This essay explores diachronic processes of gendered white racial formation, taking HBO’s Game of Thrones (2007-) as a central example of the persistence of the nineteenth century’s aesthetic vision of women in contemporary medievalist television. The series portrays the essential medievalist female body as a white body – clothed or unclothed – reproducing an aesthetic gaze that draws heavily on pre-Raphaelite forms, while orientalism provides the dominant model for a female body coded racially ‘Other.’ Whiteness and medievalist nostalgia coalesce to prioritise white female bodies at the same time as they are made the objects of violent desire, while non-white female bodies are repeatedly displaced or marginalized even as they are stripped bare. Reading the visual program of the HBO series alongside examples from nineteenth-century art, the article shows that the racial coding of women in Game of Thrones reproduces an aesthetic treatment of women’s bodies popularized during the Victorian era.
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Downes, S., Young, H. The maiden fair: Nineteenth-century medievalist art and the gendered aesthetics of whiteness in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Postmedieval 10, 219–235 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41280-019-00124-0