Module Identifier EN31120  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Claire E Jowitt  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours 10 x 2 hrs  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 2 essays (2,500 words each).100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should typically be able to:
- demonstrate an informed awareness of the scope of Arthurian myth, and of its historical development during the medieval period

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

- articulate this knowledge and awareness in the form of a reasoned critical analysis of particular texts

- explain and engage with recent critical debates about the texts studied

Brief description

Examines a series of Medieval and Renaissance texts which chart the development of the Arthurian cycle, from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Thomas Malory. The course 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.


We are all acquainted with the Arthurian legends but perhaps do not realise their complexity and the variety of uses to which they were put. This module will examine the development of the legends from the 12th to the 15 centuries. We shall be less concerned with the question of the historical authenticity of Arthur and his court than with the ways in which a cycle of particularly British myths developed and were used. We shall also look at a wide variety of material and types of writing: poetry, chronicles, painting, film, romance, etc. so that the question of genre as well as historical period has to be considered when interpretation of each work is attempted.

The module will be taught in 10 seminars of 2 hours. Supplementary bibliographies will be issued in due course.

Course schedule

1 Film: Lancelot du Lac (1975)
2 Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain (Penguin) and copies of materials of chronicles dealing with historical question of Arthur (Nennius, Gildas, etc.)
3-4 Chretien De Troyes, Arthurian Romances (Everyman)
5 Layamon and Wace, The Life of King Arthur (Everyman)
6 The Quest for the Holy Grail from the French Vulgate Cycle (Penguin)
7 The Death of King Arthur from the French Vulgate Cycle (Penguin)
8-9 Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur (Penguin)
10 Two Arthurian films: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, dir. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones (1975); Excalibur, dir. John Boorman (1981)

Reading Lists

** Consult For Futher Information
Alison Adams et al, eds (1986) The Changing Face of Arthurian Romance
Richard Barber, ed (1981) Arthurian Literature
Anne Berthelot (1997) King Arthur
Keith Busby and Eric Cooper, eds (1990) Courtly Literature: Culture and Context
P B Grout et al, eds (1983) The Legend of Arthur in Medieval Literature
N J HIgham (2002) King Arthur: Myth-making and history
T D Kendrick (1950) British Antiquity
E D Kennedy (2002) King Arthur: A Casebook
Norris J Lacey, ed (1991) The Arthurian Encyclopedia
R S Loomis, ed (1959) Arthuran Literature in the Middle Ages: A collaborative history
James Douglas Merriman (1973) The Flower of Kings: A Study of the Arthurian Legen in England between 1485 and 1835
Rosemary Morris (1982) The Character of Arthur in Medieval Literature
D D R Oven (1970) Arthurian Romance: Seven Essays
W Rothwell et al, eds (1973) Studies in Medieval Literature and Languages in Memory of Frederick Whitehead
N B Smith and J T Snow, eds (1980) The Expansion and Transformation of Courtly Literature
Kenneth Varty, ed (1981) An Arthurian Tapestry: Essays in Memory of Lewis Thorpe

Keith Busby (1988) "Medieval French Literature: Recent Progress and Trends" in the Vitality of the Arthurian Legend: A Symposium


This module is at CQFW Level 6