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Syllabi

Courses in Medieval Arthurian Legends

Courses in Medieval and Post-Medieval Arthurian Legends


King Arthur in Literature and Film, Advanced Undergraduates and Graduate Students, Cynthia Gravlee, University of Montevallo
"After reviewing the medieval tales of Sir Thomas Malory, the source for our modern authors, we will focus on representative works of the 19th and 20th centuries. We will also learn from Arthurian films and will end the course with The Natural, a film based on the novel by Bernard Malamud."

Comparative Literature 506: Tests and Quests in Medieval Arthurian Literature, Graduate Students, Norris J. Lacy, Penn State University
"This course will study Arthurian works that prominently feature tests and quests. We will examine the extent to which these two activities can be distinguished from each other and will study the functions and conventions of each; in particular we will consider the way those conventions take shape and eventually, in some literatures, become "fossilized" into ordeal, ritual, or material for parody.

"We will concentrate on medieval literature, and we will of course give considerable attention to the greatest quest of them all: the quest for the Holy Grail. We will trace that quest (by Galahad, Perceval, and others) through texts in Welsh, French, German, and English. The final component of the course will be a brief look at some modern Arthurian interpretations, from Wagner to Eliot to John Boorman's Excalibur."

The Legends of King Arthur: The Once and Future King , a Liberal Studies seminar for graduate students and advanced undergraduates, John T. Sebastian, Loyola University of New Orleans
"This course surveys the origins and development of one of the richest and most enduring traditions in all of world literature: the legend of Arthur, rex quondam, rexque futurus, "the once and future king." Primary focus will be on medieval historical and literary imaginings of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Camelot, the Holy Grail, and the Round Table, but some attention will also be given to contemporary archaeological evidence, manuscripts and their illustrations, and music as well as to more recent literary and cinematic adaptations of the legends.
"The course will operate as a seminar; students will therefore play as great a role if not a greater one in determining the direction of class discussion as the instructor. Several key themes that are likely to recur, however, include the transmission of the so-called "matter of Britain" throughout medieval European literature; competing codes of chivalric and courtly ethics; the quest as a metaphor for the search for identity; the conflict between secular and sacred ethics and desire; the shape of the legend as a function of genre (chronicle, romance, lai, prose text); the relationship between literature and material culture; and issues of sex and gender. The instructor will occasionally offer mini-lectures on relevant background materials, but only as an incitement to even wider-ranging discussion."

Malory and the Arthurian Tradition, Graduate Seminar, Paul Szarmach, Western Michigan University
Malory's Morte is surely the best Arthurian work ever written by a (probable) convicted felon, cattle-rustler, and all-around ne'er-do-well. This course will focus on the whole Morte (yes, in the original!), including the agony and ecstasy thereof, after a look at some earlier medieval treatments in Chrétien and the anonymous tradition. Malory redivivus (="the reception of Malory") will be the theme of the final weeks, which will consider Tennyson and Twain.

The Literature of Chivalry, Advanced Undergrads & Graduate Students, Bonnie Wheeler, Southern Methodist University
"Courage! Honor! Intensity! Valor! Amor! Lances! Romance! Youth! = CHIVALRY. In these lectures, we study the development of chivalric mentality in literature and thought from the Middle Ages to modern times. This course starts with the flowering of chivalry in the twelfth-century West. Stories of King Arthur form the central thread around which we weave studies of chivalric education and variation, of chivalric rejection and renewal."

Syllabi for Courses in Post-Medieval Arthurian Legends


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Paper Topics


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Lecture Notes & Classroom Exercises

From Scythia to Camelot: Lecture Notes for a Slide Show, by Linda A. Malcor

Handout on "The Reception of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae", by John T. Sebastian, Loyola University of New Orleans

A Millennial Quest for Arthur

In January 2000 two undergraduate students left for a month-long research trip, sponsored by Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. After traveling over 3000 miles across the Island of Britain, we created this site for people who wish to learn more about those places associated with King Arthur and the legends attached to them." Created by students Joseph W.C. Boyles and W. Jacob Livingston, III, this site is beautifully organized and has lots of photographs. Suitable for all levels. {This link is to an archived version of the site that has all the text, but the links to the photos are broken. Some of the pictures, however, are still available at Vortigern Studies.)


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Examination Study Guides


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Last revised: August 4, 2014
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