Stories about King Arthur were told throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, and he remains a familiar figure even in modern culture. This course focuses on Arthurian romances in Middle English ... read more
Stories about King Arthur were told throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, and he remains a familiar figure even in modern culture. This course focuses on Arthurian romances in Middle English literature. It takes as its starting-point the text that has become the most influential of all English versions of the Arthurian Legend, Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur (completed ca. 1470). It also addresses the atmospheric and cleverly constructed 'alliterative' romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (C14), as well as a selection of some of the other Gawain romances, including the uncanny Awntyrs of Arthur; the Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, and its analogue in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath's Tale. Each of these texts has a distinct character of its own, responding in different ways to the ideas and assumptions implicit in the Arthurian theme.
Malory: Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript, ed. Helen Cooper (Oxford, 2008) - essential reading: please buy a copy
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed./trans. W.R.J. Barron (Manchester, 1998) - essential reading: please buy a copy
Gawain romances: Sir Gawain: Eleven Romances and Tales, ed. Thomas Hahn (Kalamazoo, 1995) - not necessary to buy: freely available online at http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/hahn-sir-gawain
Suggested initial background reading:
Pearsall, Derek, Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003)