Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hrs


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2 essays (2,500 words each).  One essay of 2500 words  60%
Semester Exam 30 minute summative group oral presentation  Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.  40%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate an informed awareness of the scope of Arthurian myth, and of the varying adaptations of the stories during the medieval period;

2. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of particular Arthurian texts, and of their relation to appropriate genres, such as romance and chronicle history;

3. articulate this knowledge and awareness in the form of a reasoned critical analysis of particular texts and in an oral presentation;

4. explain and engage with recent critical debates about the texts studied.

Brief description

The module examines a series of Medieval and Renaissance texts in order to explore the various ways that the stories of King Arthur and his court were translated and adapted, from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Thomas Malory. The module will not deal with the historical or archaeological evidence for the factuality of Arthur, but with the use of myth, modes of interpretation and ways of reading material which is both historical and literary.


This module examines a series of medieval and renaissance texts in order to explore the various ways that Arthurian stories were translated and adapted, from chronicle accounts of Geoffrey of Monmouth through the fictional entertainments of prose and verse romance literature and the politicised re-writings of Thomas Malory and Caxton his early printer. We will examine a selection of the different versions of the legends from the 12th to the 15th centuries. We will not be concerned with the question of the historical authenticity of Arthur and his court but rather with the ways in which a conglomeration of particularly British myths was adapted and used by writers (and readers) living in different cultural contexts. The module also examines a wide variety of material and types of writing: poetry, chronicles, painting, film &c, so that questions about genre as well as historical period and cultural context are incorporated into our interpretations and analysis of the core texts.

Seminar schedule

Seminar 1 Introductory
Extracts from 'rxcalibur? (Boorman 1981)
The History of Arthur 1 (Extracts-Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace and Layamon)

Seminar 2: History of Arthur 2
Analytical methods for understanding Geoffrey of Monmouth Wace and Layamon

Seminar 3: Romance 1- Chretien de Troyes
'rancelot? or 'rerceval?

Seminars 4 and 5 Holy Grail
4) The Quest of the Holy Grail (French Vulgate)
5) Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Seminar 6: Skills for Oral Presentation

Seminars 7 and 8: Romance 2 - Gawain stories
7) Carle of Carlisle (including National Library Manuscript in Digital Facsimile)
8) Marriage of Gawain (TEAMS texts online)

Seminar 9 and 10 The Death of King Arthur
9) Compare and Contrast Stanzaic 'rorte? and French Vulgate 'reath? (extracts provided)
10) Sir Thomas Malory Morte Darthur

Reading List

General Text
(1991.) The New Arthurian encyclopedia /edited by Norris J. Lacy ; associate editors, Geoffrey Ashe ... [et al.]. St. James Press Primo search
Essential Reading
Chr etien (1991.) Arthurian romances /Chr etien de Troyes; translated with an introduction and notes by William W. Kibbler (Erec and Enide translated by Carleton W. Carroll.) Penguin Primo search Geoffrey of Monmouth (1969) The History of the Kings of Britain Folio Press Primo search Malory, Thomas (1998.) Le morte Darthur :the Winchester manuscript /Sir Thomas Malory ; edited and abridged with an introduction and notes by Helen Cooper. Oxford University Press Primo search Matarasso, P. M. (March 1970) The Quest of the Holy Grail Penguin Classics [Imprint] Primo search
Recommended Text
Pearsall, Derek Albert. (2003.) Arthurian romance :a short introduction /Derek Pearsall. Blackwell Publishers Primo search Morte Arthur On line resource: TEAMS text for Gawain, and Stanzaic Morte Arthur Primo search
Recommended Consultation
(1959.) Arthurian literature in the Middle Ages :a collaborative history /edited by Roger Sherman Loomis. Clarendon Press Primo search (1992.) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight :sources and analogues /compiled by Elisabeth Brewer. 2nd edition. D.S. Brewer Primo search (2001.) The Arthur of the English :the Arthurian legend in medieval English life and literature /edited by W.R.J. Barron. Rev. ed (with additional postscript). University of Wales Press Primo search (1998.) The Arthurian bibliography :1978-1992 /compiled by Carloine Palmer. D.S. Brewer Primo search Brewer, Derek S. (Jan. 1997) A Companion to the Gawain-Poet D. S. Brewer [Imprint] Primo search Edwards, Elizabeth (2000) The Genesis of Narrative in Malory's Morte Darthur Boydell & Brewer, Limited Primo search Field, P. J. C. (1998) Malory:Texts and Sources Boydell & Brewer, Limited Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6