Faculty of Arts


ENGLISH 340

Arthurian Literature


Description

Arthurian tales of chivalry and love have entertained readers for centuries. But, beyond diversion, the literary figures of the king, queen and the knight have provided focal points for cultures to work through their ambivalent feeling towards their society's power structures, institutions that on the one hand civilise, relieving individuals of constant fear of bodily harm, but on the other hand repress individual desire, in favour of society. In our examination of various literary manifestations of Arthur, Guenevere the knights of the Round Table, and the quest for the Holy Grail we will consider how medieval society developed some of the givens of Arthurian legend to invent, as Frederic Jameson writes, “imaginary or formal ‘solutions’ to irresolvable social contradictions” created by competing claims of individual and social needs. The course is taught in two halves, according to the language of the text—French or English—and the society from which it comes, but, throughout the semester, connections between texts—and sets of texts—are constantly acknowledged and explored. 

The objectives of this course are threefold:
· to introduce students to Arthurian legend and the cultures that produced it. 
· to enhance students’ understanding of literary analysis. 
· to help students practise and further develop writing skills.

Assessment: 

Course work only

Availability 2021

Not taught in 2021

Lecturer(s)

Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Tracy Adams

Reading/Texts

Most texts are taught in modern English versions, or in parallel-text editions. Links to the works will be provided. 

French texts include major romances from Chrétien de Troyes. 

English texts include selections from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur.

 

Prescribed Viewing:

In addition to the readings, we will be watching some Arthuriana films. Information will be provided in class.

Recommended Reading

King Arthur and His Knights: Selected Tales by Sir Thomas Malory, edited by Eugene Vinaver Oxford University Press).

Points

ENGLISH 340: 15.0 points

Prerequisites

30 points at Stage II in English or FRENCH 200

Restrictions

ENGLISH 738, 746


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