men say, that King Arthur is not dead...and that he will come again."
Arthur with his knights
and ladies, Lancelot and Guenevere and the Lady of Shallot, Yvain and
Gawain, Erec and Enide, Perceval, and their many companions, continue
to return, always under new guise, in succeeding ages and ideologies.
Arthur, the Briton warrior of the fifth century, became the glorious king with a dazzling retinue in the high Middle Ages in England and on the Continent, then in the English Renaissance under the Tudors, in the 17th century with Dryden and Purcell, then very notably in the 19th century (Pre-Raphaelites, Tennyson, Wagner), and again in our era where the legend continues from Steinbeck to Disney to Camelot 3000.
From the rich heritage of Arthurian material, I have chosen a selection of interesting pieces to read and discuss. Students will also have ample opportunity to sample other Arthurian literature and media presentations on their own, drawing on the suggested readings and bibliography provided in the course.
Tracing the fascinating and complex development of that myth in outstanding literature, this course will introduce the medieval history, tradition, prose and poetry of the Arthurian legend, as it appears in historical chronicle, narrative romance, erotic and religious versions.
In noting the attraction that the Arthurian tradition has held for succeeding generations, we will examine the nature of its popularity, and the elements that have remained, been modified, or been discarded over the ages. We will discuss the moral ambiguities of courtly love and the gender roles played out in it.
Although the course will concentrate on the medieval versions of the Arthurian tales, we will make some comparisons with 19th and 20th century revivals and developments of the Arthurian myth in literature, art, and film.
Besides the weekly short paper, students enrolled for five units will analyze a later manifestation of Arthurian legend in literature or in another medium, such as film or painting.