SoSe 13: S-Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Gender, Media II: Robin Hood
Andrew James Johnston
With the exception of King Arthur, perhaps, Robin Hood can arguably be called today's most famous medieval Englishman. But, like King Arthur, he remains ultimately a legendary figure of whose ... read more
With the exception of King Arthur, perhaps, Robin Hood can arguably be called today's most famous medieval Englishman. But, like King Arthur, he remains ultimately a legendary figure of whose historical origins we know little - indeed, he might not even have existed at all.
Most of the things we think we know about him are part of a legend created in the Early Modern period, at a time when the historical Robin Hood - if he did exist - would have long been dead. Our present-day image of the hero is shaped by layers of interpretations, by successive attempts at making a figure of popular resistance more acceptable to aristocratic society, more fit for the intended readership of Victorian children's books or more palatable to generations of American cinema-goers since the nineteen-twenties. Thus, Robin Hood is remembered today as a man who took from the rich and gave to the poor, something the earliest poems about him do not tell us. There he did, indeed, take from the rich, but what he took, he kept.
In this seminar, we will subject to critical scrutiny some of the earliest sources on Robin Hood, the ballads and poems from the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, and then move on to a selection of cultural representations ranging from Shakespeare to Hollywood and TV which will show us how the legend developed into what it has become.
A reader containing relevant material will be available to students when the course starts.