Module Identifier EN31120  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Elisabeth E Salter  
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. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.100%

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;

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

Brief description

Examines a series of Medieval and Renaissance texts in order to explore the various ways that the Arthurian cycle was translated and adapted, 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 various different versions of the legends from the 12th to the 15th 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 was adapted and used by writers (and readers) living in different cutltural contexts. 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 and cultural context 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

Seminar 1

Seminar 2

Seminars 3 & 4

Seminar 5

Seminar 6

Seminar 7

Seminars 8, 9 & 10

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Chretien De Troyes Arthurian Romances Penguin Classics
Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain Penguin
James Cable (trans.) The Death of King Arthur Penguin Classics
Pauline Maud Matarasso (trans.) The Quest of The Holy Grail Penguin
** Recommended Text
Malory, Sir Thomas Le Morte d'Arthur Penguin, ed Vinaver
** Recommended Consultation
Pearsall, D (2003) Arthurian Romances Blackwell
** Consult For Futher Information
Alison Adams et al, eds (1986) The Changing Face of Arthurian Romance
Anne Berthelot (1997) King Arthur
D D R Oven (1970) Arthurian Romance: Seven Essays
E D Kennedy (2002) King Arthur: A Casebook
James Douglas Merriman (1973) The Flower of Kings: A Study of the Arthurian Legen in England between 1485 and 1835
Keith Busby and Eric Cooper, eds (1990) Courtly Literature: Culture and Context
Kenneth Varty, ed (1981) An Arthurian Tapestry: Essays in Memory of Lewis Thorpe
N B Smith and J T Snow, eds (1980) The Expansion and Transformation of Courtly Literature
N J HIgham (2002) King Arthur: Myth-making and history
Norris J Lacey, ed (1991) The Arthurian Encyclopedia
P B Grout et al, eds (1983) The Legend of Arthur in Medieval Literature
R S Loomis, ed (1959) Arthuran Literature in the Middle Ages: A collaborative history
Richard Barber (ed.) (1981) Arthurian Literature
Rosemary Morris (1982) The Character of Arthur in Medieval Literature
T D Kendrick (1950) British Antiquity
W Rothwell et al, eds (1973) Studies in Medieval Literature and Languages in Memory of Frederick Whitehead

Keith Busby (1988)


This module is at CQFW Level 6