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Medieval mad science: Depicting scientists in HBO’s Game of Thrones

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With its medieval-styled sword and sorcery, Game of Thrones hardly presents a narrative world where we would expect to find science or scientists. Yet science plays a prominent role in the high-fantasy narrative and at the centre of this is Qyburn, a scientist figure worth detailed consideration. Using the perennial sociocultural concept of the mad scientist as the starting point, this article examines how the morally complex world of Game of Thrones presents science as dangerous yet essential to the boundary breaking necessary for the creation of new medical and technical knowledge.
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Keywords: Game of Thrones; George R. R. Martin; fantasy; popular culture; scientists; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Queensland University of Technology

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • Science permeates contemporary culture at multiple levels, from the technology in our daily lives to our dreams of other worlds in fiction. The Journal of Science & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed academic publication that seeks to explore the complex and evolving connections between science and global society.

    Working with a distinguished international board, the Journal of Science & Popular Culture aims to create a unique forum in which to analyse, chronicle, and interpret this diverse landscape through original research articles, editorials, book and new media reviews, notes and essays. The journal also provides a site where emerging and established scholars can access salient knowledge and cutting-edge research. Contributions from academics, scientists, communicators, industry professionals, and practitioners with an interest in the science and society interface are invited. Any scholarly approaches or disciplines may be used and the Journal of Science & Popular Culture strongly reinforces interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, opening up new possibilities for inquiry across and between the humanities and sciences.

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