Whether treated with reverence in medieval chronicle histories or mocked in a modern-day Broadway musical, stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table never cease to fascinate generations of readers. In this class students will analyze certain features behind this massive popularity of Arthurian legends, with a particular attention to the concept of adaptation. Some of the themes that we will contemplate include the changing ideas of chivalry, forbidden love, constructions of gender and gender relations, imperial ambitions and failures, and literary relationship to the past. Assignments include short response papers, in-class presentations, and a critical introduction (with a research component) to a modern Arthurian text.
Books: Chrètien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances; Béroul, The Romance of Tristan; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (The Winchester Manuscript).
Movies: The Princess Bride (1987), Mists of Avalon (2001), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).