EN242 Arthurian Literature and its Legacy
Module convenor: Dr Marco Nievergelt
1. To understand the evolution of Arthurian myth from the mid twelfth to the mid fifteenth centuries, and to examine different national responses to its portrayal of British imperialism.
2. To understand some of the genres and voices of medieval Arthurian narratives, including its resort to prophecy, epic discourse, pseudo-historical discourse, pseudo-exegesis and courtly romance.
3. To further knowledge of Middle English language through a study of several major works of Middle English literature contemporary with or later than those studied in EN121.
4. To examine the reasons behind the Arthurian revival in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain and America, together with the ways in which the myth has been rearticulated to encompass Victorian, modern and post-modern concerns.
Texts to Buy
Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, trans. L. Thorpe (Penguin), 1996
Chretien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances, trans. W. W. Kibler (Penguin), 1991
Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan, trans. A. T. Hatto (Penguin), 1967
Robert de Boron, Merlin and the Grail (tr.) Nigel Bryant (D.S. Brewer), 2005
The Quest of the Holy Grail, trans. P. Matarasso (Penguin), 1975
Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur: The Winchester Manuscript, ed. and abridged H. Cooper (Oxford World Classics pbk)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, (Penguin), 1983
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, (Penguin)
T. H. White, The Once and Future King (Voyager)
Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave (Coronet)
1. A one and a half hour seminar weekly.
2. A short visual presentation of Pre-Raphaelite art in term 2.
Attend seminars, having prepared material as directed by your tutor.
For students taking the module as 100% assessed: submit two essays, each of 5000 words, due on Tuesday, week 2, of 2nd and 3rd terms.
For students taking the module 50/50: submit one 5000 word essay, due on Tuesday, week 2, of term 2, and write a final 2 hours examination.
2 essays (each 50%) over 2 hours.
Useful Background Reading
R.S. Loomis, The Development of Arthurian Romance, 1970
N.J. Lacy, G. Ashe & D.N. Mancoff, The Arthurian Handbook, 1988
D. Pearsall, Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction, 2003
The two longer texts for term 1, which you might try to read over the summer, are Gottfried von Strassbourg’s Tristan,
and the anon. Quest of the Holy Grail. See above for publication details.
Plan of Module
This outline aims to show what primary reading is required. The module bibliography will provide a list of secondary
materials from which you can select further reading.
Autumn Term 2016
The Early Arthur of History and the Chronicles
Week 1 Introduction and Arthurian ‘prehistory’.
Week 2 Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain c.1136 (tr.) Parts 4-7 pp. 149-261. And book dedication, pp. 51-52.
The Knights of the Round Table: Contending Modes of Chivalry
Week 3 Chretien de Troyes, Le chevalier de la charrete, 1170s (tr.)
Week 4 Chretien de Troyes, Le chevalier au lion, 1170s (tr.)
Week 5 Marie de France, Lanval, 1180s (handout); Thomas Chestre, Sir Launfal, c.1400 - available online at http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/laskaya-and-salisbury-middle-english-breton-lays
Week 7 Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan, c.1210 (tr.)
Week 8 Middle English Gawain romances 14th-15th century: The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle, The Awntyrs off Arthur - all available online at http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/hahn-sir-gawain
The Christian Arthur: the Quest for the Grail
Week 9 Robert de Boron, Merlin and the Grail (tr.) 1190s (pp. 15-63, 92-94, 105-156)
Week 10 anon. Quest of the Holy Grail (from French vulgate cycle), c.1230 (tr.)
Spring Term 2017
The Late Medieval Arthur: theories of downfall
Week 1 Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur, Bks 1 & 2: From the Marriage of King Uther unto King Arthur, King Arthur and Lucius the Emperor of Rome, c.1460
Week 2, Malory, Morte d'Arthur, Bks 3 and 4: The Tale of Lancelot; The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney
Week 3, Malory, Morte d'Arthur, Bks 7 & 8: Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, The Death of Arthur.
Victorian responses to Arthur in poetry and art
Week 4 Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King. Please read: Dedication and Coming of Arthur, Balan and Balin, Merlin and Vivien, The Holy Grail, The Last Tournament, Guinevere, The Passing of Arthur
Week 5 Pre-Raphaelite art and poetry: William Morris, A.C. Swinburne
(on handouts). Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederick Sandys etc. (short slide show)
American, modernist, children’s and feminist Arthurian fiction
Week 7 Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 1889
Week 8 Poems from John Masefield, Midsummer Night, 1928 (on handout)
Week 9 T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone (1st book in series of The Once and Future King), 1939, rev.1958
Week 10 Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave, 1970
Summer Term 2017