Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

King Arthur: Medieval to Modern

ENGL 518.640
R 5:30-8:10 pm

From the Middle Ages to the present, stories about King Arthur, the brave deeds of the knights of the Round Table, and Merlin’s mysterious prophecies have mesmerized readers and audiences. In this course, we will study nearly 1,000 years of literature about King Author, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth-century History of the Kings of Britain and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and ending with Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the fantasy fiction classic, The Once and Future King. We will also be reading authors who repurposed Arthurian literature in order to explore gender relations (for example, Elizabeth Phelps’ critique of bourgeois domesticity); slavery (Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court); colonialism and nationalism (Wales and India), and comparative religious cultures (for example, the medieval Hebrew version of King Author). Throughout the course, we will think about what Arthurian legends mean to the way we write history and the ways in which we view our collective pasts (and futures). Assignments will include response papers, an oral presentation, and a final research project.

fulfills requirements