Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

King Arthur: Medieval to Modern

ENGL 102.001
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum

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 Arthur, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth-century History of the Kings of Britain and the anonymous 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 writers 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 Arthur). Throughout the course, we will think about how Arthurian legends influence the ways in which we view our collective pasts (and futures).