ENGL 1172: The Story of King Arthur

3 CreditsLiterature

Of all the stories familiar to the western world, few have exerted a greater influence on literary, pictorial, and musical productions than the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table. Although thousands of years have passed since the earliest versions of the story appeared, creative artists and their audiences continue to be fascinated by stories about Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Gawain, and Tristan. In this course, we will study adaptations of the legend in order to understand how literary writers and their readers remade the story to fit specific, historical circumstances. The course will pay particular attention to two related aspects of the legend. The first is the way that stories about Arthur emphasize the importance of personal integrity as a shaping force of history. The second is the relationship between personal responsibility and communal or civic order. We will see how these ideas are reshaped by writers in various times and places (ranging from early medieval Wales and England to twenty-first-century America). We will think comparatively about these times and places by paying close attention to the literary traditions and forms that are employed by writers who remake the story of Arthur.

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