Instructor Spotlight: Lacey Wall and Katie Hobart

The ExCollege caught up with Explorations Leaders Lacey Walls and Katie Hobart to discuss their class, Game of Thrones: Power, Politics, and Patriarchy.
Lacey Walls and Katie Hobart

What inspired you to teach this course?

Lacey Walls: I really enjoy science fiction and fantasy’s propensity for extensive world-building, which is what immediately hooked me on Game of Thrones in high school when I made a bet with friends that I could finish the show in the two weeks before the finale aired. When Katie took an ExCollege class freshman year, it sounded like a really fun time, and we started joking about what it would be like if we taught a class on another show we loved. Game of Thrones felt perfect with its huge cultural impact and the many complex elements in its characters and world.

Katie Hobart: One of my favorite parts of my freshman year was an Explorations course I took on Avatar: The Last Airbender. As a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I began thinking of what a similar course about GoT would look like. While the show was still airing, there were lots of episodes that had sparked deep and meaningful conversation among the friends I was watching with. Lacey and I had been talking about the show one day in our first year at Tufts, and how the fantasy world they built reflected and highlighted aspects of our own, and I asked if she would want to teach an ExCollege class on GoT with me. And thus the idea was born.

What has the experience of teaching and designing this course taught you?

LW: It’s a lot harder to design a course than I expected! Putting the syllabus together felt like an intensive task that I was so proud we finished, but lesson planning every week is where the creativity has really come in. Game of Thrones has a considerable amount of lore and world building, so we had so many potential themes or weekly topics to choose from and trying to be chronological with the show has taken some work. It’s definitely given me a new respect for all the work that goes into crafting the syllabi for my classes every semester.

KH: I've learned to give more credit to my teachers. Coming up with engaging educational activities related to our course has taken a lot of time and creativity, but we’ve already learned so much from our teaching experience.

Do you have a favorite Game of Thrones character?

LW: Tyrion is easily my favorite character, both because I think he’s hilarious and because I love Peter Dinklage. Tyrion is shown to face constant obstacles throughout the show because of his dwarfism, but his wealth and status as a Lannister provides him the ability to still have substantial influence on the political situation of Westeros, which makes him a particularly interesting character to me. He’s also incredibly witty, charismatic, and intelligent, and I think his brilliant strategizing really pushes the plot forward while also providing great comedic relief.

KH: I’ve always been a fan of Daenerys, although Olenna and Tywin are close seconds.

What are your thoughts on the prequel series, House of the Dragon?

LW: We didn’t change our syllabus to include House of the Dragon, but our students have brought up the show and the history of Westeros that it depicts in class discussions. I’ve only watched the first two episodes of the prequel (I just can’t unsee Matt Smith as the Doctor), but I’m planning to binge the rest soon!

KH: After I saw the first episode of House of the Dragon, I was really excited to see that they were diving into patriarchy and misogyny much more deeply than Game of Thrones had. It offers a really interesting view about women’s role historically in society, and we’ve had a couple of interesting discussions with our students about it. However, because some of them have not been watching the show, we haven’t added it to our syllabus.

What do you hope students will take away from this class?

LW: Academically, I hope our students leave class being able to analyze our world and its structures in the same way that we’ve spent the semester analyzing Westeros and Essos and the characters living there. But my biggest hope for the class has been that our students would develop friendships and a greater sense of belonging at Tufts, which I think Katie and I have definitely seen in our students and has been my favorite part of being a peer teacher.

KH: Our students have had a lot of really thoughtful discussions so far, and we hope that, broadly, our course will encourage them to thoughtfully analyze other material that is generally considered “non-academic,” in addition to giving them the tools required for critical analysis within their courses.

Lacey Walls (she/her) is a junior majoring in Sociology and Economics from High Springs, Florida. She’s involved on-campus with HCAT and the Humanist Chaplaincy, COFFEE Interfaith club, and the Tufts Burlesque Troupe. She also works as a research assistant with Tufts’ Office of Institutional Research and an Advising Fellow for Matriculate.

Katie Hobart (she/her) is a junior majoring in Linguistics through the Interdisciplinary Studies department. Outside of class, her main activities are EFL tutoring and Krav Maga/MMA.