly epic scale from Iceland and Belfast to Morocco and Dubrovnik. Famously adapted from George R.R. Martin’s soon-to-be (!?) finished book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO’s medieval fantasy world is The Sopranos in Middle-Earth (according to showrunner David Benioff), spanning two continents, Westeros and Essos, and focusing on dynastic power struggles for possession of the Iron Throne in order to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Political intrigue, incest, rape, and murder threaten inhabitants alongside White Walkers, witches, giants, and dragons. Fantasy helps us understand today’s anxieties about war, gender, murder, and politics, helping secular media pilgrims to cobble out meaning and forge identity. We invite you, scholars from a broad range of disciplines, to engage your lingering questions and share your analyses on a broad range of topics about ASOIAF or GOT as formally or informally as you like at this May Day symposium: Martin’s historical sources? Notable production aspects? Archetypal, mythic themes and characters? Adapting literature for the screen? Is this series misogynist, patriarchal, feminist, or anarchist? Is this business as usual in politics?